Tag Archives: contemplation

No More Auction Block for Me

Given the state of the political world this past year, I have started thinking about protest music – songs that make a statement about the need for social change.

Protest music has been around a very long time – as long as there has been music and something to protest.  At times the complaint is hidden within allegorical lyrics, or the tone of the song contradicts the content – for example it can sound like a ‘happy’ song though the words betray that.  In other cases, happy lyrics can be sung in a sad sounding key.  Other protest songs are musical storytelling – an oral history through song.

‘No More Auction Block for Me’ is clearly a direct statement of protest about slavery by simply stating ‘no more’.  ‘No more whip lash’, ‘no more pint of salt for me’.  It is powerful in its simplicity.

Can there be healing in a protest song?

In looking for the first song to write about here, I first listened to the version sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock.  It sounds more like traditional black spiritual music that I have heard.  It was very powerful to hear the voices harmonize and weave through the melody and lyrics of the song.  I then listened to Paul Robeson’s version – I initially did not like it due to what seemed to be a British accent, but as I heard each of these versions as well as more modern versions, his low voice and the lyrics started to reverberate through my body.  I got images of my root chakra and glimpses of an energetic shattering of the fear and immobilization created on that auction block.  This happened with ‘casual’ listening in my living room, with no personal knowledge of being a descendant of a slave.  I can only imagine the impact during a sound meditation.  The lyrics are written below as well as links to three different versions: Sweet Honey in the Rock, Paul Robeson, and Odetta.  All touch one’s soul in a slightly different way.

Take a listen and let me know how they impact you.  Does the melody sound familiar?  It was subsequently used by Bob Dylan for his song ‘Blowing in the Wind’

No more auction block for me.                  No more, no more.                                        No more auction block for me.             Many thousands gone

No more driver’s lash for me.                    No more, no more.                                        No more driver’s lash for me.               Many thousands gone

No more whip lash for me.                          No more, no more.                                         No more pint of salt for me.                  Many thousands gone

No more auction block for me.                   No more, no more.                                        No more auction block for me.              Many thousands gone

Paul Robeson

Odetta

Sweet Honey in the Rock

A Shaman in Kansas

What would Dorothy have done following her return from the land of Oz? She got back home by clicking her heels three times and repeating a mantra to herself: ‘there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home’ until she did get back home.
Then, when back home, nobody believed she had been on this amazing journey in the land of Oz.
The movie ends at this point but if the story were to continue, what would have happened?
She would have continued her journey. She would have looked for answers to understand what happened to her, and would learn what she would need to do to get answers to her questions and to continue to grow.

She would have gone through a phase of not speaking about her experiences, not wanting to experience the scorn of disbelief, but would instead go on long, contemplative walks. She’d sit on a rock, close her eyes, and in her mind, go back to that land. As she did this, overtime, she would find herself reaching new insights. New insights about herself as well as new ideas on actions to take that would enable her growth while living in Kansas. The first action would be to no longer be silent about her experiences.

We all sometimes feel like we are living in Kansas, or sometimes we just work there – existing in a dustbowl where nothing really thrives and everyone barely makes enough to get by. We imagine, fantasize, about a life ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ but rarely take action. We all have the ability, however, to have that colorful life on this side of our dreams. And, it does not necessarily involve leaving Kansas. It involves contemplation, gratitude, and acknowledging and experiencing the loving relationships that are already there. What does need to shift is our sense that we don’t innately have the power to change our circumstances – clicking our heels, changing our attitude and taking action.

What is your Kansas? What can you change about your attitude? What is a small action that you can take today? I would love to hear from you.

Throat Chakra

Chakra five is the center related to communication through sound, vibration, self-expression, and creativity. It is the realm of consciousness that controls, creates, transmits, and receives communication, both within ourselves and between each other. It is the center of dynamic creativity, of synthesizing old ideas into something new. Its attributes include listening, speaking, writing, chanting, telepathy, and any of the arts – especially those related to music and sound.” Anodea Judith

Prayer and meditation : prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening for the answer. The problem is that being in our own head during meditation is like sitting in a crowded bar – you can’t carry on a conversation.

