Out to IN

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carl-jung-dreams

Disclaimer: If you consider yourself a religious person and you would prefer to hang on to that you may want to UN-follow this blog and not read the post below. I want to respect your right to not know some things and it is not my intention to provoke you to anger or be argumentative. I simply want to share my journey with anyone that needs to know they are not alone. Conversely, if I provoke your curiosity about what I am saying I encourage you to search these things out for yourself. I am no one’s guru, teacher, rabbi or pastor. Nor do I ever want to be. You have One within.  Find that. 

 

This is my first blog post in a while. When I first started this blog it was going to be mainly about health because religion and the system of religion had worn me out and I was honestly tired of talking about it. Particularly since a lot of the structure I had built my philosophies on had now, through study, research and obvious facts, been proven to have been built on sinking sand. And sink it did. More about this later. I thought I could just keep the conversation focused on physical health and that would work but have since come to the conclusion that spiritual health, directly impacting mental health, is really more important and the first place to start when working to regain good health. The mind is central to healing and the root of most all that ails us and all belief is generated in the mind so spirituality can not be ignored in that pursuit.

A little background…. As a child I always believed in a Creator. I still do. There is too much evidence that there is some form of intelligence behind all creation. To me this is just common sense. It might not be obvious to Richard Dawkins but it is to me. As a child I had no particular religion. I just had a “knowing” so to speak and an internal jarring of my conscience when I had crossed the line regarding what was ethical. No one taught me this. It was just there. If anything, in time, I was taught not to trust “it”. In time a few traumatic life events challenged my security in this knowledge and I began to look to religion for more answers regarding my suffering.  I thought that I had found those answers in Christian Fundamentalism. To be fair I did find some. I am grateful for many things I learned from that experience. So, from the age of 23 years until about 3 years ago (I am 47 at the time I am writing this) I had been heavily entrenched in fundamentalism of some form or another. In the past my blogs were mostly of a religious nature, Christian then eventually more of a Messianic Jewish/Hebrew Roots bent.

If you know anything about fundamentalism you know that it is focused on bringing about the conformity of ones behavior to a particular line of thought stemming from the teachings of a particular holy book (The Christian Bible in my case) or teacher.  In Christian fundamentalism the teacher’s interpretation of said book is more important than the actual detail of the book and in the Messianic or Hebrew Roots movement the book is more important than the teacher. However, the teacher still elevated to prominence and given a certain amount of adoration. Regardless they go hand in hand and work together to form doctrine that people then attempt to practice and encourage and sometimes coerce (no, not too strong) others to practice as well. The practice of fundamentalism is generally less focused on inward spirituality and more focused on the outward behavior modification of oneself. However, more often than not, maybe more so in some cases, it’s focus shifts to the modification of the behavior of others. I guess that is where hypocrisy really plays out and things can potentially get ugly. It’s difficult to control oneself and others at the same time. Without a secure and working internal guidance system (the one we are all born with) and depending solely on a book and man at the pulpit this is impossible. No one can do it and what ultimately happens is some varying degree of violence and in the form of verbal, emotional and less often physical abuse (although that does happen, getting there) for non-compliance or any independent thought or reasoning that doesn’t follow the status quo of a particular set doctrine. Religious people, I have found and experienced, are by and large are very frustrated and fearful. The operating line of thought in fundamentalism is “if you don’t believe like we do you are unacceptable in the eyes of (insert name of god).” What happens when you become unacceptable varies in severity. That might simply mean you burn in hell in their judgement. Or maybe you are just lost therefore redeemable and they might try to restore you by reasoning with you at best. At it’s most extreme you might be simply unworthy of breathing which we see in fundamentalist Islam and saw in the not too distant history of Christianity. We see that play out in our world today on almost a daily bases in the middle east and now many European countries and from time to time here in the US as well. Largely it is all about control.

So in Messianic-dom it is encouraged to study to be approved. Be like the Berean you are told. For the Messianic this means looking closely at historical facts, various translations and original texts in their original languages and seeking out teachers that can further refine this for you. In time, if this commitment is followed dogmatically,  it becomes increasingly clear that there are many, many contradictions, translation errors as well as multiple authors (many, many who are unknown) of the Torah, writings, prophets and New Testament. There are also many books that were not included upon canonization and upon further examination one discovers various political and sectarian strategies that were indicative of many of these decisions in forming what we now know as The Bible as a part of historical record.  As a result The Bible as we know it, as a whole, logically, can not be labeled fully inspired or inerrant. Calling it the Word of God is something it never calls itself. Not to say there is no inspiration, I truly believe much of it is inspired by our Creator, just not in it’s entirety. I hope I am clear in saying that. In coming to that conclusion I also came to the belief that The Bible is to be understand as allegory or metaphor, as most ancient writings are, to be able to obtain the most from it in a spiritual sense. I do not believe it is meant to be followed literally. I believe some art to be inspired as well but it is doubtful that Mona from The Mona Lisa resembled exactly the painting which tried to capture her essence. To follow any holy book or really any book filtered through the mind of man in a literal way has produced nothing but violence and destruction in our world and that is unarguably and historically a fact.

So where does one go from there? If you realize this or begin to question the status quo you will find yourself minus a social circle if your social circle was largely religious. Not an easy thing. I have the t-shirt. None the less if you are dedicated to the truth you will do what is right even if it means standing alone or with very few.

