Category Archives: Inspiration

Why Am I Here?

ritchie shootI have a habit of jumping off little metaphorical cliffs, just for the fun of it. A five day Class V wilderness river trip, never having laid eyes on an inflatable kayak before in my life? Sounds good, when do we leave. A week long hike across the desert with five total strangers, no trail? Why not. Project manager in Iraq without any experience as a project manager (and unarmed)? I’m packed.

None of these experiences were necessarily fun in the most superficial understanding of the word. (And I’m not advocating that anyone follow my dubious lead …) Yet they were all outrageously fun in an overall, deep, and unconventional definition of fun that has the potential to describe my understanding of why we choose to be here in the physical world.

Amusing, entertaining, enjoyable … we’ve wrapped ourselves into a very narrow definition of fun. We expect ease, light-heartedness. We expect to be entertained in the most passive sense. Perhaps we expect all laughter and some advertisement’s vapid idea of the good life, aiming for mimosas and mansions as if happiness were dependent upon a material nirvana of endless smiles. In our concept of fun, no one gets hurt, no one grieves, no one gets sick, and no one dies.

What a crushingly dull show.

There exist scientists and writers, artists and athletes who have a different idea of fun: athletes ice climbing or slogging up dangerous mountains, biologists diving in frigid Antarctic waters, marine geologists spending weeks at sea eating revolting food – when they’re not seasick, painters who feel physically ill facing a new blank canvas…

How can those things be fun?

Madame Curie, Isabella Bird, Ada Lovelace, Gertrude Ederle, Gertrude Bell. Charles Darwin, Sir Joseph Banks, James Bruce, Buzz Aldrin. How can it be fun to swim the English Channel? How can it be fun to nearly freeze to death in a blizzard? How can it be fun to spend weeks, months, years in a crude laboratory working out one single scientific experiment? How can it be fun to fear you’ll disintegrate on re-entry?

On a more culturally comprehensible level, some equivalents: why is it fun to go to scary movies, or read books about someone else’s horrible illness or excruciating struggle? Why is it fun to watch tear-jerk movies, or read a book so ripping that you weep for an hour when you’ve finished the final page? Why is it fun to hear about a friend’s awful experiences of food poisoning or bug infested hotels in Djibouti or Singapore or Delhi?Why is it fascinating to follow the Egyptian uprising through Twitterers who are right there in the bloody streets? 

Perhaps because those things contain something new. Some challenge for the mind, the body, or some stretch for the imagination. Some frisson of wonder. Some question that can’t quite be answered: Can I do this? Could I do that? How will this change me? How would I handle that?

Mountaineers have said that people often ask them why they climb mountains. Why expend so much energy, why risk one’s life for something essentially meaningless. Sir Edmund Hillary’s famous answer to the question of climbing a mountain, Because it’s there, has a crystalline brevity that purely expresses a deeper concept of fun.

small blueishFun can include stretching some part of oneself to the limit, then finding that limit can be exceeded. Experiencing something never experienced before can ultimately be exciting and fun, even if moments within it are terrifying or excruciating. Fun can be practicing skills, challenging them, deepening them into something extraordinary. One exquisite moment, never imagined, can make thousands of horrid moments of a journey fade. The beauty of the whole arc of an experience has the potential to transform the perception or memory of the journey into wonder, and instill a deep sense of gratitude.

When I flew out of Iraq on R&R, after six months of working eight to fourteen hours every day of the week, I’d be so grateful when it took a couple of days to get a flight out of Kuwait. It meant I had forty-eight hours in perfect Kuwait limbo: no colonels, no roadside bombs, no projects, no gunshots, no expectations, no problem-solving, no rockets, no questions, no friends, no thoughts, no nothing. The only real world was Iraq, and I had left it … I was in a strange, meaningless, and perfectly safe dream between dreams. I’d burrow into my sleeping bag on some skanky bunk in a dusty tent full of skanky bunks. Savoring the delicious nowhere of where I was in the moment, empty and completely relaxed, I was free to avoid or savor all the strange memories of Iraq, and I savored this very strange feeling of luxurious contentment and boredom. Then I slept deeply for forty-eight hours, dragging myself out of bed only a few times to eat, groggily wondering at the power of intense experience, the emptiness of lost familiarity, and how profound strangeness could be so endlessly fascinating, so fun even during the times that I hated it.

