Tag Archives: Spiritual Awakening

AWAKENING TO WALK IN BEAUTY

 How do you create beauty in your life?  Is it external or internal?  How does it make you feel?

Navajo Prayer

In beauty may I walk.

All day long may I walk.

Through the returning seasons may I walk.

Beautifully will I possess again

Beautiful birds …

Beautiful joyful birds …

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.

With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk.

With dew about my feet may I walk.

With beauty before me, behind me,

   above me, all around me may I walk.

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty lively, may I walk

It is finished in beauty.

It is finished in beauty.

In the mountains of North Carolina, walking in beauty is the simplest thing one can do.  Surrounded by luscious green trees and abundant colorful flowers, nature is vibrant in the spring, summer, and fall.  Even when those of us who live here feel bored or depressed, a walk in the forest can lift us up.

The Physical Gifts Of Nature

We have become a culture surrounded by things.  We fill our homes with paintings, nick-knacks, computers, and lovely objects so that we feel at home with the memories they invoke and they communicate to others who we are and what our status is.

Years ago, when I was living alone and making little money as a teacher, I couldn’t afford anything I didn’t absolutely need.  Despite that, I needed to make my apartment feel like my home, so I decorated it with the only things I could afford – items from nature and cheap containers.  I found bird feathers in the yard.  At the beach, there were piles of colorful shells, and as I hiked in the mountains, I gathered small rocks and quartz.

Although my home is now a house full of purchased items, paintings, posters, and artsy clay bowls, I use the baskets I bought in Africa to display my rocks and shells, pine cones and bird feathers.  I especially appreciate these beauties on a winter day when there is snow on the ground and I’ve been cooped up too long.  Their beauty and the remembrance of the joy I felt in finding them brightens my day.

When spring and summer come, they offer us more natural beauties, such as the brilliant blue hydrangeas, golden black-eyed Susan’s, vivid purple iris, and multiple colors of roses.  Not only may we enjoy these when we are out-of-doors, we can pick them and liven the house with their fragrance and beauty.

Many people also plant flowers and vegetables this time of year, but what else are we planting, especially in our minds?

When life becomes especially challenging, we can become rooted in its negative aspects to the point that we become depressed or unable to function well.  At this time, we need to remember that this pain can be relieved to some extent like physical pain.  When our body aches, we may do the easy thing and take a medication or supplement that soothes the discomfort, but nature can be a healing remedy too.

The Healing Gift of Mother Nature

When life becomes a mental or emotional burden, we may lift that burden or at least lessen it by walking in beauty and taking in the gifts it offers.  We may step outside to let bright sun warm and wash us with it’s golden light.  At sunset, we can drive to the parkway and watch the sun splash brilliant orange and red behind the darkening mountains.  Or we may choose to walk barefoot over the grass in the yard or a park and feel the precious earth supporting us from below.

By feeding our senses with beauty and being in the moment to see, smell, and feel the gifts of nature, it becomes easier to return to caring for a sick child or parent, struggling with low finances, or settling for only virtual access to our friends and relatives.  Walking in nature’s beauty can help heal the insecurity we feel and restore the joy we have momentarily lost.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  

The first article here is about my dear friend Jerry who passed away in 2018.  Of all the people I’ve know he was the one who lived closest with nature.

AWAKENING TO WILDNESS, ONE WITH NATURE, Part 2

AWAKENING FROM THE HEART

DANCING FROM OUR CENTERS

 

 

AWAKENING TO LIFE NOW

“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”  Mark Twain

How does your age affect the choices you make now?  Are you happier at this age?  What do you consider the perfect age?

When I first read this quote by Mark Twain, I chuckled.  He always makes me laugh, but underneath the humor is often wisdom.  I’ll admit that at seventy-five I wouldn’t mind being a bit younger with a body that requires less upkeep and has unlimited energy.  On the other hand, at this age it’s easier to let go of irritations and live more in the moment.

Most of all, I’m glad I’m not approaching eighteen.  I was extremely limited at that time in terms of dealing with life’s changes and disappointments.  I had more illness because I didn’t know about my food intolerances.  At nineteen I lost the boyfriend I thought I would marry after college.  But I did have a lot of fun:  being in plays, singing, going to parties.  It’s just that I didn’t have the maturity to always make good choices.

