Category Archives: Philosophy

Who We Are

Who we are, the energy we bring to any endeavor is vital to the outcome of that undertaking. I was once sitting on a log in a quiet, shaded area of a city park, just enjoying the day when I noticed that a not fully-grown squirrel was approaching me from the end of the log. I was delighted! But then I had the sudden fear based thought, “What if it has rabies?!” Immediately the squirrel turned and ran away. I hadn’t moved a muscle, made not one sound. The thought took a millisecond to pass but the energy of the thought was enough for the squirrel to pick up and understand.

When you are engaged in something, no matter what, your energy is affecting your entire body and everything around you. Animals are the barometer of the kind of energy you have – the proverbial canary in the coal mine at an energetic level. For the past two years, I have been working with chickens in different capacities. Recently, a small group of them has come entirely under my caretaking. Chickens are fascinating, curious and friendly creatures and I love taking care of them.

My favorite part of the day is in the morning when I open the coop and the birds enthusiastically rush out to greet the day. Although I don’t do anything overt — outside of standing there and watching — that tells them how much I enjoy them, they know. After a few months of this morning ritual, the kingpin rooster, Big Mike, now comes over to give me a personal greeting every morning – a peck on the hand – to let me know that they are glad to see me too. He even ran all the way down the hill the other day to greet me when he saw me coming. Animals are intimately aware of all of the energies around them.

This is true of anything. Your energy affects everything inside and outside of you although you may not be in the least bit conscious of that. Remember this if you are trying to make change in yourself and in the world. Are you approaching change with mindfulness, compassion and empathy for yourself and all concerned, or are you infusing negative energy into whatever endeavor you are undertaking?

Thinking About…

I’ve been thinking about thinking. What if you could unroll the entire lifetime of your brain, word by word, like a ticker tape? What a shock and an education that might be! What is thinking? How does it happen? Here’s what I came to. Thinking is a way of sculpting and arranging energy — your own individual energy. The process of thinking assembles and organizes the elements of our lives, both conscious and not so conscious elements, into something intelligible.

Thinking happens by virtue of the ‘mind,’ which is composed of thoughts. But what is ‘mind?’ Sally Kempton, author and Meditation instructor says, “…the phenomenon we experience as “mind” is actually a particularly vibrant and subtle kind of energy. An ocean of energy, in fact, in which waves of thoughts and emotions arise and subside.” The mind is a tool that individualizes energy by engaging the process called thinking.

The mind is the most important tool that we have. Think of it as a horse. You can leave a horse out in the field to wander, or you can train a horse so that you can ride it, enter it in races or shows, or do work that you can’t do yourself. Just so, you can train the mind to consciously serve your purposes or allow it to wander endlessly and waste away all of your energies and talents.

What do you spend your time thinking about? Is your mind enthralled constantly by all those pre-taped messages that go through it over and over and over (a form of self-hypnosis) – broken records of past unresolved events, ungrounded fantasies, bland repetition of who knows what? Does that accomplish anything beneficial for you or anyone else? Is that really the process called, “thinking”? Let’s hope not!

You can use the mind in countless ways. Think about it! Some of the synonyms for thinking are reasoning, rationalizing, discerning, intellectualizing. You can ruminate, ponder, reflect, cogitate, meditate, deliberate, muse. Within that framework, thinking can be many things. It can be a response to internal feelings or external stimuli. It can be your way of creating representations of your world and your life – your particular perspective. It can be a way of directing your thoughts to resolve problems, put together information in a way that clarifies and brings deeper understanding. Or you can use the thinking process to create — in the sense of someone having an idea and then thinking through the process of designing a city, house, a rocket, whatever.

How does ‘thinking’ come about? Each of us has impulses towards certain activities; moods or attitudes that come from feelings – feelings of depression, curiosity, anger, love, harmony, discomfort, etc. Each of those impulses or moods draws to it a certain constellation of thoughts and behaviors. Out of that constellation of thoughts, you can take what you want and ride the wave in that particular realm. That wave — for instance, curiosity — can be creative, coherent, expansive, or it can be negative and destructive– ie., depressive thinking.