Chakra five – the throat chakra is where our inner world, perceptions and our experience are expressed. We tell our stories, express our feelings and we are creative. We reconnect with sacred sounds and our higher consciousness through the fifth chakra. We ask for things. Chakra five is where our idea of how things ought to be meets how we really are.

Part of the effects of energetic damage to the throat chakra is that we come to place greater importance on how we ‘ought’ to be, at the expense of expressing ourselves authentically to the world. We don’t know what we feel, what we really like or what we want or we may know, but are afraid to say so and hide our true selves. We worry about what people will think; wonder what the ‘right’ thing is to say or the ‘right’ way to say it. We lose touch with how we feel inside, focusing instead at trying to guess at what other people are thinking or figuring out what they want to hear.

“Be careful about what you pray for, you just might get it”

Exercises for opening the throat chakra:

lion pose – you make a ‘ha’ sound while opening up your face – wide mouth, sticking your tongue out as far as possible, open your eyes as wide as possible. (if you google lion pose, you will get a hefty amount of images that will help guide you)

toning – I wrote about this in a previous post: http://wp.me/p3PoH2-x

Part of the work involved in opening up the throat chakra is getting in touch with your authentic self, accepting that imperfect self and then taking the risk of being more authentically you to the people around you. It is important to start with people you know and trust that they will support you as you open up.

Crown Chakra – who has your head?

What spiritual path are you on? Having a path, a framework that guides your thinking and behavior is important to help you as you face your trials and tribulations. From the smallest broken shoelaces that we face on a daily basis to major issues and traumas that can be so debilitating, having a path enhances resilience.

Your crown chakra connects you to the Universal Energy, your Higher Consciousness. Your spiritual practice is like soothing balm that energetically flows down through your chakras: informing how you see and interpret events thru your crown chakra and your third eye/intuitive 6th chakra; helping you know what to say with your throat chakra; soothing your hurts and your ability to give and receive love and compassion with your heart chakra. Quenching the ‘self-will run riot’ of your fiery third chakra where you want things to happen on your own terms. Balancing dualities, black and white thinking, and the ‘other’ through your second chakra. Helping you process your fears through your root chakra. As you face your ‘fight or flight’ situations, you know that ultimately you are safe with the protection and guidance of your higher power.

Notice that I said spiritual ‘practice’ not ‘beliefs’. Your belief system may provide a framework, but you are what you practice to be. It takes more than sitting in church or temple on a weekly basis. There needs to be a daily spiritual consciousness and activity in order to create and maintain the energetic flow from your crown down to your root chakra and back up again.

As we work our way up the chakras, we work through the blocks that we have in our lower chakras. As we do so, we achieve greater insights into ourselves. We bring what was previously hidden from us into the light of greater consciousness. On our energetic journey back down the chakras, we take this greater consciousness and apply it to our behavior so that we can work towards being our higher selves.

Often, in psychotherapy , there is a goal of attaining ‘insight’ with the belief that somehow, if an individual understands themselves better, this person will then make the necessary changes in their life. Ideally, this would be so. This usually only happens if the individual lacks the right knowledge. For example: If you ask the question ‘how do you get from here to Elm Avenue?’ The answer may be ‘make 2 rights, then go to the light and make a left and you’ll be right there’. Why would anyone ignore such clear instructions? If only life could be this simple. In life, one often asks ‘how can I improve my life?’ The answer inevitably includes: ‘you should practice daily meditation, regular exercise, eat right, and be of service. All the books in the self-help or health and wellness section of the bookstore address one or more of these issues.

Many people struggle with developing a daily spiritual practice. In our culture of immediate gratification and lack of connection to the earth, a daily practice can feel uncomfortable or impractical. It feels too slow. We can get stuck in the first 3 chakras of working for more safety, more pleasure and more material goods all fueled by fear of not having enough and give those activities more priority than working with our higher, unafraid selves.