Regardless of whether we are eighty or eighteen, our lives now are full of challenges we could never have dreamed and we have no way of knowing if life will return to “normal.”  In this situation we need some of age’s wisdom as well as the optimism of youth.

Age Teaches Us How To Deal With Change

Life continues no matter how much we may try to stop the change.  But when we’ve been around quite a few years, we’ve learned what we can change and what we can’t and how much time it is reasonable to take in order to make a change.

As we grow, hopefully, we learn how to deal more positively with the difficulties of the emotional stress that change may create.  With years of regular meditation behind me, I’ve learned that when I get emotionally upset, it is best to take a few deep breaths and that calms me.  Walking briskly also works off the adrenal response and strengthens my body at the same time.

After the initial response, I sit quietly and think about what I need to do, if anything.  How can I solve this problem?  Can it be solved or do I need to just accept it?  Does solving the problem involve other persons?  If so, how can I calmly and positively approach them so that they will want the help?  If it can’t be solved, how do I live with it?

Failure Is Not Always Negative

How we deal with a problem is not only related to what it is, but also how we feel about ourselves. If we were not given positive messages about our worth as a child, we may question our abilities as an adult. In this case, it is important that we get the help we need to heal those wounds so that we see ourselves as good and capable people.  If we trust our abilities, we won’t push problems aside or expect someone else to solve them for us.

Hopefully long before we head toward eighty, we have healed any lack of self-worth and learned to accept who we are, not judging ourselves for what we perceive as our failures.  We all experience failures. Sometimes those failures are positive in the sense that they send us down a different path of learning.  Failure may also allow us to explore an aspect of life that we would never have consciously chosen but which presents us with opportunities for growth.

Ballet East Dance Company

One twist of fate in my life began when my family moved to Tulsa when I was about thirteen.  I was not happy at all about leaving my friends.  But there in high school, modern dance was part of the physical education curriculum.  Taking that class, I began to develop muscles and feel physically strong for the first time in my life.  I loved it so much that modern dance became a part of my life for many years. It helped improve my physical health and developed my creativity.

Valuable Aspects of Aging

What I like most about approaching eighty is that I no longer feel driven to accomplish anything.  I write because I love to do it, not because I’m driven to become a famous writer.  I enjoy sharing my ideas with others and especially like it when my blog followers make comments letting me know how my words touched them.

I’m more able to accept my failures or the areas where I lack talent such as my limited cooking skills.  I used to be a perfectionist.  Although that aspect of my personality rears its head from time to time,  I don’t feel a slave to it.  I do the best I can and forgive myself for what I lack.  Growing older has brought me more peace, which is truly a gift, even though I’ll never be eighteen again.

© 2020 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

AWAKENING TO SHARE HAPPINESS

AWAKENING TO LOVE ALL WE ARE

 

AWAKENING TO OUR PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” Aldous Huxley

Have you ever noticed a prejudice you have?  How did you deal with it?  Do you accept your preconceived notions as the only truth?

There is a street in my neighborhood that I use as a convenient cut-through from a major street onto the road that runs to my subdivision.  The street has modest houses on it and a small park.  Just before I reach the park is a house that always attracts my attention.

The house and yard are similar to those around it but it is quite different in one way.  It has lots of “junk” in the yard including a group of shovels, hoes, pitch forks, and other items surrounding and tied to the mailbox.  Other miscellaneous items are grouped in different areas of the lawn – not just dumped there, put arranged in a somewhat artistic order.

I know there is at least one man who lives there because I’ve seen him working in the yard in his jeans and hat.  As I drive by, I scan the yard to see what new items may have been added.  I think, “A ‘red neck’ must live here” and smile to myself as if this is a joke.  “Still, he is rather creative.”

Perceptions Not Based On Reality

But yesterday as I approached the house, I saw the heaps of things on the lawn and thought, “I bet he’s a “red neck.”  Then I hit the brakes.  Hanging underneath the mailbox was a sign, Black Lives Matter.  I was stunned.  Clearly, I had made a very wrong judgement about the man who lived there.

Then I realized that I was perceiving “red necks” as racist.  I was shocked.  I’m not a racist.  Even as a child growing up in the South with a racist father, I had a mother who taught me to care about all people and see them as equals.  I’ve taught Black and Native American teenagers and loved and nurtured them when dealing with administrations who couldn’t have cared less about them.

