Inner Balance with Love at the Center

Time is speeding up. Have you been feeling it? Sensing it?

I feel like we are in a deep learning period where lessons are coming in at bullet speed.

It’s hard to describe in words what I am understanding. I see and feel through images what Spirit presents to me.

I can describe it this way:

When I write for EduSpirit I write from my heart drawing on intuition, the flow of consciousness. It is a different sort of writing, completely detached from linear progression and unencumbered by morphosyntactic structures or analytical examinations. It is akin to what I believe surfers must feel as their primal senses hone in on “the fetch” – the area over which the wind is blowing – to determine how fast they need to paddle toward an oncoming swell. It’s the inner knowing of balance, the way we catch ourselves from falling when we slip on black ice. Or the way Joan Miró knew when to add a bold red line to give the other objects in the painting significance and weight.

So back to my questions … have you been feeling it? Sensing it?

But, what is IT?

IT is amorphous, elusive. Like a mosaic, the closer you get to the picture the more fractured and nonsensical the image. Only by taking a step back and detaching ourselves from the expectation of what we believe the image is or should be, do we begin to derive clarity of how all the smaller pieces fit together into the larger whole. Then, and only then, can we perceive the visual narrative.

IT plays with time and space. How are we already in April 2018? I remember New Year’s Eve clearly. I was creating vision boards with my family. And yet, the events that have occurred both personally and collectively since January 1st have been profound, unprecedented, and life-changing.

The lessons during this time feel exponentially more intense and challenging. Maybe because they are coming in fast, furious, unrelenting and without pause. It feels that just as soon as I make a breakthrough by recognizing and understanding the gifts in one lesson, another is right around the corner. I’ve barely caught my breath and Spirit is handing me another challenge.

Yet, one of my spiritual teachers constantly reminds me to reconceptualize “lesson” and “challenge.” What if, instead, I understand the situation as Spirit inviting me (again and again) to view the person or circumstance with love? What if I am being invited to LOVE and be LOVE in every moment? And when I do not feel love and, instead, feel angry, challenged, upset, saddened, or even ecstatic, I can learn to recognize that these emotions – not originating in love – are indicators of a part of me that is asking to be healed.

The lessons are coming in hard and fast. Again, we are being invited to consciously recognize the parts of ourselves that are being triggered by others and that reflect back to us what is begging to be healed. When we understand that we are divinely created – we are love and love is perfection – we begin to focus on the beauty within ourselves and in each person. What we, in our third-dimensional mindset and physicality, perceive as flaws, suddenly become areas where deep lessons reside. We no longer view these ‘flaws’ as deficits, but rather, as doorways to the authentic Self. It’s “through the cracks that the light gets in,” and if we intentionally focus on our inner sacredness with a humanizing and compassionate orientation, then we begin to be less judgmental and much more forgiving. This forgiveness, however, must first originate from within. Though cliché, there is a deep truth in forgiving ourselves – including what we perceive as fractured parts or flaws – before we can deeply and authentically forgive others. We must first cut our own cords that keep us attached to self-hate and admonishment before we tackle the challenge of releasing and severing unfulfilling or unloving attachments to others.

During this weekend when many are celebrating Easter, I am taking time to pause. I am consciously taking time to light candles, focus on my breath, and slow each moment down – at least for a little while. It feels so important to me to recognize the sacredness within myself, the part of me that forgives easily, laughs heartily, and smiles without effort. I go about the week rushing around trying to cram the work of three people into one working day, and I forget my own power. I forget that I, just as all of you, are forces of love. Sometimes we need to be reminded that every choice we make – however small or seemingly insignificant – is an intentional act that has the potential to bring joy and love to others and to ourselves.

May each of you have blessed and sacred moments this weekend,

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Featured image is by Joan Miró, Triptych Bleu I, II, III (1961).

River

Lately, I have been very involved with my academic writing and it has been challenging for me to sit down and write for EduSpirit because, to be frank, my left-brain is pretty tapped. Writing poetry, however, is a completely different process. It is organic and free-flowing. It elicits the voice of my heart through images and scenes evoked through contemplation and reflection.