Well “out” was the wrong direction so how about “in”? In other words behavior modification based on books and the teaching of teachers didn’t hold water so what about looking inside? Yes, inside YOU. Jesus (or Yeshua) as well as many, many other prophets from different religions have encouraged an inward journey to find answers and guidance. This seems to be a common and consistent theme throughout all world religions. Some have said that it is the only way. I agree with that. That has been my experience. That is where I went and continue to go to and the answers I was looking for are increasingly and surprisingly found there.

So as you read my blog be aware that:

I believe the journey towards true oneness with the Creator to be an inward one.

I believe that the journey towards true oneness with one another is also an inward one. This is the only way we will obtain peace in this world. The other way has been very unsuccessful, to say the least.

I believe in staying in my own lane and in my own business and that being an example in my own behaviors to be the only way to positively influence others. I see proselytizing as manipulative.

I believe that God, the Divine, the Source, the Creator is present in every living thing.

I believe that the Creator and all Creation is energy in it’s essence and that all the energy of this realm is one unified field.

I believe that energy is never created nor destroyed.

I believe that all religions have some elements of truth and that all religions have elements of untruth.

I believe language and words to be the most base of all communication.

I believe in compassion for all living things.

I don’t believe in a literal hell somewhere under the earth. I believe we can create a living hell here and now if we choose and many people live there every day and will often attempt to create that for others.

I believe in healthy boundaries.

I don’t believe in labels or denominations of any kind.

I believe in respect.

So, for now that is what I believe and know to be true in my own life.

If you follow this blog I am going to be exploring some “far out” things that might be controversial. You have been warned.

Love and Light to you!

April

 

 

 

 

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The Examined Mind Vs. The Victim Mentality

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self-awareness

Fundamentalism is a religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views. A fundamentalist mindset insists things are one way or another and to suggest otherwise can very often incite varying degrees of violence, be it verbal, emotional or physical. It can tend to be coercive. I will be discussing that particular kind of intolerance in this blog. I know eyes roll when that word, intolerance, is used, because it is over used at times improperly used to silence people that think differently, but this is not how I intend to explore it, so please hear me out.

There are many different types of intolerance- religious, political, racial, gender, national and ethnic and that list goes on and on. My basic understanding is that in the mind of a individual like this everyone should do things their way or there will be some degree of consequence as defined by them, their leaders or their writings. Regarding those consequences, the intolerant individual will often be very happy to lay them out for you and quite explosively if they deem it necessary. At best this only manifests in secret judgements. At worst….well, we have seen that lately, haven’t we? This kind of intolerance’s need to control and manipulate others into accepting and embracing their perceptions is more often than not rooted in fear. Truth doesn’t need defending, it defends itself. There is no fear in it thus no reason to react aggressively when it’s not accepted. Truth is secure and solid. Within this paradigm is the desire to replicate oneself and ones views in another using emotional coercion as a catalyst. The possibility that the fundamentalist might be in error or even a bit short sighted is rarely considered. This person is convinced he or she is 100% accurate, and you, well, you are just lost and need to find your way or worse….. you have lost your very significance as a human being in their eyes. Respect for another human being and their free will to make their own choice is not offered, nor appreciated, in fundamentalism. There is no humility or humanity in this approach of winning people to your point of view.

Before feathers get too ruffled please allow me to unpack this a bit. Besides the obvious political insanity that has just unfolded, on both ends of the isle, there are many other examples of this in our society. Recently I had a “spiritual” conviction in my own life in that I felt I needed to stop eating meat and dairy. It’s personal to me and I made this change for many reasons I won’t go into in this blog. I feel no need to defend my choice or explain it to anyone unless they are just extremely curious for some reason. Anyway, as I searched out recipes and guidelines on the web I unfortunately encountered many vegan fundamentalists. Yes, they are out there. These individuals are angry and intolerant of anyone that does not share their point of view and eat the way they do. They see meat eaters as immoral and they the ones responsible for defining that moral guideline, not just for themselves, but for everyone else in the world. Frankly this is highly repellent. I am not drawn to these groups because of their judgemental approach and method in getting their point across. Wrong or right, this degree of disrespect is obnoxious. I feel this same ‘vibe’ in the modern feminist movement, the religious right, the far right, with certain atheists, ISIS, certain scientists, the far left and I could go on. If I am wrong I prefer to be educated not verbally, emotionally or physically assaulted. You may somehow force me to comply, so I might stay alive or be left alone, but you do not posses my heart. You have not truly converted me when these are your tools. In this case you have coerced me and that is deeply wrong. I have the right to choose whether to be educated about a topic or not so long as I am not harming myself or another person. Feel free to educate me about how running a red light is harmful. I can hear that. I see where another person could be harmed by my actions in that event. But don’t attempt to force me to hate a certain group of individuals because they don’t embrace your story about what is right or wrong. If you respect me I should have the right to evaluate that for myself even if, in the end, I decide not to embrace your point of view. There is a way to qualify these things and it is not difficult.