Defining People Who Differ From Us

But this time the sign’s message slapped me in the face so that I could not avoid the reality that my perception of a person I had never met was tainted with cultural prejudice.  What did I mean by “red neck?”  Well to be honest, I see that as a person who is rural, uneducated, very conservative and narrow-minded.  But of course, I’m not prejudiced!

I explored my thoughts further.  In my mind “red necks” were white people who attacked black people, carried guns, and wanted to fight anyone who disagreed with them.

So what did I know about the man in the house with the Black Lives Matter sign?  Mary Browne once said, “Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom.”  I had decided who this man was when I had only my perception to guide me and I had clearly gone down a back alley.

I think of myself as a liberal, open-minded person, yet my perception had veered into a place that shocked me.  As I continue to think about this incident, I feel humbled by the experience.  I’m not so different after all.  I have a weakness for imagining another’s life with only superficial information.  How often do we all do that?

Changing To Create Equality

Now is a critical time.  How many of us who are white think we know what racial justice looks like when we have never been racism’s target?  Fortunately, the present protests and actions around racism have taken on a new power to educate us and hopefully will change the structures of our nation to create true equality.  It is a potent time for us all to explore in depth our own thinking and clean out the muck!

As Mary Browne suggested, it is time not to judge so that we can open the locked doors of our preconceived notions and allow wisdom to enter.  It is time for us to find peace and experience love for all humans, knowing that there is a reason why people feel as they do based on what they have experienced in life.

I will probably never meet the man whose sign stunned me, but I don’t have to.  I just have to remember to open my mind to all possibilities so that wisdom can enter.

©2020 Georganne Spruce

Additional Readings:

DANCING TO THE DANGER OF ASSUMPTIONS

AWAKENING TO RACIAL EQUALITY

AWAKENING TO LIVE HONESTLY

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO OUR DANCE OF LIFE

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.”  Martha Graham

What is your dance of life?  Does it resemble a rumba, waltz, cha-cha, jitter bug or improvisation?

Whatever name you give to your dance, there is only one person like you, and your life is a dance only you can do.  As you dance this life, it may change, redefining who you are on the inside and who you are in the world.

As Graham suggests, we are created by an inner force that is natural and vital, but if we are to create our earthly life from it, we have to become acquainted with it.  It is not always easy to look inside because we are often afraid of what we may find there,some part of ourselves we do not like.

Graham clearly looked inside as she began to create dances for her own company after leaving the Denishawn Company.  The new dances were intense and emotional, as she was, taking this element to a depth never before seen in modern dance.  In the beginning, some people found her work offensive, but her courage to be true to her creative self transformed and broadened modern dance.

Following Our Own Paths

We each follow our own path.  Externally, it may involve working for a corporation, a hospital, a school, or creating our own business, and what we do there may be an expression of our deepest self or it may only be a place to earn money.  When we can combine the two, we are most fortunate.

When I was young, my parents saw my desire to become a modern dancer as foolish.  How could I possibly support myself doing that? Because of my mother’s insistence, I got the credits needed for teacher certification, and I became a teacher while pursuing dance.

As a high school teacher, I discovered I wanted to help empower those students who were not in the main stream.  Looking back on that years later, I realized I was drawn to them because I did not feel I was part of the main stream, so I was not “good enough.”  But when I taught them, this incredible energy within me bubbled up, and helping them empowered me as well.

I also usually danced the dancer’s life along with the teaching life.  I loved the feeling of never knowing what might show up as I began to choreograph a dance because my experience had taught me that when moving or writing creatively, the most amazing and unexpected ideas could show up, ones I would never think of.

Finding Inner Peace and Vitality

The silence of creativity or meditative practices opens us to that place within where our life force can speak to us and lead us to choreograph a new life or expand the one we have to include new steps. Being with nature can also offer us a place where the outer can create peace within.

I know a group of birdwatchers.  Some of them are retired, but some still work and participate in the walks that take them through the forest to observe and name our flying friends.  At other times some of them also participate in slow hikes identifying trees or flowers in order to connect more deeply with nature because this connection with nature is an integral part of who they are.  The dance of nature is their dance.