Do you have a spiritual path? Do you have a tiny flame of spiritual inspiration that needs to be fanned by your awareness of its existence and letting go of fear? What can you do to let your light shine?

Fourth Chakra – The heart

All you need is love – So simple, yet so hard…

The heart chakra is at the center of all the chakras. The element associated with it is air. We all breathe the same air. Without air we can only survive a few minutes. Without love, are we really living? When we breathe, there is a balance between input and output. The same holds true for all matters of the heart. One cannot give without ever receiving; one cannot endlessly receive without ever giving. As with breath, sometimes we hold our love out of fear. As with breath, we sometimes may need to do 2:1 loving* in order to restore balance to our heart.

I have worked with many people who say they will no longer love because they have been hurt in the past. Although it’s understandable that past trauma or loss impacts a person’s ability to get close to others, trauma doesn’t have to be a death sentence on your future. As Marianne Williamson says: “we are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.”

Our culture emphasizes fulfilling the needs of the first 3 chakras: more safety, more security, more pleasure, more fun, more ‘getting my way’. All this changes though, with love in the mix. Anodea Judith describes it this way: The first chakra is solid earth – unmoving, static. The 2nd chakra introduces movement, separation. The third chakra is where these moving objects collide and release energy. The 4th chakra is the organizing principle – love. “Once we perceive objects and their activities as relationship, we begin to perceive the perfection, balance and eternal nature of these relationships.”

What to do , what to do…

simple exercise: Think about a person you have a resentment against, someone that really irritates you. Now, for the next 30 days, pray for them or send them a positive wish or hope for their health and well-being. For example : “I hope (pray) that “name of person” has good health and happiness, and that they have a nice day today”.

See what happens in 30 days! I think your heart chakra will be a little more open!

* 2:1 breathing exhalation is twice of inhalation. Discussion about what 2:1 loving would look like can be the topic of a future blog post.

It’s Inevitable – How to Save the World

I am requesting that everybody reading this post set aside 1 minute each day to contemplate on healing the world / the universe. I have my alarm set to go off every evening at 9pm. At that time, I stop what I am doing and visualize the planet earth. I visualize healing energy to geographic locations that are experiencing political unrest, natural disasters or man-made disasters. I usually visualize blue, violet, or green healing energy to a particular spot or enveloping the whole globe.

I actually had started doing this a while back, but had slacked off for the past month or so. This morning in a meditation though, I got the thought to start doing this again and to put the word out so more people will do it too.

Below is a quote from David Bohm’s ‘Wholeness and the Implicate Order’.

“One might say: ‘Fragmentation of cities, religions, political systems, conflict in the form of wars, general violence, fratricide, etc., are the reality. Wholeness is only an ideal, towards which we should perhaps strive.’ …. Rather, what should be said is that wholeness is what is real, and that fragmentation is the response of this whole, to man’s action, guided by the illusory perception, which is shaped by fragmentary thought. So what is needed is for man to give attention to his habit of fragmentary thought, to be aware of it, and thus bring it to an end. Man’s approach to reality may then be whole, and so the response will be whole.”

I see so many commercials for ‘end of the world’ shows on TV. Then there’s the news programs that report on ever increasing random violence. It’s gotten so bad that I recently imagined myself getting a gun for protection. Prayer and energy work was not on the table. It’s pretty easy to get carried away from a media-influenced world view. Through that lens, prayer and energy work is easily forgotten.

But there is another lens, another framework to view all this violence and discord on this planet. This lens which includes ‘all there is’ allows for individuals to be able to make a difference. ‘All there is’ includes us. We can make a difference not by donating money or marching in a protest (though those are good too) but through prayer and energy work.

David Bohm was a contemporary / student of Einstein. What he is saying is the same as many people say, such as Marianne Williamson, Louise Hay, Ekhart Tolle, and various ‘New Age’ type people.