This brings me to the title of this blog. When one sees themselves as a victim they do not see themselves as responsible for their own thoughts and emotions any longer. They have unwittingly given that power over to the individual or system that they believe, real or imagined, victimized them. They may very well see YOU as the reason for their misery and YOU as the reason for many or most of the world’s problems if you do not comply with their way of thinking or do what they want you to do.  Eventually these individuals may act on these emotions in very destructive ways and just so you know they do so quite unconsciously. They, themselves, are traumatized. This is the root of intolerance. The very people accusing others of intolerance are themselves extremely intolerant because they are traumatized individuals that have categorized themselves as victims and sadly cannot escape that mindset. They have been captured by their own thoughts. Now, to be clear, people are hurt and treated unjustly and I am not discounting or invalidating that experience. People should behave respectfully to others but what constitutes that definition of ethical behavior is a very small and simple list. It falls under the banner of common sense and decency. What I am discounting is ‘staying in that experience’, the experience of victim-hood. Truly, no one can make you feel or think anything unless you choose to. To remain in that experience, entrapped in a past painful event, is to imprison oneself. Frankly, with this mindset, that of a victim, this poor individual will ultimately fail, not only in their attempts to win others to their point of view but also to grow, progress and mature as a human being and find peace and fulfillment in their own life.  A mind not examined is madness and that is what we are seeing in the world today. If this is you, please hear me. A victim, that remains in that frame of mind, always becomes the “victimize-er”, without fail. What you hate you will become and then you will ultimately hate you, because like it or not, that is a an extreme moral incongruity to the mind. I don’t want to see anyone do that, because I did, and it was not a good experience.

What you will find, when you begin to examine your thoughts, and question whether those thoughts are absolutely true, is freedom, healing and peace….on the inside. You might be right about some things, but because you are human, like all of the rest of us, you will probably be wrong about some things as well. There is very little any of us know without a shadow of a doubt to be 100% true. Our perceptions are extremely limited. Only about 3% of our environment is perceivable by the average human being using our available senses. We all live in different areas of the world, grow up differently and experience life differently in good and bad ways and if we let those experiences fully define us we will be very limited in our thinking indeed. When we end the war in our minds, and the imagined one with others, we begin to end war in the world. If we take responsibility for our own thoughts and emotions and focus on fixing what is within, it is a win win for the entire world. People want to follow an example like that. To escape misery one must examine their own mind. It is truly the only thing within your control. Reality is always kinder than illusion.

The only way out, is in.

Be free and cheers!

April

 

Broken Pieces

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The last few years have been an inward journey for me.

Prior to that, spiritually speaking, and for a good part of my life, I thought truth was found outside of me, in religion, doctrine, history, philosophy, politics, books (one in particular) etc. And while there is definitely, without a doubt, some truth there, there is definitely, without a doubt, falsehood there as well. A lot, to say the least….

For a season it worked for me. My life was build around principles that helped me “modify behavior” as to find redemption, salvation and be a better person in general and all rooted in the best, sincere intentions and desire for deep intimacy with my Creator. It was also rooted in a community that supported and upheld those intentions.

The “slate” was wiped clean when it all fell apart just a few years back. Honestly, it needed to fall and fall it did.

When life is rather normal, or as normal as it can be for a western, privileged American, these behavior modification doctrines (religious training), consistently and faithfully applied, are fairly effective for living, mostly, a moral, decent and ethical life. There was a season in my life when this served me. I thought this approach would also be effective in the raising of my children as well. I wanted the best for them (still do) so I got them out the door for weekly indoctrination faithfully about twice a week on average at one point. I entertained the thinking that it was a kind of “vaccination” against bad decisions and painful consequences that could make their lives less than happy or even miserable as mine had been previously. I had come from the other side of the equation prior to my religious conversion and had lived the “wild, hedonistic life” and knew what kind of consequence that introduces. I had a deep understanding of what it means to “pay the piper” so to speak as a result of my destructive choices. So, wanting to prevent the outcome I had experienced, I did what I thought would work and I did it out of deep love and yes, unconscious fear masquerading as love, for my children. It is a mystery how emotions can betray us to relabel our intentions but I guess that is the function of the ever elusive ego.

So, as life does, it had many lessons for me. My journey left the narrative of what could be repaired by good solid doctrine and prayer and took on characteristics that were beyond the “scope of treatment”. The “good doctors” shrugged their shoulders and walked away. That was meant to be. I suppose if the boat had never rocked I’d still be on it. And while being “on the boat” is certainly easier and more comfortable, it wasn’t the right path for me. So, the “rocking” and eventual capsizing of that “boat” that took place, in hindsight, is accepted with deep gratitude. The suffering that produced has by far been the best teacher I ever had….until I found the process of seeking the genuine One. Suffering will be our teacher until we learn not to need him. Or maybe suffering is a her? I don’t know. But I digress…

To sum up my journey, thus far, I have learned that indeed the Kingdom is within and that is the only place it can be found. We are the temple, period. It certainly wasn’t anywhere else. That I believe without a shadow of a doubt. I actually tested the hell out of the other theory (an outward kingdom/temple) and found it to be severely lacking.

And thus began my inward journey….the only frontier not explored, at least very deeply. So hold your breath, we are going down…..