I know how they feel.  Nature is also a place where I experience deep peace.  Upon entering a forest, I almost immediately drop into a meditative state.  I grew up hiking through the mountains and forests, learning to name the rocks and trees, but while the naming was not my focus, it helped me connect with their energy and beautiful presence.  After I began dancing, the energy of nature stirred up new ideas for dances.

Finding Your Dance Beyond the External

While dance was a huge part of my dance of life for many years, there came a time when the physical demands of the art began to harm my body.  I was frightened.  Who would I be without dance? It was the core of my identity!

It became clear that I needed to go deeper.  Fortunately, before I stopped teaching dance, I had learned to meditate.  It became a regular practice that took me deeper into the heart of my soul, where I discovered the real source of my creativity, not only for dance, but for living.

As I began to visit non-traditional spiritual groups like Science of Mind and Unity churches, I began to learn other ways of connecting with my spirituality and growing my inner life.  I learned, for example, how to release my fear so that it did not control my mind. This exploration led me to a sense of wholeness I had never known.  My dance of life became deeper and richer, undefined by what I did, defined by who I was.

What Is the Core of Your Dance of Life?

Where has your dance of life taken you? How is your life force expressed?  If you remove all the things you have, the titles you hold, the money and work that defines you, your political persuasion, your religious beliefs, what is at the core of your dance of life?

When we are expressing who we truly are, there is a vitality to it.  We’ve all met people whose vitality surrounds them and energizes those who come near them; while their energy enlivens us, we also feel the serenity at their core.  And that is a peace we all need to find in our own dance of life.

© Georganne Spruce

The Martha Graham Company

READINGS:  AWAKENING TO THE LIGHT

AWAKENING TO THE HOME WITHIN

AWAKENING TO THE ONENESS WITHIN

 

LETTING GO OF THE BAGGAGE

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”  Steve Maraboli

Who have you forgiven lately or who do you need to forgive and haven’t?

One Sunday morning I woke from a dream.  It had been lengthy but I only remembered the last moment.  I was walking through an airport on the way to catch a flight that was leaving soon and I stopped, suddenly realizing I had left my luggage at home.  After I got out of bed and unsuccessfully tried for a few minutes to remember more, I walked over to my husband and said, “I just dreamed that I was in an airport about to catch a flight when I realized I had left my baggage at home.”

Why did I say baggage?  Then it hit me – that’s what the dream was about!  My husband who is a retired therapist began asking me questions about what I thought my emotional/psychological baggage was.  I gave it serious thought but nothing came up.  In fact, other than being disturbed by our president’s behavior and dealing with some back problems that have greatly improved, I’ve been feeling very peaceful.

Baggage I Needed to Release

Later that morning, I remembered a very significant time in the past when it had taken me a long time to forgive and when I finally did, it was transforming.

During college, I had fallen in love with a man six months before he went to the Vietnam War.  We became engaged and when he returned a year later, we married rather quickly and lived together for the next ten years before divorcing.  During those years, I taught in high school and taught some modern dance when I could.  Eventually I was able to dance with a small company fulfilling one of my life’s dreams.

But this didn’t work well for my husband who wanted a divorce.  He later admitted he had had affairs while we were married.  My love of dance angered him because he felt I loved dance more than I loved him.  

“But,” I said, “I told you before we married that I had to dance, that it was part of me, and you said that was okay.”

“Well, I thought you’d get tired of it – outgrow it.”

I was stunned by that revelation, and the pain of his betrayals haunted me for years.

Learning to Forgive

Then one day, many years after the divorce, I finally understood how I had not understood his needs.  Of course he needed a partner totally devoted to him.  His mother had been single, working a job that left him alone most of the day and evening, even when he was in elementary school. He had to fix his own dinner, which often involved opening a can of food and heating it.   He didn’t know his father who had left when his mother became pregnant.  

When his mother married, it was to a man who was untrustworthy and whose mother treated  my ex like he was a nuisance.  These were the only relatives he had to live with as he completed high school.  No wonder he joined the Marines!