Many years ago I read ‘Dancing Wu Li Masters’ by ….. Which connects spirtuality/ New Age ideas and quantum physics. At the time, I was entering into some spiritual practices that my skeptic mind was having difficulty with – I did not want to be ‘deluded’ into believing in something that wasn’t really true. This book helped me take my next few spiritual steps.

This link is to an earlier post of mine from a couple of years ago, entitled ‘How to Save the World’ which approaches this idea from different angle: How To Save the World

Let me know if you start this 1 minute practice, and if you have other ‘world healing’ practices let me know, let US know, as well. It’s ALL GOOD! If you still have doubts, that’s fine too! It’s ALL GOOD!

You Spot It, You Got It

One indirect way that fears rear their ugly head is to take the form of projection – we believe others are feeling something that we in fact are feeling, but are unable to acknowledge: ‘THEY think I’m _____’; ‘THEY are saying ______’. It is then easier to focus on angry feelings: ‘ how dare someone judge me or gossip about me.’
Projecting your own fears makes them unmanageable because it is impossible to control what someone else is thinking or doing. But if you identify and ‘own’ your feelings, then it becomes more likely that you can work through them. You can become more active in getting the necessary skills or support; You can
process with someone who knows you and can give you more accurate feedback.

Chakra framework

The chakras energetically hold all of our life memories. Throughout our lives, our consciousness is impacted by the events of our lives. If we do not or are not allowed to process these events in a functional way, our interpretation of these events is what leads us down the road of shame; self blame; secrecy; automatic thoughts or automatic feelings that no longer apply. If you journal, reread passages from different years of your life. Is there a theme that emerges? A theme will most likely emerge in the interpretations you make, which tend to center on fear or shame.

Chakra work gets around over-analyzing data. It is important to have an understanding of your issues through psychotherapy and/or self-help groups. Chakra work is not a short cut around the traditional process of psychotherapy and possibly painful emotional work; but it does help release emotions / thoughts that have been hidden from view. Sound healing restores balance to your chakras. Depending on where you are in your personal healing – chakra work will enhance or deepen the work that you have already done/are doing and lead you to greater freedom from the shame or fear based thoughts.

Third Chakra – Solar Plexus

third chakraAs we move from first and second to third chakra, we move from passive elements of earth – influenced by gravity; and water, going down the path of least resistance, to fire which burns up, destroys and transforms. First we build a sturdy house where we can get all our basic needs met and feel safe. We make a family and allow ourselves to experience joy and pleasure. Then we say to ourselves ‘is this all there is?’. There is this whole great big world out there, where do I fit in it? Part of the work of the third chakra includes our will and our sense of power; our will helps us change, to take risks and get out of our comfort zone. Do we feel powerful, in control or powerless, unable to take the reins of our life?

One can get stuck in the energies of the first 3 chakras when the question ‘is this all there is?’ is answered by taking actions to attain yet more perceived safety, more money in the bank, more pleasure, more sense of control. The feeling that what one has is not enough is usually fueled by fear and unresolved issues. In order to continue energetically to a higher order consciousness, one goes beyond the self to a Higher Power, to knowledge and actions that reflect the beliefs that ‘it’s not all about me’ and that the hole in your soul will not be filled with more ‘stuff’ or more power.

The fire of your will and your actions is fueled by the air element coming from your heart chakra. Your ability to thrive is enhanced by your compassion, expressing yourself in a healthy way, your attitude and listening to ‘the still voice within’, and by your spiritual life and beliefs. This is not solely about your particular life circumstances, but how you handle your circumstances and if you have compassion (for yourself and others), ability to seek help, and belief in a Higher Power that helps you rise above your immediate circumstances and helps you look at the ‘bigger picture’ of your life and place one foot in front of the other.

Sacral Chakra

As we work our way up the chakras, it is important to remember that energy flows downwards as well as upwards. All chakras are active and influence each other both positively and negatively depending on our history and what we have worked on as well as what we are currently acutely dealing with.