I began meditating. That wasn’t easy. The first realization I had was that I was not in charge of my thoughts. My thoughts were in charge of me! No wonder I was such a basket case. So up a long hill I trudged learning to quiet, calm and make peace with the “panicky, neurotic monkey” residing in my head. I finally developed a consistent meditation practice and that is when life finally stood still enough for me to catch my breath and experience real peace, probably for the first time since I was a small child. With my mind more ordered, my emotions much more tame and my perceptions widened about the world around me I feel like my compassion, forgiveness, understanding and love towards my fellow man is finally becoming genuine. I see more clearly. I understand that unhealthy attachment, to anything or anyone, is not love and love, for me, has a brand new, clean pure hue. I don’t know that I understood what love was before but I am learning what it is now. Without being overly dramatic, love, real love, is truly a beautiful and holy thing.

I have much to learn about this journey and I do feel like I can find good “slices” of information from sources that have been at it a lot longer than I. As I don’t accept a label, I feel no threat in seeking that information from those sources, but with no intention of commitment towards a particular religion, philosophy or doctrine. I am a pretty unlikely candidate for conversion to anything. Nothing is contagious unless I receive it and I have been there done that and have the t-shirt. My “indoctrinated fear” of what is under every rock has left me. I feel fairly confident that I can discern truth, as I have something inside me, that being my Conscience, that when carefully paid attention to, is pretty accurate in identifying the (pardon me) bullshit. Living the rigors of years religious abuse, disappointment and neglect educated me throughly in that regard. So I seek out unconventional sources, that while they might not embrace all that I believe, have had success in certain areas and that I can learn from. I feel like everyone has something to teach me. EVERYONE. And I feel like NO ONE has all the answers. We all just see in part. Scientifically, around 3% to be accurate. That isn’t much folks. So when you think, as we all do, that you have unearthed some great truth, ponder that for a moment. For me, it is pretty humbling.

Today I came back from a weekend trip to a monastery of the Catholic sort. I weekly attend a class on meditation of the Buddhist sort. I am not a Catholic, never have been, nor am I afraid of becoming one. Nor am I a Buddhist or concerned that might be contagious either. I just feel like there are things to be learned. There are things they both do right and things they both do wrong, in my opionion. At the monastery I didn’t participate in the group retreat with the Catholics. Instead I committed to a weekend of silence, meditation, reading and my artwork sequestered away by myself except for some interaction with my dear friend who is on a similar journey.  The Catholics had no problem with us although a few of them regarded us with a bit of suspicion which was quite humorous to us to be honest. None the less they were very respectful and content to let us be and did.

So I came home and thought I’d write about my stay and what that was about for me. The monks live a simple life free from vanity, property, mass electronics and noise. There is merit in such a life. I found them to be truly admirable. Without vanity there is more concern for your fellow man as you are much less obsessed with yourself. We live in a society that is self obsessed. There is one particular monk that acts as a physician for the men that live there. He sees them through trials, illness and ultimately death and feels it is an honor to do so. He is humble, doesn’t own a mercedes or belong to a country club. No pharmaceutical reps visit him. The men work the property, make their own food and food for the poor and down trodden. They rise at 3:45 in the morning and everything shuts down around 8:00 in the evening. They take just one day of rest. There is much to learn from their way of life. I won’t be becoming a nun but I can certainly implement some of those things into my own way of living. (definitely not the 3:45 thing, that won’t be happening, 😉 )There are things about the religion they practice that do not resonate with my spirit but plenty of things about their way of life that does.

In my silence there I became very cognizant of my judgement and resentment towards the institution of religion and of religious people. I was made aware of my unhealed pain in regard to the disappointment I have felt in them both. Then I was reminded of my own mistakes and short comings and how I have let people down as well. Truly anything filtered through the limited understanding and perception of the human mind has a likely possibility of being harmful and frequently is. In religion this happens in more of a macro fashion, than individually, as history and current events testify to. I think if the people that hurt me knew better they would have done better. But, they didn’t. It is time to let that go now. For me my stay at the monastery ended my battle with religion. It also ended my judgement of it. It washed clean the hurt and pain religion has caused me. In my silence I became very aware of my own brokenness and the brokenness of others. People function at the level of consciousness they posses and everyone’s journey is different. We all break in different places and in different ways. The Japanese have a tradition of repairing broken things with gold making them more valuable repaired then they were when they were in their original condition. I guess maybe I am finally being repaired and I see the capacity in every human being to be healed as well. I see goodness and worth in the broken pieces like I never have before. I have to say I went away loving those people, truly, and what I learned from them. I won’t be joining their religion but we all belong to a club known as humanity. Silence and quieting the mind has a wonderful way of putting things in perspective and revealing the big picture and the interconnectedness of it all and all of us.

When we were children there was no separateness until someone informed us of it. We were all family. We were all one. I think that is what we are supposed to be. Maybe that is what “be like a little child” means”? I know that there are people that don’t agree with me and that is OK. I respect that and I love you too. After my visit at the monastery I know a little more about that now. To my teachers, all of you, I bow in deep humility to you and what you have taught me.

Namaste.

Cheers!

April

Spill

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(Disclaimer: None of the opinions expressed represent anyone’s but my own. My close friends and family can speak for themselves.)

I told myself that I would never write about religion on this blog but the journey to healing is not merely a physical one but also a mental and spiritual one as well. Maybe more so…

So there has been much wild speculation about what has been going on with me, where I have gone and what I believe. Some of these rumors have gotten back to me. The hurtful part about that is that people are guessing rather than asking. No one has bothered to talk to me but some feel rather free to talk about me. It’s pretty quiet over here. I’d prefer a lively debate in the simulation of concern but I have not even had that much interest displayed. I must be rather scary. I don’t know. Anyway, after reading this perhaps people can stop guessing if they are so inclined. Case closed.