Compassion Leads to Forgiveness

Reflecting on his early years, I was suddenly filled with a deep sadness.  On an emotional level for the first time, I understood how deeply he had needed a wife who was motherly, and I was not.  I was an independent woman on her own path when that was not an acceptable way for a woman to be.  For the first time, I truly forgave him for the hurt he caused me, and I forgave myself for being so blind to his needs.  Finally, I was able to leave that baggage behind.

But why was this dream coming up now?  I don’t know.  But I suspect there may be more baggage lurking in my mental closet.  Only time will tell.  

Whom do you need to forgive today?

© Georganne Spruce

Readings:  My Memoir:  Awakening to the Dance: a Journey to Wholeness

AWAKENING TO ACCEPTANCE

AWAKENING TO COMPASSION

 

AWAKENING TO THE SHADOW OF LOVE

“Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking.  The one is the shadow of the other.”  Carl Jung

Do you struggle with the conflict between love and power?  How does that manifest in your life?  What must happen for you to choose love over power?

Recently, we have seen far too many examples of the ruthless use of power. The consequences of the recent government shutdown hurt many citizens who on a normal day work  for the government.  People risked losing their homes, had to seek food for their families at food pantries that usually serve only the poor, and did not have the money to pay their bills.

Why did this happen?  Because the power to control others has become the dominant motivation of many in our government, rather than using their power to serve those who elected them. Where is the caring, love, and devotion to service that we expect from those we elect?

A VOICE FROM THE PAST

About a month ago, I was cleaning out a closet and found an old album of my high school years. It was falling apart and there were some things I didn’t want to keep so I threw them out.  Others were mementos I wanted to keep so I transferred them to a new notebook. But among the items I found, the one that surprised me the most was an essay I had written during my junior year in high school.

I had gotten a “A” on it, but I usually made good grades on essays.  So why had I kept this one?  Was it just a coincidence that I found it at this time? As I read it, I was shocked by how relevant it was.  Every day we either read, hear about or experience the prejudice and horrendous treatment of minorities and immigrants and the persistent inequality toward women.

I don’t like to write about politics on this blog, but I believe this essay makes an important point for us to remember as we navigate today’s muddy waters.

THE SLAVE DRIVER WILL BECOME THE SLAVE

Written November 17, 1960

Those who believe themselves to be supreme cannot endure.  Any man who is so self-righteous is defying the moral laws given to us by a just and true God.  The man who believes he is master of all will fail in the end, for his thinking has become twisted by selfishness, prejudice, and ignorance.

The American Civil War resulted in the abolition of the southern confederacy.  The Southerners had been the masters of slavery, chaining the Negro to a cruel, inhumane life.  This the southern gentleman did in order to provide himself with riches.  After the war, this same gentleman found himself a slave. He was a slave to poverty, hunger, devastation, and depression.  The suppresser had fallen headlong into his self-made pit.

From this has stemmed the discrimination we have today.  It has been vicious and it is almost unbelievable that such a thing exists in this democracy. Prejudice is a master.  It enslaves those who are ignorant and cruel enough to refuse the divinely-given freedom to others.  Its agitators have been filled with a superstitious tradition that comes from lack of reason and the lack of knowledge of truth.

They are not aware that they are dragging the name of liberty through the mud.  They do not care if they are mocking man’s greatest dream.  These people, who at the risk of doing this, are willing to join in mob violence against a minority, are forging the chains of their own slavery.

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God cannot long retain it.”  These words of Abraham Lincoln are the greatest hope we have for the future.  At times it seems as if men who are evil receive all the power and benefits.  They certainly do not deserve it.  We must continue to believe that they cannot triumph. We must continue to believe in the providence of God.  We must learn to respect our fellow man and let liberty’s torch shine bright.  Only then can we feel free from the slavery of prejudice and the punishment of a true, just God.

The End

After reading this, I felt sad that these same issues are still dominant today, that the shadow of love, the need to be powerful, fills our society with injustice.  Over fifty years after Martin Luther King’s death we have still not “reached the mountaintop.”  While we cannot change our government over night, the energy we put out into the world in our daily lives does matter.  We may choose to step out of the shadow of power and act in the light of love.

What love will you express today?

Readings:  AWAKENING TO THE POWER OF PLEASANT THOUGHTS, 

AWAKENING TO COMPASSIONATE COMMUNICATION

©2019 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO THE GIFTS OF SOLITUDE

“Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions.  It needs the whole sky to fly in ….  A place apart—to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.” Mary Oliver

Do you find any value in meditation or writing?  Are they similar in some way?  What does quiet time mean for you?