The power of directing your thoughts is called concentration. Concentration draws all of your energies into one coherent stream — called one-pointedness in Yoga philosophy. In Christian terms, it could be said: “If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light,” lighting the way to greater understanding and action; bringing flow to your life. One-pointedness, singleness of mind, can direct that inner stream of energy into something that is organized and powerful. When you learn to concentrate, you learn to use your energies to your greatest, and possibly everyone else’s, benefit.

Begin the practice of concentration by choosing something that you love to do – learn to knit, do woodworking, dance, research a certain subject, etc. — and put your heart and soul into it even when the going gets rough. In this way you are learning to direct your energies, to be single-minded-one-pointed, and train your thinking processes. You’ve made a decision to choose and use your thoughts instead of letting them use you or wander aimlessly. You’ve trained your horse – the mind – to take you where you want to go. That’s what brings empowerment, satisfaction and a rich, wholesome life.

Time to Go?

It was dusk, close to dark, the time of deepening shadows. The chicken yard was empty. I went out to close the chicken coop and was about to return to the house when for some reason I decided to look under the coop. There in the obscurity of darkness was a form. It didn’t look quite like a chicken, it looked like an upright lump. I couldn’t distinguish a head or tail and it wasn’t moving. But I knew it was one of the hens. I called to her to come in but she didn’t move so I knew something was wrong. I called to her a couple more times, and then finally I found a long branch and gently herded her back into the coop. It would have been sure death by some hungry predator for her to stay out all night.

The next morning I could see clearly that she had injured her neck. She couldn’t pick up her head to get to the feeder so was pecking along the floor for spilled pieces of grain. Having seen chickens with injured necks before, I knew this could be terminal. Later in the day, when all the birds were outside, I gave the injured hen, who was standing stark still, alone in the middle of the chicken yard, a handful of grain. Immediately the other chickens came over and gradually sidled her out of the way. Then, as I tried to prevent the healthy group from eating it all, Big Bird, the turkey rooster, flew at me. I realized immediately that I was interfering in the natural order and that I needed to let go so they could take care of the situation. They knew she had to go. An animal has to be able to take care of itself or it becomes a burden to the group. Big Bird was letting me know.

The rules of Mother Nature are imbedded into all animals. The hen instinctively knew the scheme of things and that was why she had objected to coming into the coop the night before. It was her time to go. The law of Nature says that the sick and injured must go and I had interfered. The hen was ready to die. That evening when I went to close up the coop, she was not under the coop waiting for the salvation of death. I went inside. She was under the heat light, in labored breathing. I felt sad for my ignorance — maybe It would have been an easier death for her to have been taken by a predator. I looked at her and thought, “She will be dead by the time I come to feed them in the morning.”

Morning came. As I walked toward the coop, I felt angst at the thought of carrying out the body of my little friend. I stepped tentatively into the coop and there she was in the corner – alive and with her head up! She scarfed up a healthy meal from the feeder and I knew she was going to make it. Not time to go!

Fear

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” But, in these times, it seems reasonable to be fearful doesn’t it? Everyday brings news of another mass killing; men of all ethnicities going out and randomly killing off everyone in their vicinity. And then there is climate change. The world has been assailed by increasingly frequent and violent storms that kill off masses of people in the blink of an eye. If it isn’t quick death, then from Love Canal to Flint, it is a slow, debilitating process of death that is caused by the invisible poisoning of our Earth — air, water, soil, food. If that’s not enough, then there is the looming threat of financial collapse causing misery or death by poverty. It seems like everywhere we turn, Death is looking us in the eye. It is frightening! It’s a wonder we don’t all wake up in the morning and just run out of our houses screaming in terror!

Why would Roosevelt, a reasonable and intelligent human, say that fear is the only thing to fear? I was once face to face with a Rottweiler that lunged, completely unexpectedly, from the corner of a porch toward me. Because I had been a regular Yoga/meditation practitioner, I had cultivated a state of internal calm and centeredness. When I saw the dog out of the corner of my eye coming for me, fear did not arise in me. Because the gaping abyss of fear was not there, the dog stopped, almost in mid air, turned and went back to its corner.