One thing I can always promise is that I will always be honest and maybe at the end of the day that is what scares people. I am honest and I ask questions, uncomfortable ones. No one likes to be uncomfortable but at some point in my life that was no longer an option for me and I found my discomfort to also usher in freedom, surprisingly. I wasn’t always like that but now honesty is probably the most important thing to me as I have come to the understanding that I only hurt myself by being anything but. Dishonesty serves no one. Especially self-dishonesty. It is an illusion that it protects one from critics and largely the biggest critic of all, ourselves. I have found that people will criticize anyway even with the most erroneous “Intel”. This I have found out painfully time and time again. People have been a great disappointment to me but I understand that now to be because I had a faulty perception of them and as a result developed unrealistic expectations that could not be satisfied. I think I have had a nasty habit of wanting to see better in people that are simply not able to be better, for whatever reason, at this time. “The glass is always half full mentality” can get a person in trouble and I have seen my fair share of trouble, as a result of such thinking. The pessimistic response is equally as destructive for other, similar reasons. I guess that is because they are both typically based on ego serving illusion. I have decided that dealing objectively in the realm of reality and logic is the best approach to understanding truth with what limited amount of perception I do have.

If you have known me beyond a decade you know that I was a very zealous fundamentalist for a very long time. I wrote about religion, philosophy and right wing politics mostly. They seem to go together. I also wrote about health as my profession was in alternative medicine. Since I was a child I have been on a quest to understand what makes me and others tick and the origins of our creation and our Creator. It has taken me to some interesting places to say the least. I moved from being Agnostic to a Fundamentalist Christian and then to Messianic Judaism. I sliced and diced my way through languages, history, science and ancient writings only to learn everything filtered through the human mind is tainted in some way or another and it is frequently contradicting and often used as a tool to control the masses politically. That is because we are complicated and conflicted to our very core to say the least. I think by now I can say I have explored it all or maybe most of it. It all seems to follow suit no matter what label is attached to it.

A shift has occurred in me that will be difficult to articulate but I will attempt to. By and large a person has to experience something to truly realize the lessons it provides.

As it stands I have left organized religion, all of it. I am in the process of transcending it entirely. I say transcending because anything that still hurts a person has not been fully transcended and I would be dishonest to say that I still do not have wounds that are healing from organized religion. In other words if it still hurts you, you are not free of it. I am still in that process to be transparent. So, I will not be anyone’s guru religiously speaking. The lack of transcendence disqualifies me and I honestly don’t believe people should lead people anyway. I will get to that later.

My paradigm a decade ago was largely constructed around a social system known as “church”. My entire life and social structure revolved around an agreement to believe in a book and a leader and what it and he taught. You can see how in time this would be a problem thoroughly and carefully examined. People being people I witnessed leader after leader fall from grace in some really despicable ways and I saw “religious” people unceasingly wound one another with no thought. Books being books and written by people I found more and more problems and error the more I dug and researched them. During this process I adopted two children into my family which was a “good Christian thing to do” to enlarge our family. The suffering that a family faces as the result of a broken child coming into that family can be tremendous. It is not the fairy tale, always, that we are led to believe. Suffering became my teacher. It was the best teacher I have ever had. Joyce Meyer couldn’t do it justice. Suffering, daily, became the norm for me. The helplessness of not being able to fix a broken spirit and being the “stand in” for the offender (birth mom), paying for her sins, day in, day out, took me to my limit. My social system and my paradigm had no answers and no understanding to offer. What it did offer was judgement, criticism, abandonment, exploitation, blame and gossip. It offered more pain on top of what I already faced.

Could you say that I left organized religion because I was hurt? Yes, I suppose a case could be made for that. But you could also say I educated myself out of it. That is also true. One is noble, one is human.

So where does one go from there? For a season I entertained leaving Spirituality behind entirely because of poor representation. A lot of people do. I completely understand. They get hurt and they get tired. It is tempting to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I almost did.

There are some key realizations I have come to which set me on a new path. This path does not have a label or a doctrine. This path only leads to a place within. This path is the only one that has shown me pure, unadulterated truth as I am ready for it one step at a time.  This path hurts, but it hurts gently.

During my struggle with overwhelming stress and depression I kept hearing about meditation and how it can chemically and physiologically alter brain function so as to improve one’s emotional and physical health. I found out about Christian meditation (I don’t “need” that label anymore) and started to learn how to practice it and all the research was 100% correct. The outcome has been that I struggle with far less anxiety and depression than I once did. I am calmer and my thinking less cluttered. I am not fully healed but it has helped me tremendously and I know that given what I faced daily, in my home, I wouldn’t have fared as well without it or maybe not at all. Meditation has done for me more than religion or religious people ever did. I feel more connected with my Creator than ever while part of organized religion and I feel as if I have more understanding of His nature and more peace than ever in my life.  I cannot adequately describe to you what that is like. And it grows a little every day. It is a practice and something I must show up for to reap the benefits and it takes time and patience. I am a realist and I understand healing doesn’t always happen overnight. As I let go I heal.

The answers we all seek are not outside of us. They are not found in books and certainly not in Teachers or others. You don’t need a guru. Everything you need is within. The Kingdom is there….