The Challenge of Distractions

I keep planning to do daily meditation again.  The life in this country seems so chaotic and crazy that it’s too easy to get upset and distracted and I know meditation will help me find the peace for which I long and clear my head and heart.  It will also help me get back to writing, quieting my mind so new ideas may rise to the surface.

But I don’t.  I need to check my email.  See if I have enough left-overs for lunch.  Make another doctor’s appointment.  Check next week’s meeting time.  It never ends – because I don’t end it.

I’m old enough to remember the time when we all communicated only with phones.  We didn’t have the distractions of Facebook or even email.   I also was unmarried most of my life.  Now I’m married but to a man who is very disciplined about doing his writing work in his home office.  While we do have a life together, I can’t blame him for my inability to find time alone. He respects whatever I need.

Sitting in Silence

In some way, I think I’ve forgotten how rich the aloneness of meditation is, but I was reminded in a very dynamic way last week at the Jung meetup we attended.  The topic was “projections.”  After the speaker gave us a meaningful introduction to the topic, we sat in silence in the dark to get in touch with our inner Selves.

At first, I was just grateful that this quiet time was structured into the event.  I had no excuse not to do it.  I was so involved with the evening’s topic that I had already let go of the day’s annoyances.  Taking a few deep breaths, my mind cleared and kundalini energy raced up my spine and opened my mind to the universe.  I was so surprised by this that I dropped back into my body.

Wisdom of the Inner Self

Slowly, I moved back into a meditative space to ask, “What do I need to release?”  The quiet settled in.  The answer came—“jealousy and anger.” The anger didn’t surprise me, but the jealousy did.  “I’m not jealous of anyone,” I thought.  “I have everything I need.”  But that wasn’t what my deeper Self was saying.

Then a picture formed in my head.  I was sitting and listening to a person talk about his years growing up and all the advantages he had, and I was overcome with a deep sadness that he had opportunities I never had growing up as a child whose family had little money.  There were many things we didn’t have or couldn’t afford that others I went to school with had.  I couldn’t buy a dress because we could only afford what my mother made for me.  I couldn’t take dance lessons or buy the best dolls.  We couldn’t afford to go to Disney World.

As the meaning of this message became clear, I took a deep breath, I smiled and sent love to the child within me, letting go of the feelings of lack that accompanied the message. I’m an adult now and have more than I need.

Our time was up, but I felt peaceful.  I would look more closely at my anger issues another time.  We wrote in our journals then left in silence.  I wrote, “The Universe is there for me with its gifts of silence and love.  Within it, I am One and all creativity connects and flows through me.”

Loving Our Inner Selves

Today, after many months of not writing my blog, I have written. It feels good.  I love writing because my inner Self is good company.  She thinks a lot and feels many emotions.  She perceives life in interesting ways.  She reveals insights that my mind alone would never conjure up. She can also be outrageous and crazy, but she’s never boring.

And perhaps this is the greatest gift that solitude affords us even if we aren’t writers:  to like whoever we are in that solitude and to be a friend to ourselves.  We may be different out in the world where so many challenges press upon us.  We may not always handle them well.  We may not always find the best solution to a problem, but whoever we are in that solitude is the self we must love.  By doing so we can become the person we truly desire to be.

Footnote: On the day I started writing this blog, Mary Oliver died.  I love her poetry and am very connected with nature.  I feel a tremendous loss as, I’m sure, many of you do. That day my husband sent me the following piece written by Mary Oliver.  Please read it.  It is beautiful as always and applies to any creative endeavor.

https://voxpopulisphere.com/2016/10/23/mary-oliver-the-artists-task/

 

 

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO THE POWER WITHIN

“WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE OVERCOMES THE LOVE OF POWER, THE WORLD WILL KNOW PEACE.” JIMI HENDRIX

Which do you prefer to be—loving or powerful?  What do you do when you feel powerless?  When you act in a loving way, how does that feel?

We are living in a world where too many countries are under the control of people obsessed with power and who are committing horrendous crimes against their own people in order to show how powerful they are. But their power is only external.