Tonight I wanted to capture the paradox of a river – stillness and movement occurring simultaneously. I was inspired by Steven D. Farmer’s “Earth Magic” cards which, I believe, were created to tap into our visceral, primal responses that reside within our right-brain.

As I have demonstrated through video blogs I have posted, I use cards to balance my left and right brain hemispheres. In my academic career I am engaged so heavily in analytical thinking that I sometimes feel that my creativity begins to atrophy. I need to find a way to bring my “selves” into harmonious balance and one way to accomplish this is by drawing, painting, and writing poetry.

I am at a point of my journey in which I fully realize and appreciate Maslow’s conceptualization of human self-actualization and the way in which we need to integrate and embrace mind, body, and spirit to live authentically and to be in greater harmony with our essence.

With much love as we enter into December,

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River

 

Your voice,

the force of a river – collides.

The speed, your movement  – you knocked the wind,

air leaves my body.

 

Your voice,

pierces thick fog.

I wince at the realization –

Have I been asleep this long?

 

Your voice,

makes my blood run fast,

like the Mississippi Delta – every capillary fills,

swollen and untamed.

Lungs expand,

BREATHE, Breathe, breathe.

I can’t catch my breath.

 

“I am here,” you say.

Eyes, ears, fingers … they search for you.

but the fog is heavy, the light dim.

Sleep threatens as night approaches,

Will I lose you again?

Fear engulfs me.

 

My love?

Are you still here?

 

I am alone.

Moonlight reflects in the flowing river.

It is as still as glass.

 

Then,

ripples lapping against the embankment,

the symphony of crickets behind the trees,

the smell of the earth supporting my body,

the flash of shooting stars,

the taste of sweet grass,

you speak to me.

My senses receive your stories.

 

I pass over into dreams,

the Earth, a sturdy cradle – rocking,  nudging.

She whispers, “Look.”

There you are.

A force of illuminated brilliance, meandering toward me.

 

You are the river,

free and unfettered.

I cannot contain you –

this thought – so frightening before,

now fills me with joy.

I take you in –

all of me, ALIVE.

 

You are the river.

The voice of my heart.

Understanding the Soul’s Messages

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The other day I was engaged in a guided meditation that involved going from one room in a house to another. Each room was filled with different colors, sensations, objects, and light. One room, in particular, felt very familiar. The woman’s voice guiding the meditation described the room as having a smoky aroma akin to wood burning in a warm fireplace. In my mind’s eye, I saw the red and orange glow of the fire and beautiful rich, oak walls and floors around me. I seemed to be in a large den full of shelves, old books, and brassy objects. There were many dark nooks and corners around the room, but they were not unpleasant. They felt mysterious and interesting, but I was unsure about walking toward them. Instead, I focused on the joy I felt. I sat down by the fire in the plush, soft leather couch draped with a beautiful crimson, knitted blanket. I was lulled into a profound state of serenity and wanted nothing more than to wrap the room around me like an enormous, fluffy robe.

In what felt like a long time later, I found myself still sitting in the chair by the fire. I seemed to have regained consciousness. Maybe I had fallen asleep. Deep, amber hues spilled in through the windows casting warm shadows against the walls. I breathed in and suddenly remembered one of the upstairs rooms in my grandparents’ house. The musty air was comforting, rather than suffocating. I sensed my grandparents’ presence. Though I could not see them, they felt to me as if they were just beyond my sight. All I needed to do was to call out to them and they would enter the room through the main door. This made me smile. Knowing they were nearby helped me to let go of any inhibitions I had about exploring this room.

I looked around the room. Resting had refreshed me and seemed to have sharpened my vision. The room was getting darker, but the fire still burned brightly. Shadows from the fire now flickered making the room dance in brilliant reds. My eyes wandered to each of the darker corners. Slightly illuminated, they began revealing their secrets. It was then that I saw it. In the far left corner of the room there was a large wooden chest. It looked like a pirate’s treasure box in which gold, silver, and other valuables would be stored. There was a beautiful hue of deep ochre emanating from it. I got out of the chair slowly and walked toward it.