It has to do with being whole inside. Fear eats you up. The state of constant, subliminal fear breaks down your inner integrity. Fear can save your life in emergencies, but, with a persistent presence, it can also be like a leprotic disease, creating holes in the fabric of your being. In Nature, healthy plants aren’t attacked by disease, only plants that are already sick — same with animals. Predators have mechanisms that tell them when something is weak or sick and they go for it. It’s a green light for annihilation!

When calm is your abiding state, when you are able to stand back from the melee and get quiet inside, a whole new world comes into play. Peace is an unassailable ‘defense’ system. It doesn’t allow fear to exist.

The Heart Hears!

One night I was sitting quietly, fully engaged in the music that I was hearing — a playlist of some of my favorite pieces — classical, pop, inspirational, world music. I realized that it had been a long, long time since I had taken the time to actually, fully listen. My entire being was feeling sound, absorbing rhythm and essence into every cell of my body and Psyche. Not to be cliché, but because I was wholly present to the music, it struck a deep chord directly in the core of my heart, a place I hadn’t been able to reach for what seemed like eons. Something significant shifted and awakened in me as I listened. What followed was an altered state of consciousness and a night of profound dreams.

Some, maybe all, of the most powerful moments in life happen directly through the heart. We make connections with people, animals, art, nature, music — all aspects of life. Heart-to-heart connections are the very sustenance of life. The word heart itself contains intriguing relationships. The words ‘hear,’ ‘ear,’ and ‘art’ are contained in the word heart. It is not a far stretch to add an ‘h’ at the end of ‘heart’ to include the word ‘hearth,’ a home, a place that warms and nurtures the entire being, which is a primary purpose of the heart. The heart is the hearth of the body: the home of love and connection to life. The home is the heart of life.

Have you heard the phrase, ‘the ear of the heart? Genuine meaning often escapes the mazes of the linear mind, which hears only the superficial. The intelligence of the heart, the ‘ear’, can detect the spirit and essence of what is being communicated through any medium. Beyond actual physical hearing, we have intuitive senses. The deeper meaning of words comes directly through our heart-felt intuition. Jane Roberts, famous intuitive, comments, “…we will be intuitively aware of what the other person is saying to us: we will know what is beneath words. We will also use words better ourselves to communicate our inner feelings since we will know what those feelings are.”

We get it at a feeling/intuitive level because the essence of sound, the basis of words, is vibration. Vibration itself has primal meaning, which creates the essence of words. In some cultures, there are people who can understand many languages because they feel the substance of words, the meaning of the vibrations, through the ‘ear of the heart.’ Herbert Whone in, The Hidden Face of Music, comments that, “In a material existence…a man has to delve deep to get to the heart of the matter.” The heart hears!

Sound is, of course, the basis of music, which is a nonverbal expression of human communication. Music is a medium that affects the heart directly both psychologically and through physical vibrations. I’m sure that you find this obvious! In ancient Greece, music is one of the nine Muses – the Divine Muse. She is the one who presides over all the others. She is mighty and powerful. She can make your heart soar or send you into paroxysms of sadness. She penetrates the heart directly and intimately. Her power creates bridges from heart to heart.

Author Herbert Whone expands on these deeper influences. Man, he says, “…is capable of tuning in to, or more simply hearing, the song of any other being in the universe. It is for this reason that we find the word ‘hear’ embodied in the word ‘heart’. It is the universal heart, which is the source of true wisdom, and ‘to get to the heart of the matter’ is a saying that reveals the truth in this. Real hearing is a penetration from heart to heart.”

The kind of Music you listen to can totally change the disposition of your heart. Try an experiment. Sit or lie down comfortably. Select a few styles and rhythms of music to listen to. Pay close attention to your heart’s response. Get to the heart of what you feel. Your feelings are like shades of color in the background of a painting. Notice that your feelings change with the music; even the heartbeat changes. Observe how each piece affects you emotionally. Feel the spirit of the music move in you — that spirit can transform everything!