 External Power Has A Limit

External power has its limit. Sooner or later it comes crashing down because its own corruption undermines its authority by not respecting reasonable limits, or those whose needs are ignored rebel. In this country, our new administration is ignoring the needs of those who elected the president; instead, he is serving the corporations who are obsessed with making exorbitant amounts of money.

In this country, the rebellion has already begun. People are speaking up at town halls and by writing, calling those in Congress, and voting. These are the external actions required in order to make the necessary changes. They require time, energy, and commitment.

These are powerful actions, but there is another equally powerful aspect of life that must accompany action. Within each of us is the capacity to love. Those who are obsessed with power often see love as weakness. But it is, by far, the strongest weapon we have.

When we act from love toward another, we fill our deepest need. When we feel loved, we feel secure, knowing that we can weather the storm because love holds us together deep inside.  Love is the power within that leads us to compassionate solutions.

Love Leads Us To Share

Loving others encourages us to reach out to those in need.  It means we act from the heart.  We act from within because we love and care about others.  If we act from love, we don’t eliminate programs that feed hungry children or provide medical care for low-income women. We don’t prevent immigrants from war-torn nations from entering our country.  If we act from love, we respond responsibly to prevent further crisis from climate change, provide health care for everyone, and support programs that train people who have lost their industrial jobs so they can move to jobs in sustainable energy fields.

 

Not Loving Ourselves Leaves Us Powerless

So, what keeps us from doing what will help everyone? Here’s the problem: we have to love ourselves before we can love others. When we don’t love ourselves, we feel weak, powerless, and need external power over others to feel we are okay. In addition, we may look down on those who have less. We make the excuse for not sharing because we believe those who have less don’t deserve help because they haven’t worked hard enough.

Our Obsession With Money Is Unwise

In this country, making money is a major way to obtain power, and now those who make the most money are determined, in many instances, to retain the power to make more money without any controls. There is no limit to the amount of money they need, and they are allowed tax loopholes that make it possible for millionaires to pay a smaller amount of tax than the middle class.

Helping Others Strengthens Us

When we love ourselves, we don’t see helping others as taking something away from us. We see it as sharing, an expression of the love and compassion we feel for others. When others are taken care of, we feel peaceful. We feel good about ourselves and our communities.  We don’t need to acquire large amounts of things to feel good.  We value family, friends, and enjoying the work we do because love grows within us as we travel this earthly journey.

Stopping Violence With Love

It is no surprise that the places where we see the most violence in our cities are the areas where the poorest and most neglected people live.  When you lack so much, how can you not be angry, and anger leads to violence. But what if we spent tax money, not on the military and wars that make the president feel powerful, but instead channel our love and money into the inner cities to create education, jobs, and health resources that will empower those who are mired in poverty.

We will never lose if we do what is loving, for love is the most powerful force that exists.  It is deep and rich and guides us to find what we need to do in life to make a difference that counts. It leads us to peace.

What loving thing will you do today?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:  The Power of Love (Huffington Post), 5 Ways to Deal With Conflict Effectively, Awakening to Effect Change

 

 

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

“Reality is how we interpret it.  Imagination and volition play a part in that interpretation.  Which means that all reality is to some extent a fiction.”   Yann Martel

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How do you envision reality?  Is it based on facts or feelings?  How can you determine what is real in your life?

In the United States, we are all having some difficulty determining what is real. We elected a man who tweets whatever he is feeling or thinking at the time, and what that response is may change the next minute.  So how can we know what to take seriously that he says and what we should ignore?

Reality Isn’t Clearly Defined

It’s quite a challenge.  Although some of us may have had people in our lives like that, it doesn’t necessarily mean we know how to deal with the constantly changing dynamics.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that we know what reality is with these people.  It would be nice if reality were always obvious and clearly defined.

As Yann Martel points out, “Reality is how we interpret it.”  It isn’t cut and dried.  It isn’t a set scientific principal we can count on.  When my first husband left, it seemed like a terrible thing.  This man I loved had betrayed me.  The marriage I valued was over, yet the result of that experience, painful as it was at time, was in the end a good thing for me.  A least that’s how I interpret it.

With more freedom in my life, I was able to pursue my love of modern dance and take chances I would never had taken before.  Because I was so heart-broken at first, I went into therapy and through that came to understand myself more deeply.