Suddenly a man’s steady and gentle voice spoke to me. His voice seemed to radiate from the light around the chest. He said, “Open the box and choose one treasure. You may not know for what this object is at this time, but if you ask, its purpose will be revealed.”

Intrigued, I slowly opened the chest. The chest’s contents were obscured by the increasing brilliance of light now blinding my eyes. I reached in and pulled out an awkwardly large object. I didn’t know what it was at first. I had to turn it over in both of my hands repeatedly to make sense of it. It seemed to be an ear trumpet, though at the time I didn’t know it by name. I remembered seeing old, black-and-white photos of people in the nineteenth century who were hard-of-hearing using ear horns or trumpets to hear. The one I held was larger than the ones I had seen. Made of brass, it resembled a clarinet with a bell circumference similar to a mellophone or French horn. I placed the skinny end of the instrument into my left ear, then into my right. Nothing happened.

I closed the chest, held my ear trumpet loosely, and said “thank you.” I asked silently for its purpose to be made known to me and and slowly came back into waking consciousness.

I was now in my bedroom sitting up in my bed with my head against the wall. What was that all about?

***

I started to think about the meditation. I had been listening to a guided meditation by one of my favorite online teachers who works with the angelic realm.1 Unlike other spiritual teachers whose works I have studied or who I have “followed” online, this teacher was humble, grounded, down-to-earth, and not interested in making a quick buck.

***

Reflecting upon this experience, I realized I didn’t know what it meant. I started to analyze the treasure chest, the male’s voice, and the “gift” of the ear trumpet. I examined the information analytically, the way I scrutinize data results when reviewing academic manuscripts. I thought through the meditation, looked for evidence that aligned with what I thought the purpose of the ear trumpet was, and questioned apparent discrepancies. For example, did it matter that the den with a fireplace in which I originally found myself somehow converted, in my mind, to an upstairs room in my grandparents’ house?

I then approached the memory of the mediation from a reflective stance. Maybe the ear trumpet was a metaphor for being more open to the messages that others around me were trying to communicate. Maybe our internal “treasures” were not discernable until others pointed them out to us. Maybe the man’s voice was my ego feeding me what I wanted to hear:  the “gift” was the proverbial, “magic bullet” that would give me all the spiritual insight and knowledge I had always sought.

After these examinations, I felt dissatisfied and somewhat drained. What was the point of going into a peaceful state of meditation if I was going to examine the hell out of each detail? Goodness, how exhausting!

I spent the next few days not thinking about the ear trumpet gift or the meditation. I had many other distractions … preparing for fall semester courses, organizing a research study, helping the girls with their respective transitions to first and third grades, and watching Game of Thrones with my husband… (Yes, the latter distraction has been quite entertaining but time consuming).

Then last night, in-between wakefulness, I heard his voice again. In a tone, not unlike that of a parent who watches their child fall from running down the stairs after being told not to do so a hundred times, he said, “Use the earpiece in meditation to hear us.”

I woke up, startled. His voice had been very loud in my left ear. My left eardrum was vibrating.

I sat up and looked around the bedroom. Everything was still.

Then, the thought, “Of course!” The ear trumpet2 was not a metaphor. It was an actual tool to hear in the spirit realm! I had been given a tool to hear!

I had overthought, over-examined, over-reflected, and over-analyzed what was meant to be a simple, literal message. The ear trumpet was a response to my years of asking for a concrete, “real” tool that would help me discern, understand and interpret my soul’s messages.

I had forgotten how to trust my heart and soul’s inner wisdom. I had forgotten the language of the soul and the way in which it communicates directly through visual images, emotions, memories, smells, tastes, sounds, and touch. I had forgotten the beauty of the story within. It was not just “imagination” but a real space, a co-creation between my “physical” and higher Self.

***

Today, as I write this, I have a renewed sense of excitement as I approach meditation and prayer. Spirit has communicated to me through my soul’s language how to hear the messages of my heart.