Mitchell L. Gaynor, M.D. in The Healing Power of Sound says, “In a series of studies that examined how music affects blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing, and other aspects of the autonomic nervous system, participants’ heart rates were found to respond both to the volume and the rhythm of the music. And in some cases, the heart rate or respiratory rhythm actually synchronized with the beat of the music.” Gaynor goes on to describe further studies where music reduces anxiety, heart and respiratory rates, and changes blood pressure.

Music is a soulful, moving pursuit and can connect you to the deepest source of yourself through ‘the ear of the heart’. When you speak from your heart, your source, you express the music of your soul. Music that brings inner harmony can heal. As a part of your health maintenance plan, try listening regularly to healing music. It is a lot cheaper than a trip to the hospital — and steady doses of healing music on a large scale might even lower insurance rates. Perhaps, if heartful music had a prime place in our homes and culture, the rate of shootings in this country might decrease, wholesome connections abound, and the measure of sanity increase.

Your heart is your inner hearth, your home – a place to return to for harmony and comfort. Your own words, used wisely and in harmony, are the music of your soul. These are crucial reasons to use speech and music to harmonize our hearts so we can become healthy humans. The potentials for utilizing Music to heal the heart of a culture and to increase our abilities to connect with one another are myriad and necessary. Increasing our ability to absorb the wonderment and sacredness of life through sound and music are worthy and compelling endeavors.

Ain’t Got No Body?!

“Most of us have undergone rigorous training in ignoring our bodies. Bodily awareness is not some peripheral function, but the foundation of our sense of ourselves and our ability to respond to the world.” Says Susan Aposhyan, expert, teacher and author in how the body and mind are integrally intertwined. How connected to your body are you? Do you believe that your head is your only necessity in life? Do you live only in your head? The body is an intelligent organism made of components that work cooperatively with all aspects of yourself to make you a holistically healthy, functional being. Everything that happens in life affects the body as well as the mind. The mind affects and shapes the body. The body is a reflection of your mind and it also shapes the mind. The information that comes from the bodily intelligence helps to organize the mind.

What you don’t know about your body can impede your effectiveness in the world. You can ignore it or make it a slave at your own expense. Every feeling and thought you have is correlated with physical sensations. Those sensations inform the mind about your experience in the world. When you are in a chronic, stressful situation that you cannot effectively escape from or impact in a successful way, for protection, you suppress unwanted sensations, feelings or thoughts.

Your body then creates physical defenses by habitually constricting the muscles, thus deadening the tissues of your body, a defense that is called ‘armoring’ in some psychological systems. Once you suppress or defend yourself against certain thoughts and/or feelings, you are no longer aware of them which means you have cut off communication to that aspect of your being and don’t have conscious access to those feelings and thoughts and what they need to tell you. Feelings and thoughts are correlated with sensations: armoring deadens sensation.

Physiologically, this coping strategy of defense is stored primarily in the muscles and fascia – a sort of plastic wrap that wraps around, communicates with and connects together everything in the body. Fascia allows and supports a river of energetic flow throughout your body/mind. Armoring cuts off the flow of blood, lymph and energy in your body so that you are no longer fully alive, you have numbed parts or large areas of yourself; you no longer have awareness of certain areas or access to all aspects of your intelligence.

Armoring or defense structures after a certain point no longer serve a beneficial purpose. Simply becoming aware of your defenses actually begins to change the armoring, to thaw the numbness which then allows the life flow to resume. This is a first step to opening to your greatest potentials and to a healthy, more vibrant, energetic body and exciting and satisfying life.

Vote with Your Life!

 

The problems of the world can appear so overwhelming at times that it seems almost impossible to get a grip on it all. And what to do about it? Reading the news can feel depressing at the least and even disabling at times. How can anyone do anything about something so apparently enormous? How can one lone individual bring about change — or is it all just a cookie cutter life?

Long ago, when I thought about the enormity of the world’s problems and saw the injustices in my own backyard, my sense of rightness directed me to work toward mending the holes in the tapestry of the common good. This is called Tikkun. Tikkun is an ancient Jewish concept that means ‘repair of the world’. So based on my own proclivities and my own experience of bias against women in so many areas, I made a decision to start my own business – with a few dollars and using just a simple, three line classified ad. I went into fields related to outdoor work and home repair, fields usually relegated to men. The business was successful and was one of many woman owned businesses that blossomed during that period and began to open doors for women. To me it seemed a far more powerful way of affecting personal and political reality than voting.