Why are we here? To serve humanity, to express the creativity of the all, to expand the potential of the self, to deepen understanding of who and what we really are … maybe that too. But the most fundamental reason that we’ve entered the physical reality is, I believe from my experience, because it’s fun.

fun: amusing, entertaining or enjoyable

Fun: interesting, challenging, surprising, expanding, frightening, sorrowful, exciting, grievous, comfortable, painful, relaxing, exhausting, shattering, integrative, fascinating, weird, confusing, amusing, entertaining, infuriating, enjoyable, sensation-al

Marian Lansky has recently posted (yet another) extraordinarily clear and solid contemplation of this subject on her blog, Outrageous Undoing. In it she says, What I believe we are doing here on Earth is the equivalent of finding ourselves suddenly at base camp, about to climb Everest, with no memory of how we got there. So in our minds as we climb, there are no loved ones… there is no home, no cozy kitchen, nothing to return to. And while we are climbing, somehow, through the extremity of experience, we retrieve those memories, because that’s what we challenged ourselves to do.

Is it possible that we get ourselves good and lost purely to see if we can, with no resources, completely cut off from our Source and its unconditional love, find our way home?”

Everyone’s idea of what constitutes an acceptable a challenge is a little different from the next person’s. Each person’s idea of what challenges might be fun will be unique. As whole beings, though, I suspect few if any us would expect that a physical world lifetime of nothing but mimosas would be wildly entertaining. Would you sign on for a hot air balloon ride then spend it lying on pillows on the floor? I know – you’re afraid of heights. Okay … would you drive to Key West then lie in bed with the lights off for two weeks? Would you throw a party then spend it mute, sitting in a chair facing the wall?

Marian also says in her contemplation of this subject: “Yes, I am creating my own reality but surely, surely I did not consent to the painful childhood, the mother’s illness, the death of the loved one!

Surely I had nothing to do with the early abuse, the cruel teachers—the suffering part of the equation. Surely I was a victim of the cultural mindset I chose to be born into and luckily, by the skin of my teeth, I was able to wake up enough to grab the reins and clear my own mind and vibrations. Surely I had nothing to do with setting up the first part of the equation? 

Maybe I came here as a volunteer to fix the world’s problems, but lately I’ve begun to have the conviction that the world is not broken—that it’s one of an infinite number of probable parallel earths to which I have access through my own vibrational focus.

So who would be crazy enough to volunteer for this much suffering? It’s insane! Isn’t it?”

Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. Because suffering is a result of beliefs about what is real, what we are capable of, and what is fun.

“Why am I here?”

Would it make sense to ask ourselves that question within a beautiful experience that we consciously created for ourselves? Would it even occur to us to ask that question while watching an exquisite sunset on a warm beach while cuddled up with the love of our life? In February? It probably wouldn’t even occur to us to ask.

As a whole self that question may be like the beach scenario – moot because just being here is so saturated with joy. Being here is interesting, challenging, surprising, expanding, frightening, sorrowful, exciting, grievous, comfortable, painful, relaxing, exhausting, shattering, integrative, fascinating, weird, confusing, amusing, entertaining, infuriating, enjoyable, … sensation-al …

Being here is fun in the deepest meaning of that word. 

Marian asks, “Are we, in fact, absolutely safe, experiencing a sometimes cruel and exacting form of reality TV on a universal scale, purely for the joy of finding out that we can do it? Purely for the ecstatic realization that even in this slowed-down, dark and dense physical experience, we can remember who we are and become lucid within this dream—thereby completely informing it with joy through our own creativity?”

Suffering is optional. Why me, why am I here, why am I experiencing this while others get to experience that … ? These questions can only exist within a context of belief that we can be hurt, that we can be a victim of something – anything.

If we are here for the thrill of it, those questions lose meaning. Instead we might begin to ask other questions:

red leaf treesHow can I best respond to this moment?

Can I find an arc of joy or fun even in this experience? Can I somehow exercise my curiosity in this exploration of something I’ve never experienced before?

Can I own even this as my own, all mine, assuming it as unique and valuable?

Can I remember, even in this experience, who and what I really am? 

Can I reach what I was sure was my limit then exceed it, discovering something I’ve never imagined? 

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The Power of Love

Another beautifully inspiring interview, this one a 109 year old woman who survived the Holocaust:

Watch Alice Herz here

Even the bad … Even the bad is beautiful.

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Flow Music Improv, Life Improv

snowflakes under scanning electron microscope

This is an interesting video interview of a musician and improvisation professor (link below). The ideas he speaks of are applicable to life –  the “spirit” of living.