So am I a Christian? Am I Torah observant? Am I a Jew? Am I a JuBu? Am I a Buddhist? Am I a heretic?

The answer to those questions largely depends on your individual perception, definitions and indoctrination and you will make up your own mind and form your own judgements. I don’t have a label to adorn myself with and I don’t want one. None the less my definition of the Creator is far more broad and beautiful now than I ever thought it would be and He more loving and inclusive to my fellow man then I had ever imagined…..as am I. I am different. So, if that makes me a heretic in your eyes I won’t argue with you. Those things are mattering less and less to me as time goes on. It is my journey and you have one too I hope you pursue. If I contribute anything at all I hope I have pointed to the door at least.

I love you more than you know and more than I ever thought I could. If you need more in depth answers I am open to discussing it respectfully and with people that want a relationship with me. I don’t respond to being fodder for idle talk.  You know where to find me.

Cheers!

April

Letter from a Girl

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sleeping-baby

By AM Novoa

“Can’t we all just get along?” Rodney King asked in horror of all that had occurred that week. Despite everything, face bloodied and bruised, he was conscious of the ensuing insanity that had overtaken a city by storm and he called it out.

He called it.

Did anyone hear him?

I did.

Yes, I had that question too Mr. King.

I still have it.

You are now liberated from your body, as you were sadly unable to conquer your demons, but I remember that week very clearly and I shall never forget you.

I had just had our baby you see Mr. King and what should have been the beginning of a beautiful future for him and our little family increasingly appeared in my 22 year old mind to be teetering on disaster. It sure looked bad and I was afraid and confused Mr. King. I had a front row seat recovering from a c-section in my shabby little apartment. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be….

I didn’t have hate towards anyone.

I still don’t.

I couldn’t be angry at you or anyone. I was tired and sore from surgery and trying to figure out how to be a mom. That in itself was overwhelming to me. I wasn’t trying to oppress anyone. I didn’t have a political opinion or even a political party. Nothing but survival was on my mind.

I was just a girl with a baby and a husband trying to make ends meet in an unforgiving, unfeeling, hard, cold city we could barely afford to live in.

Most of us are just that.

We are just people trying to keep our heads above water in a society that moves along with its ebbs and flows never taking most of us into account. We try to set forth on a journey without being entirely clear about the destination, doing the best we know how. We don’t notice much. We don’t have that luxury. We are just trying to live and that takes all we have. That is all it was. That is all that it is for most of us. So I sat there alone in the dark, the TV flickering having watched Reginald Denney’s head being crushed on live TV, with my baby in my arms, looking down at him and I thought to myself…..

“What is wrong with us?” No, not “what is wrong with a political party, a race, a religion, a culture or a country”?! “Us, human beings, what is wrong with all of us?” I said out loud to myself and my sleeping son. Because you see, whether you like it or not, we are in this together and whether you like it or not, everyone is right and everyone is wrong to some degree. All of us just see in part. No one is really better than anyone else even though most entertain that grandiose illusion to some degree.

The question remains….do we really have to win at all costs? Have you considered the cost?

Martin Luther King said “we must learn to live as brothers or perish as fools. “

Another King called it.

Oh Father that they would be one as you and I are one…..Someone once pleaded!

“One” is what the best of us is. But we are far from that aren’t we Mr. King?

Can anyone listen, reason and try to understand one another? Or will it remain an unending game of back and forth insults, name calling, accusations, victims and “victimizers” and the like. Incensed when loosing and gloating when victorious and both equally unbecoming. It’s small. Violence, fear and despicable acts abound once again. This isn’t getting us anywhere Mr. King. I know you understand, now at least. Reaction, reacting and reacting again. Why do we do the same things continually expecting a different result?

Rodney, you asked such a good question. Probably the best I have ever heard.

Do you not see the destruction?

You saw it, didn’t you Rodney? And in the end you couldn’t live with it. It overtook you. I am sorry for that. All that you could have ever been never was.

Someone is winning and it isn’t any of us. Get that? The joke is on us….all of us.

We have been manipulated and toyed with for a “story”. The truth is boring you see. Figures, facts and numbers don’t thrill us. They count on our emotional reaction. They count on us craving it. In time we do. We simply can’t take our eyes off a good train wreck. It’s worse than any addiction and it marginalizes people and divides us. It sells papers and gets hits and that keeps “it” going. It is a sickness and we are all the carriers.

So here we are again. Captive to fear and it’s bringing out the worst in us. It is the worst of us. All of us.

Somewhere there is a girl with a baby and she is watching you. Only now, instead of the flickering TV displaying the horror in the night and rather than the grey matter of Reginold Denny’s brain spilled on the Los Angeles streets, she is seeing the contents of your heart spilled all over this monstrosity called social media. She is young, barely making ends meet and she just wants to live her life and try like hell to figure out how to be a mom. Or maybe she just wants to be able to pay the rent or afford enough groceries to feed herself this week. Can’t you be better for her? Can’t you be better for him? Can’t you be better for you?

We ARE so much better than this….together.

Thanks Rodney.

Sincerely,

A Girl

Have No Fear….

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“The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”  Franklin D. Roosevelt

The messages I received, from my programming or cultural conditioning, about the nature of love, was that fear or worry was one way that you demonstrate love for others. I understand that the intent behind fear is often a feeling of love for someone but fear in and of itself is a faulty program and is not connected to love. I have been learning how destructive that “kind of love” can be, both to me and those around me. While it is wise to avoid danger, it is not wise to fear it. Here is why….