With that recognition in mind, I’ve continued to create my own businesses. There are three concepts that have guided my decisions about what I do in the world. The first is Tikkun, already mentioned. This second is based on ‘the personal is the political.’ This is a slogan that came from the feminist movement and means that what you do affects everyone at many levels whether you are aware of it or not. The third concept is that of ‘Right Livelihood.’ This is a Buddhist concept that means you implement, as your means of livelihood, that which is in the spectrum of the common good and this will have a beneficial affect on all living beings.

In light of those beliefs, climbing the competitive success ladder only to make a boatload of money was not my primary goal. The common good was. I made enough to have the basics of life and a small amount extra and I was happy with that. I loved what I was doing, I did It well and my enthusiasm for change carried me past all obstacles. I knew that what I was doing for a living, along with so many others working in the same direction, was making a difference in the system. I continue to make choices based on what I see needs mending in the world tapestry. It is not easy to go against the grain of capitalism, but I don’t regret any of my decisions. In the end, many small acts of courage by many concerned individuals are what make the big waves that change the world.

Is there something you want to change? What gives you enthusiasm? What do you see that needs mending? Is there some way you can use your skills, predilections and gifts in a way that will benefit more than yourself . . . that will benefit Mother Nature and all her relations – meaning all living beings? You don’t have to start a business. You don’t have to do anything formal. Use your imagination. Act from your heart. Vote with your Life!

 

 

Magic Mind

  • What kind of life do you want? What would be the purpose of that life? There are many road signs in our language that point to the phenomena that we create our own reality: “You reap what you sow.” “What goes around comes around.” “You made your bed, now sleep in it.” Why does life happen in the way that it does? Do you want to change that?
    Eknath Easwaran, a distinguished Indian philosopher, comments, The Mind, they say, observes the so-called outside world and sees its own structure.” (p.13. Bhagavad Gita. Easwaran), meaning that we see our own internal reality, the contents of our mind, reflected in external reality. We pick out the pieces that match our beliefs and put them together, usually subconsciously.
  • As you become conscious of what you are putting out there, you can make changes according to your response to “What kind of life do you want? In other words, as you become aware of what drives you, you will then have the tools to clearly assess and direct your own reality. If you change the contents of your mind — the way you think, your feelings, then how you understand and experience reality will change.
  • All that the mind contains is what you pick up through your external senses: hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, touching. This input is structured according to your inborn or genetic factors, familial upbringing, experience and culture. “When we were born we experienced a continual flow of visual and auditory sense impressions but we had no interpretations for them. It was by experience that we learned to understand what we were seeing and what we were hearing.” (“Ensouling Language.” Stephen harrod Buhner.p.129) These experiences created a structure of thought systems or a string of perceptions and these understandings or thought systems became a framework through which you perceived the world. You encounter the world through the windows of perception.
  • Like a horse with blinders, you have a limited view because of the circumstances of your particular life. When an event happens, what I see and experience is not the same as what you see and experience. This is where the allegory of the blind men and the elephant come in. One thought the elephant was a tree (leg) another thought it was a snake (trunk). We are all touching the same elephant but each enjoys a very different part or aspect of that elephant. We do have similarities in our experiences and these are what attract us to particular situations together. Your reality then is limited but not predetermined; you have a say in the creation of your own reality.
  • IN order to create your own reality you have to be aware of and understand your thoughts and feelings and their results. When you maintain awareness of your inner landscape and have intention about what you want in your life, you can then choose the contents of your mind and recreate your beliefs and thought systems in order to navigate life more effectively. You can choose what you want to live and manifest. Know yourself! Life is not totally under your control though. Shit happens because there is randomness built into the Universe or we wouldn’t have choice. There are billions of others creating reality too, so understand your feelings and thought systems, change what doesn’t lead to your chosen destination and be committed to your dream! Awareness, intention and commitment are the essential ingredients to success in your journey.