Casey Sokol Interview

Thanks Katherine!
Happy holidays!

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Healing: Admitting Curiosity

If you’ve ever been in prolonged physical pain and/or discomfort, you know how hard it can be to feel a connection to the non-physical (Spirit, God etc) from within that. How hard it can be to find that point of peace. The physical sensations are overwhelming. The mental and emotional weight is incredible.

plant paperToday I’m heartbroken that people I’ve recently met who are having this sort of experience have an added burden: they’re judged by others and by themselves in the name of energy and spirit.

People in pain – physical or emotional – are so often judged by western cultural programming on an all but unconscious/base belief level. Sick people did something to deserve it (they’re reaping what they’ve sown: bad things don’t happen to good people). It’s their own fault (they didn’t eat right, exercise, keep their mind in the Right Space). They should know better (they’re not as smart as we are, and get what they deserve).

Based on that deep cultural programming, our own anxieties about pain and illness can make us uncomfortable, influencing our choice of words, our demeanor, the energy we emanate. On a base level, unconscious or subconscious, people who are ill or in pain can be perceived as a threat to our peace of mind, a frightening reflection of our own vulnerability, a source of embarrassment for our own inadequacies in expressing compassion and curiosity. Sometimes we communicate those judgments without even realizing we’re doing it. The person in pain often picks up on it, though. 

The so-called New Age perspectives are often no better. Many of those messages are equally narrow and judgmental: you created the experience (you screwed up; there’s something wrong with you); you can heal yourself (so if you don’t you’re a failure).

These judgments are not useful. More than that, they aren’t true.

What if every single human experience is valid and valuable, whether it’s an experience of joy or one of pain and despair? I think it’s true: Every single human experience is valid and valuable.

Instead of judging someone by a set of beliefs about the way we think energy or the All That Is (God, Spirit, Allah, The Force, whatever) works, what if we admit that we don’t know it all?

What if instead of judgment – and let’s include diagnosis – what if instead of judgment and diagnosis, we apply curiosity? What if we assume that what someone else is experiencing is on behalf of all of existence no matter what the experience is, and from there consider that we might be being offered an opportunity to deepen and expand ourselves and our understanding of reality.

What if we each asked, “What is the terrible beauty of what they’re experiencing, and what is its gift?”

What if we asked ourselves, “What is this soul doing? I wonder what this person knows that I don’t know, going through this experience?”

What if we admired the daring of people experiencing no healing – of people who choose not to heal their physical bodies or emotional lives, of people who are seemingly “unable” to heal. What if we assume that their decisions, choices, experiences and even their attitude toward what they’re experiencing is right and valuable to their Whole Selves, and may be an act of service for others – for us?

What if we set aside all judgment and simply admire the fortitude that it takes a soul to even imagine exploring whatever it is they’re exploring? What if we set aside all judgment and simply surrender to our own pain at seeing them in pain, experiencing our own compassion?

What if we thank them?

What if we thanked individuals who are hurting, physically or emotionally, for providing us with the opportunity to release judgments and fears that we didn’t know we had or that we didn’t have the guts to call up out of the shadows on our own?

What if we thanked these people for giving us the invaluable opportunity to express and deepen our capacity for and expression of compassion, and co-passion?

We create our own reality has layers of meaning and truth … it’s so simple and can seem so complicated. What if sometimes creating our own reality means surrendering to the wisdom of a wholeness of self that sees beyond our present personality’s experience or understanding. Even when we see deeply, perhaps we ought to remain aware that seeing deeply may not mean seeing all, and that feeling connected to spirit and wisdom might not mean that there’s not more depth of connection and wisdom to gain.

We create our own reality isn’t an excuse or a justification for diagnosis and judgment, self righteousness and critical attacks – critical attacks against others or against ourselves. It’s not a demand to be perfect. We can be such deluded perfectionists … we can assume such a narrow, discriminating idea of perfection. Here’s what I suspect though, and try to remind myself must be true: perfection is infinite. Illness and dis-ease are included. Every single human experience is valid and valuable.

Healing rarely happens in an atmosphere of criticism and judgment – wielded against the self or others. Healing happens most often within acceptance, within moving into and through What Is.

And healing can take many forms. What if healing the physical body would rob someone of a more valuable form of healing? What if the definition of healing includes, for instance, finding the peace of surrender, of allowing?

My Aunt Ginger, who suffered from lupus for many, many years, had this to say: I think that the only real prayer is the prayer of acceptance.