Fear and control are intimately connected. When people feel the need to attempt to control others or a situation it is because they are experiencing fear to some varying degree. The illusion being, is that if we fear something, we somehow have control over the outcome. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This is faulty logic. Bad things may or may not happen and being fearful will not prevent that. Sometimes fear may actually cause that “bad thing” to happen. For example, let’s say that someone is nervous (another word for fearful). This nervousness will very likely lead to the person feeling distracted and can then result in an accident or a poor decision and very often does. Fear is a liar. Fear gives us the illusion of safety but serves no productive purpose. Ironically, when we “sow” fear we will “reap” a harvest of many, many new things to be afraid of. It’s a cruel seed to sow that most of us are not immediately cognizant of until it bears it’s rotten fruit.  Albeit effective for dictators, usually for a short season, fear is the most ineffective motivator known to man and sadly replicates itself through out generations in families causing great, great harm in it’s path.

Fear divides us. It opens the door to separation and closes the door to love and friendship. It is not a bridge. It is a wall. People have a tendency to fear that which they do not understand. What they fear, they judge (as opposed to objectively discern) and subsequently hate. Hate creates suffering. We see it every, single day in our world. It is like a cancer that spreads and multiplies. It is behind every evil act you see on the news or read about. We see it in our relationships. We see in our workplaces. We see it driving on the interstate.  We see it in many of our religions.

Fear is what limits us. It keeps us from accomplishing great things that we know that we were born to do! It kills dreams and aspirations and it creates regret. We are all born with a passion or passions. Fear eliminates them. Fear extinguishes the flames of hope and promise like a bucket of water poured over a campfire and closes the door to possibility.

If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, youre right. – Henry Ford

Fear creates chaos. No one can think coherently when they are experiencing it. It causes us to react rather than act when we should. It paralyses us. Trauma has the ability to shrink grey matter in the brain.(  http://news.yale.edu/2012/01/09/even-healthy-stress-causes-brain-shrink-yale-study-shows ) It prevents objectivity and the ability to see the big picture and make wise decisions. It makes our world seem small, dark and out of control.

Fear opens the door to disease, destruction and destroys minds. Fear causes untold suffering.  ( http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/anxiety_and_physical_illness ) It is a tragic and sad way to go through life.

Fear prevents growth. It labels you a victim. It labels others as victims. It limits and it keeps people captive and enslaved. It has defeated nations and peoples’ throughout history. It kills relationships of all kinds.

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. – Plato

Fear isn’t love! It is the antithesis of it.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18

Have no fear. It isn’t living. It’s quite the opposite.

Cheers!

April

 

 

Vibration and Wellbeing

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The Kingdom is within.

Vibration is defined as a periodic motion of the particles of an elastic body or medium in alternately opposite directions from the position of equilibrium when that equilibrium has been disturbed (as when a stretched cord produces musical tones or molecules in the air transmit sounds to the ear).

It is my belief that vibration is the central influence in the health and well-being of all living organisms. It is my opinion that our entire universe from the tiniest molecule to the largest planet is designed this way.  Obviously the spoken word vibrates at a particular frequency but I also believe that thoughts produce frequency as well. Working in alternative healthcare for years I witnessed how many people could do everything right, i.e. perfect their nutrition, cleanse their bodies, exercise and take oodles and oodles of supplements and herbs, yet show little to no progress in improving their health and well-being. The formula should have worked, but it didn’t, in certain individuals. A friend and colleague and I began to question this and we were shocked at what we learned. The one commonality we observed in poor outcome was negative thought patterns and deep seated emotional problems. We witnessed this in ourselves from time to time as well and we experimented with it. We found that working only on the external/physical environment produced little to no improvement, if the internal environment, i.e. the mind, was in a state of distress. The condition of the mind is central, root, if you will, in healing.

The Kingdom is within.

The world of science changed forever when Werner Heisenberg put forth the Uncertainty Principle.

Schrödinger further confirmed that particles don’t behave in a predictable way essentially putting some serious dents in the theory of determinism. Particles can and do change behavior.

It seems there is an intelligence that has a “personality” and can potentially change the behavior of particles dependent on the observation of those particles. To someone steeped in determinism this is unacceptable and frustrating. For me, this is exciting, and essentially confirms what I already believe about the nature of the universe!

The work of Dr. Masaru Emoto further demonstrates molecular changes in water take place largely depending on the frequency and intent behind that energy. Our thoughts and words have influence.

Considering that we are 60% water this study seems important. It is interesting that water can give life but can also produce death. It is simply a conduit for energy, as are we. Religion attempts to answer this and does so in a variety of ways. Regardless of the answer they put forth or come up with, one detail remains constant. Everything is energy. There is energy within all of us. An essence or spirit if you will. Whatever or Whomever created the universe has deposited “it” in each of us and that energy is powerful…..one way or another.

I personally believe in Whomever. The world was “spoken” into existence scripture explains. Vibration. From the beginning. Created in His image, if one ascribes to Judaeo-Christianity, would seem to indicate that we too, are creators, at least in the sense that we have control of what “vibration” we emit or allow to enter. Having free will, we have choice.