***

I am happy to share this experience with you. I hope it provides you with restoration, remembering, and revitalization of the power you have within to explore your Soul’s language and landscape. Hold your dreams tightly and trust that you are receiving messages in every moment of sleep and peaceful relaxation.

Be open and embrace who you are!

Much love,

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Footnotes

1This qualifier is important for those reading this blog and who are skeptical about meditation, distrustful of spiritual teachers, or unsure of the experience I am sharing. I hope to assure you that, over the years of spiritually seeking, I am very cautious about who I trust to learn from on my spiritual path. I have not always been discerning and have been burned (not literally) many times. Though I have not spoken explicitly about this before, I have had experiences throughout my life that I cannot explain in a “logical” manner. I have had subtle and very visceral experiences with the angelic realm, but the most memorable have been from childhood. That said, I elicit guidance and protection on a daily basis from angelic guides and now I am sharing one of my experiences.

2In choosing the photograph used with the blog, “An Angel with Trumpet,” I was given the insight that the trumpet is the communication bridge between the heavenly and earthly realm. We only need to be open, listen, and heed the call.

 

Counting Blessings

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Lately I have had difficulty keeping track of time. The summer is passing by so quickly and each day is full of activities and things to accomplish. I have many self-imposed deadlines coming up and the prospect of getting everything done seems impossible. In the past, I would have felt anxiety and stress. I would be worrying about all the work ahead of me and feeling guilty about my upcoming vacation. I would be berating myself for taking on too much and not having enough time to enjoy my summer. A part of me would feel miserable and another part excited about the opportunity to get away from the daily burden of to dos hanging over my head.

Right now, though, I feel only calmness. It’s a detached state of mind where a part of me is observing all the activities I am involved in without feeling the rollercoaster of emotions I am used to experiencing. It is a strange sensation, especially because I realize I may not complete all the tasks I had hoped to accomplish by the end of summer.

Perhaps part of this sense of inner calmness comes from knowing that in twenty-four hours I will be on route to Spain to celebrate my fifth-year anniversary of being cancer-free. I am meeting up with my sister-in-law who is also a cancer thriver and who just completed radiation treatment. We are celebrating our precious lives and counting our many blessings.

As I have written about before, I experienced many dark nights of the soul going through my cancer journey. There was one night I will never forget. It was the night I spent in the darkness of my basement grieving the life I felt I was about to lose. That night I was gently, but firmly, shown two paths. One led to the end of my suffering where I would quickly slip away and out of my mortal coil to be one with the Light. I knew that if I chose this path I had little time to remain in the physical plane. Though I didn’t want to leave my husband, children, family, and friends, the exhaustion and pain I felt dealing with the cancer was almost unbearable. I was tempted to step onto this path and be released fully from the anxiety and fear that plagued me.

The other path, in some ways, was more difficult. It meant that I would have to choose life in a conscious and deliberate manner. Choosing life, for me, meant knowing I was fully responsible for all of my choices, actions, thoughts, words, and feelings. I felt the gravity of what choosing life would mean for me. It would mean no more bullshit. It would mean that I needed to step up to the plate, live in the present moment, and BE aligned with who I truly was. No more shrinking, backing down, or slinking into the periphery. By freely choosing LIFE I made the decision to no longer give away my power. I realized and acknowledged the incredible inner sovereignty within.

I remember thinking, “Oh shit. This is REAL.” I could feel the weight of my choice. God wasn’t playing.

By choosing LIFE I have chosen a more challenging path. The difficulties lie in making sure that what I say and do are aligned with the highest good. There’s a passage in the Bible (I just looked it up), Matthew 19:24, which reads, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” In my view, even with wealth aside, it feels impossible to enter the “kingdom of God” IF, like me, you believe that the kingdom is not so much a place, but rather frame of mind or level of consciousness. How can I walk through the “eye of the needle” if my consciousness is not pure, if my heart’s intentions are not aligned with the highest good? This question makes me check myself again and again. Do I honestly believe and feel that I am being true to myself – my higher Self – in my daily routines and interactions? In other words, am I truly walking the walk?