As we move from the first chakra to the second, our energy expands: From earth to water, there is a liberation of energy. Once you are safe and your basic needs are met, there is now time for pleasure and joy.

There is the image of a child on a beach, running towards the ocean, then running back to shore for safety. Each phase of childhood development is faced with this cycling between risk and safety: being able to experiment with joy, play and pleasure while having a safe ‘home base’. Trauma, shame, inability or lack of opportunity to process a difficult event or even cultural or religious mores connected to the work of the second chakra leads possibly to impact a person’s ability to risk joy, to risk pleasure. Imagine one extreme of being thrown in the ocean in order to learn to swim – sink or swim. Or the other extreme of being held back from even getting close to the water because ‘you never know what could happen’.

Addictions are a part of second chakra work. They are a way of seeking joy, pleasure and a way of avoiding pain. Addictions may be due to earlier trauma, but addiction may be due to having the genetic/cultural or familial propensity towards an addictive behavior, without necessarily having a trauma or situation that is ‘making’ you drink or do something else addictively.

The chakras energetically hold all of our life and past-life memories. Throughout our lives, our consciousness is impacted by the events of our lives. It is also impacted by our collective history – as a gender, race, cultural group. If we do not or are not allowed to process these events in a functional way, our interpretation of these events is what leads us down the road of shame, self blame, secrecy, automatic thoughts or automatic feelings that may have been helpful or appropriate, but no longer apply. If you journal, reread passages from different years of your life. Is there a theme that emerges? A theme will most likely emerge in the interpretations you make, which tend to center on fear or shame. Same play, different actors. Or like I used to like to joke ‘I was in the same relationship for many years, the only thing that changed was their social security number.’

It is important to have an understanding of your issues. Chakra work/sound healing is not a short cut around painful emotional work, but it does help release emotions / thoughts that have been hidden from view. Chakra work/ sound healing gets around over-analyzing historical data, also called rumination. Sound healing restores balance to your chakras. Depending on where you are in your personal healing – chakra work/sound healing will enhance or deepen the work that you have done/are doing and lead you to greater freedom from the shame or fear based thoughts.

**I want to give thanks and credit to Anodea Judith, PhD, who is inspiring me with her published book on the chakras: Wheels of Life, and whose work and way of looking at the chakras greatly influences my thinking**

creating a sacred space

sacred space In order to begin the practice of meditation one needs to create a sacred space. Sacred spaces are not just meant to be in cathedrals, churches or other special locations. A sacred space is an area that you set aside for yourself – a space where you can spend some time in prayer, that is dedicated to prayerful thinking and can have objects that are spiritual or contemplative in nature; or maybe they are simply pretty to look at. A candle, statue, rosary, sage, incense are some items that come to mind. Depending on your spiritual inclinations, you could have a cross; a Buddha statue; or prayer beads – whatever calls to you. It is a space, area, spot that is not used for other things – like placing the remote, or TV Guide, or last night’s glass of soda.

This sacred space does not have to be big. It could be a placemat with some items on it that are important to you, possibly a daily meditation book or even an index card with your favorite prayer written on it that you can read aloud during your prayer time. Maybe your sacred space is portable – you put it out, pray, and then put it away in a safe place. Possibly, your sacred space is in a discreet location – something that only you would know was sacred – such as corner of the room or spot behind a curtain that no one goes near.

As you think about creating your sacred space, what are the thoughts or feelings that come up? For some it may be centered on issues of safety or privacy. For others, there may be thoughts/feelings of unworthiness – feeling embarassed about setting aside a space for meditation and prayer. Who are the people in your household ? Are they supportive of something like this? Are you afraid to find out?

sacred space

Write down your thoughts, no matter what they are. Write down all your desires, concerns, fears, hopes related to setting up a sacred space. I’d like to hear from you what your obstacles are to creating a sacred space for yourself. This is the work. The inner work does not begin after the sacred space is created, the inner work is getting to the emotional place to be able to have one – to get through all the issues, whether real or imagined, that block setting up that space.