So what goes wrong?

Put simply, it’s our wiring, when we respond emotionally to stress and trauma in our lives. When we experience stress or trauma, and react to it emotionally, we become more and more subject to the unconscious leading of the ego or to put it in “Christianise”, the flesh. Anger, resentment and other strong emotions put us in a state of fight or flight, growing the amygdala (lower/reptile part of the brain), shrinking the prefrontal cortex (reasoning part of the brain). Unable to access fully the reasoning part of our brain we are then unable to access the “eye”.  Not your physical eyes (plural), but the one (singular) (Jesus) Yeshua speaks of in Matthew 6:22, Luke 11:34, Gospel of Thomas saying 24. This is describing consciousness or a lack thereof. It is my belief, and many share it, that this is at least partially referring to the pineal gland. Negative thought patterns and words are the result of the fight or flight responsive. They are the animal residing in our heads (amygdala) attempt at self preservation. This works well for animals but not for us. Unfortunately, in the human being, negative thought patterns and spoken words have a profoundly damaging impact on one’s well-being and the well-being of those one influences. Our words and even our thoughts are of the utmost importance. Addressing externals, or modifying behavior, is not effective long term. The internal environment needs to be cleansed and healed of the poison that damaged it in the first place. We need to become the watcher on our own walls, the walls of the Kingdom that is within!

There is a way.

Next time!

Cheers!

April

 

 

Letter to 20 year old me….

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47 today

Hello 47.

I am OK with that.

Better than OK!

 I am grateful for every day and I am grateful to be comfortable in my own skin. It is so strange that 30 years ago I wasn’t, yet not many would have known that. It was the journey I had to take and I am happy  and grateful to have found “now”.

I spent over two decades trying to be someone that I wasn’t and fit societies standards and expectations. My 40’s have been a time of getting to know the real me, heal and find the kingdom that is within. What a journey!

What would I tell the 20 year old me?

*Stop trying to get the approval of others and please everyone. Especially the ones that don’t see beauty in what you offer. Lovingly, move on from those folks.

*Love you and the skin you are in.You are magnificently made in the image of the Creator of the Universe!

*Understand that everything is temporary and don’t take things so seriously. Laugh as much as you can!

*Nothing is personal. People only behave at the level of consciousness they posses and by and large this world is a very unconscious place. Don’t take things personally.

*Let go, always. Attachment is not love.

*People will misjudge you. You will misjudge others. We are by and large egocentric creatures that typically see others as we see ourselves. Our perceptions are frequently flawed and inaccurate. Withhold judgement because you can’t and don’t fully understand others or what their journey is specifically about and don’t personalize it when they judge you as they simply do not know to do better. We all only see in part.

*Be present in every moment and don’t resist difficulties but work with them, dissect them and search out what understanding they bring.

*Slow down. You don’t need to react emotionally. Learn to be objective and seek Truth. If you seek it you will find it even if it is just a little at a time.

*Patience will save you a lot of grief. ❤️

Aging can be a wonderful thing when you accept it with the correct perspective. 🌸🌸🌸🌸 #birthdayhair #thekingdomiswithin #gratitude

Meat Bag and the Goad

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Weird title but it kind of gets your attention, does it not?

This is going to be short…..because it is simple, but it’s not. It is a paradox. It is an easy concept that confounds many of us. Like all great truths. I had coffee with a friend this week and during that conversation I finally understood a concept that I haven’t been able to receive fully until recently. I am writing to myself as much to anyone who can hear this. It is a hard truth to accept and I mentally wrestle with it. We all struggle with us. If you don’t I applaud you. You are a lot further down the road than I am. I think embracing this truth is truly the only way to be free of much of what trips us up in life and causes us to suffer. My ego is not a fan but here it goes:

Being a victim of your circumstances is a mindset, not a reality. Jesus asked what can they do to you? They can only kill your body. You are not your body. (paraphrased Luke 12:4) In other words, you are a spirit hanging out in a meat bag for a number of years and you are only a victim if you mentally accept that role or ‘story’. Victim-hood, while painful, is a mental fabrication according to Jesus/Yeshua. Ouch.

A victim accepts ‘the story’ that he has no choices and in turn feels powerless. The story is generated by the ego a.k.a the flesh. That powerlessness he feels fuels his anger and his anger brings destruction to him or those around him. The victim, in time, always becomes the victimizer. Most of the time he will victimize himself with self destructive behavior, because it is more socially acceptable, or he will lash out and victimize others. This is the story of mankind, from the beginning, and is an easily observed truth, throughout all of history, all cultures and all religions. The truth is we all have choices. Three, in fact. Two will free us. One will enslave us. The ego/flesh would tell us otherwise because it wants to rehash the story it tells us to support said victim mentality. If two of the following choices are made then the story is defeated. The story ends. It’s teller is silenced, or at least this time, it will try again. :/

3 choices:

Make a decision to change the situation. Take action. Create a boundary or leave the situation. Most of the time this is possible, but sometimes it is not. Act, if it is wise.

Acceptance. Let go of the attachment to an agenda and or expectations and stop resisting, mentally. Surrender to Reality and stop ‘kicking against the goad’. There are some situations where this is the only option and the only way to become free. Rest.

Suffer. Resist or react to your circumstances. .

Well, that was enough to chew on this week. I am choking on this one just a bit.

Cheers!