Though I believe, in my heart, that the kingdom of heaven is open to ALL of us, I also have an internal knowing that there are ways to open our hearts here on Earth that will make it easier for us to fully experience (and understand) the Light that is constantly being offered. Being aligned with our highest good – our greatest most divine Self – is a huge step toward receiving and integrating this light. I interpret this biblical passage to mean our ability to be our highest Self without judgment of others or self (our Earthly personality/ego). It is to BE who we came to be by stripping off the protective layers, carefully constructed or forcefully imposed, and to KNOW we are living our lives from LOVE, not fear.

As I prepare for my trip tomorrow, I feel genuinely happy that I am HERE on this physical plane and that I chose LIFE when I had the opportunity to do so. I am aware that every day is a new opportunity to align my thoughts and actions with my higher Self and to be able to ask if what I am experiencing holds the intention of the highest good. I am blessed to be able to have these internal reflections and am grateful to have a space where I can share my heart. I am counting my blessings and am conscious in this NOW moment of the gifts this LIFE has offered.

With much love,

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“The World is Full”

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For the last couple of weeks I have needed respite from putting myself “out there” in a public space. As the quotation by Rumi says, “the world is too full to talk about.”

The world is full. It is brimming over with energy and emotion. I hesitate to pick up my phone in the mornings, for I know I will check my emails, read the news, and go over my social media accounts. Each of these venues will reflect to me the world’s fullness. My hesitation comes from the tension of wanting to withdraw from what is occurring in the sociopolitical landscape while feeling pulled to connect with others, on a micro and global scale. The internal pull and push is exhausting, particularly when, each day, I come across a story or event where we, human beings, are treating one another with disdain, hatred, and injustice. The sheer force of unveiled contempt for life – human, animal, or nature – witnessed through first-hand observation or via media outlets has been staggering for me. As I have been writing in previous blogs, acts fueled by negativity are decentering and require that I take time to regain equilibrium.

Yet, even as events unfold that are unfathomable, I have noticed them disappearing from my mind’s eye like the end of a movie where a person on horseback merges in the distance with the horizon. I don’t feel like I am disassociating from the harsh realities we currently are experiencing, but rather that a part of me is pushing away the antagonism and pulling toward a greater awareness of the present moment.

The present moment of conscious breathing and exhaling focuses the lens through which I view this world. The sunlight becomes brighter and more intense. Each leaf and blade of grass is discernable. The soft breeze and gentle rain resonate deeply within me. Each sound its own symphony. With this clarity, I recognize my oneness with all that is within and around me. I forget the cars, the smartphones, the laptops, and the constant barrage of “to dos.” I am here. I am with YOU.

Rumi helps us to remember, “ideas, language, and even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense.” I close my eyes and stop the noise. We are in the soul’s “field.” We are equals. Our hearts are one. Our minds connected. This is what it means not to get caught up in the world. “To be in the world, but not of it.” You are not separate from me. I SEE you. I feel your joy, your sadness, and pain. We understand another and do not have to speak to know our needs, wants, and desires. We just ARE. And this realization is good. It makes us feel settled and safe.

When the world’s fullness feels like too much, I am grateful for retreat. I am thankful for the ability to unplug. I am privileged to do so. I live a life where fullness means having a busy schedule, several projects to tackle, and many meetings to attend. I do not worry about my city getting bombed or my children going hungry. These are real concerns that warrant humility and reflection as I navigate my first-world challenges. Not everyone can disconnect or escape violent and dispossessing realities we, as human beings, have created and continue to perpetuate.

I sit with these thoughts daily.

I appreciate YOU who is reading this. I thank you for sharing this space, right now, with me. I do not know how you are understanding the world around you in this moment, but I want you to know that I am HERE for you and with you as we take some time to figure out our next steps.

With much love,

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Using Healing Cards in a Grad/Undergraduate University Course

The last week has been emotionally brutal for me. You may imagine that by this statement something painful or terrible has occurred in my life, but this is not the case. Instead, the turmoil I’ve experienced is from tuning into the world more closely, reading many stories – in the news and in other various sources, and being critically aware of the inequities and violence I see around me. After the Manchester bombing and the violent stabbings that occurred in Portland, Oregon on the MAX transit system, I felt my soul sink deep into a small, dark space.