By admitting curiosity through the door, into those places that we think we’ve got locked down as fact, perhaps another layer of understanding and wisdom gets revealed. Maybe we can heal people’s hearts by sharing a little love, respect, and acceptance, even if neither they nor we can’t heal their bodies. Maybe through grace and compassion we can be that little touch of the spirit in their lives at a time when they feel as if they can’t quite find it directly on their own.

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While I’m on Holiday …

While I’m on holiday for a couple of months, I’d encourage you to check out and follow my friend Marian’s blog, Outrageous Undoing – a brilliant clarity for applications of impossible things.

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We Know How

Paul Rademacher, friend and former executive director of the Monroe Institute, recently attended a memorial service for Carol Sabick de la Herran, who succeeded him in the executive director position. In this lively essay, he reminds us that death’s passing is nothing to fear because we know what we’re doing.

Check out Paul’s thoughts (and other essays) here: Lucid Greening.

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Check it out: Outrageous Undoing

Marian Lansky continues to post lovely light, clear essays that cut through the noise. If you haven’t yet, check out her blog Outrageous Undoing.

(Cheers, Marian 😉 )

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Trust & Surrender: another gem by Marian

Another delightfully light and concise essay by my friend Marian on trust and letting go:

Outrageous Undoing

Enjoy …

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Healing: the Effort of Holding on

When I was a child there was a time when I dreaded going to school. One particular day I woke and decided to pretend that I was sick. Sore throat, headache … a mother can’t prove that you don’t have a sore throat and a headache, not like faking the flu or something, eh?

So I played out the little charade with my mother, and she bought it. I laid in bed all day, so relieved not to have to be in school. What if I didn’t have to go tomorrow either?

My mother was in and out of my room, so all day I pretended that my throat was sore and my head hurt. I vividly imagined what that felt like, how I would act were it true. By the end of the day my throat became a little sore. By the next morning, I was sick.

This was a revelation to me. I could make myself sick! At that time in my life, it was a gift of magic – I kept myself sick for two weeks to avoid unpleasant things at school.

It didn’t occur to me until thirty years later that if I could make myself sick, it logically followed that I could make myself well.

When we’re sick, it’s easy to slip into the misery. We’re distracted by pain or discomfort, foggy-headed, fixated on the symptoms: how does this feel; is it worse; will it get worse; how do I fix this? We run through remedies in our minds: drugs, surgery, time. We believe that it takes ten days for a cold to run its course. We believe some malady requires certain drugs to cure.

If we believe it, how can it be otherwise? In believing, we have created.

Our human minds are stubborn in holding onto those materialist beliefs of cause and effect, even if we’ve experienced something that reveals them to be a fiction. But we can re-train our minds. We have that choice.

The most effortless state of a body is health.

Think about that for a moment. The most effortless state of a body is health.

DSC_0009I had to vividly imagine my sore throat to create it, then I had to maintain that mind. After two weeks of that, I knew I had to let that go and face school. You can’t have a sore throat and fever forever. I decided to be well. I let go of the sickness and released the reason for it. I consciously chose to do that.

I let go. I returned to no-effort.

Where do we get in the way of that effortless health? In our minds. We hold onto fear, we resist, we criticize ourselves and our bodies. We believe misinterpretations of reality instead of  noticing and trusting our own experiences.

If we begin to remind ourselves – as often as necessary – that health is the natural and effortless state of the body, my experience tells me that we will begin to heal ourselves.

Each person is different … take the drugs, have the surgery, lie on the couch with a cold for ten days … an overnight transformation is unlikely. I start at the very simple beginning, an awareness. “Oh look, I still believe this drug will help me. That’s okay for now … I’m becoming aware that the natural state of my body is health, and that the state is effortless. I’ll just relax into that thought, infuse myself with ease for a few moments or a few minutes as if that were real.”

Perhaps within that relaxed moment I’ll find the value that I placed on being sick or uncomfortable. I’ll find the way that I thought that would protect me or serve me. And then I can begin to mentally let that go. To release the tension, the effort that it took to hold that belief in place.

Each day is an exploration, an adventure in experience. We have the choice to allow that experience to begin to return to its natural state: effortless.

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Dr. Bell NDE: Self Healing in This World

This is an interesting account of a man’s NDE and his subsequent conscious healing of his body:
Dr Bell’s story

If you don’t want to read all the how-I-was-injured etc, skip down to the “My Subconscious Clinic” heading and read down from there. Some useful, applicable information that anyone can use.

(Thanks for sending me this link, Anne.)

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