The darkness incubated as my joy withdrew. I felt numb and closed in. As a mom and wife I could not retreat physically. I had to remain present even though, inside, my heart was screaming. I had to manage getting up in the morning and being there, as best I could, for my family. Luckily, their love and acceptance of me remained steady as I struggled with different emotions ranging from disbelief to anger to sadness to an unwilling acceptance.

I spent a great amount of time reflecting on the stabbing and thinking about what I would do if confronted by a similar situation. Would I have had the courage to stand up against pure hatred? Would I have placed my body between the perpetrator and those who were being attacked?

What does it mean to confront or face violence? How do we prepare ourselves to act in its presence?


I believe we need to have greater imagination in the ways we not only resist and confront violence, but also in the ways we reconceptualize the reality we want to experience. If we detest the ways people have been marginalized, hurt, violated, and oppressed, then we must go out of our way to show MORE LOVE – consciously, powerfully, and forcefully. I am not saying that we should not feel anger toward those who inflict hateful, brutal acts on others, but we should not allow this anger to fill up our hearts. We should transmute (the conscious act of converting one energy form to another) anger to a higher, more constructive energy. We should not give into energies that fuel more chaos, violence, and hatred. When we ignite only anger, we feed systems that depend on our individualized and collective separation, isolation, and marginalization. If we are focused on hate, then we are also blind to the possibilities of transmutation, reconciliation, and healing for ourselves and one another.

In this vein, in a somewhat impromptu manner, I decided to introduce an activity centered on healing and bringing peace into the world to the undergraduate and graduate students taking a special education course on “Collaboration and Consultation.” I introduced  Healing cards that students used to reflect upon the past week’s violent events. Through these reflections, they consciously transmuted violence (on a spiritual level) into peaceful and loving intention.

The following video is an excerpt from class. In the video, an explanation of how the cards can be used is explained and demonstrated. The Healing cards link will provide you with information about the artist, Pat Berberich, who created the cards as well as students’ reflective writings on the cards they chose.

With love and healing,

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Here are some examples of Pat Berberich’s healing cards and students’ responses of peaceful loving intention to counteract violence and aggression. For more examples click on the “healing cards” link above which will lead you to other students’ reflective work.

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A tempest.
A storm.
Swirling, chasing
The winds tearing up the roots of trees like the words spilling from your mouth tear up the roots of my heart.
Of my peace.
Of my calm.

Do you even know?
Do the words you spew forth leave you just as bitter as they taste when I say them to myself again later?
Or to you are they just empty threats?
Empty phrases spilling over from your own uprooted heart.
Just a continuing storm-front you’re passing on so someone else feels your pain.
Your fear.
Your terror at being so small they don’t see you
So you make sure everyone else is even smaller.

Breathe.
Step into the eye of the storm.
Embrace the calm, if only for a moment.
We see you.
I see you.
Tearing everyone and everything apart just so no one else can break it isn’t saving you.
Now you don’t have it either.

Your pain is real.
Your fear… it’s valid.
But you have to feel it to let it help you grow.
And in your growing, I promise it will shrink.
Let the love you so desperately crave show itself.
You ache for love so much it’s made you hate.
You spill the opposite of what you’re longing to be filled with.
So Open.
You can’t fill a closed vessel.
Open.
Your heart. Your mind. Your eyes.
So that the next time you open your mouth
Love is all you have left to fall out.

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DREAM

with your heart & your head

of a future with love

accompanying all words that are said

DREAM

of one people united

that care for the safety of all

a world undivided

DREAM

of healing for all…

spread the message, share the love

& change the world

Don’t Stall.

DREAM

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Every person has a story, whether it’s good or bad, everyone has something to say.  The question that needs to be asked, how or when your story will be told? When people are sitting around, how do you want them to tell your story? How do you want to be remembered? How long will your story be?

“Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.” – Octavia G. Butler