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Passage of Time Affects Our Interpretation

Time also makes a difference.  As time passes, the way we interpret an event may change because we are able to see the consequences of the action that took place.  For example, right now we are dealing with the results of an election that some celebrate and others despise.  While we may predict what will happen when Trump actually becomes president, we do not know exactly what that reality will bring.

If We Don’t Like the Facts, We May Ignore Them

Throughout the election many voters ignored several realities.  Trump never paid many people who worked for him and had had thousands of law suits filed against him.  Why aren’t more people uncomfortable with this.  This behavior does not indicate he’s someone who will keep his word or that he has respect for the working man or woman.  Why do they think he’s going to save them?

In order to vote for someone like this, the voter has to ignore this record of reality.  This is a factual type of reality. The law suits are on the books.  There is only one reasonable interpretation of these facts.  He doesn’t keep his word in business deals, so why would anyone believe he will keep his word as president?

We May See Only What We Wish to See

Many created the fictional character Trump to fit their own wishes and desires.  That fictional character will “drain the swamp,” create jobs, and make like better for all who voted for him.  He will also focus on helping those in need despite choosing people for his cabinet that have little experience in the area they will manage or who are billionaires more likely to preserve their privilege than increase their taxes to pay for what the average citizen needs.  The idea that these people will act totally out of character when there is little in their backgrounds to support that hope is truly fiction.

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So why do we choose to believe things that don’t seem reasonable.  Perhaps we get false news so the choice seems reasonable based on the “facts” we’ve found.  Maybe we just believe that if we believe it, it will come true.   I suspect we believe it because it is what we want to hear.  It looks good, it sounds good, it smells good.  Until we look at the underside.

Ignoring Facts May Be Dangerous

Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  It was a shock.  I’ve always lived a healthy life except for the 30 years I smoked cigarettes when I was younger, but I believed that I would never have cancer.  However, the doctor could see the tumor and when it was biopsied, the test was positive, so there was no doubt that it was cancer.

It was difficult to accept this reality because I felt fine and had no symptoms.  But there was that positive test.  Could it be wrong?  I could have chosen to ignore it, but I had had a friend a few years earlier who ignored her colon cancer until she was in Stage 4.  She died a few months after being diagnosed because nothing could be done to save her.  That was the reality.

So, I had the surgery and it was successful.  I am fortunate.  My cancer was slow growing and had not grown into the muscle layer around the bladder.  I have regular checkups and they have been clear.  I’m so glad I decided to face the facts, make a wise decision based on them, and as a result, I have been able to continue a full and healthy life.

Patterns of Behavior Reveal Reality

It is true that the facts are not always the only thing we need to take into consideration when we make a decision.  We have emotional and spiritual considerations also, but it is important to observe what is actually taking place in a situation and if there is a pattern of behavior to observe.

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I’ve read too many stories where women who are in abusive relationships keep thinking the abuser will change his behavior although he never does.  That pattern of behavior is a fact, just as Trump’s belittling of women or the disabled is a fact.  We heard the words directly from his mouth.  It tells us that this person does not respect others, so why would he respect us.  To expect respectful behavior from someone who constantly disrespects others is a delusion.

Why is it important to face reality?  Because it can help us to live a better life, make better decisions, and be more successful in all we do.  It may remind us that our imagination and choices help shape our reality, but that reason and observation as part of our decision-making will serve us as well.

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO LIVE WITH CHAOS

“We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos, negativity, and bullying in the world.  And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy.”  Ellen DeGeneres

Snow Bird Lodge 063What do you do when confronted with an angry person?  How do you find peace when confronted with chaos?  How do you find happiness when there is too much negativity in your life?

CHAOS SEEMS TO SURROUND US

It is a time when keeping chaos at a distance is more difficult than usual.  The news is filled with natural disasters like the fires in California or the floods in Louisiana, with the insults Trump and Clinton hurl at one another, and with the wars in the Middle East that are making normal lives impossible for millions of people.  In addition, racism and misogyny have raised their ugly heads in a way that makes them impossible to ignore.

How do we find happiness in the midst of this without totally withdrawing from society?  The secret lies in how we experience our minds and emotions because the thoughts and comments we hear lodge in our mental spaces and become part of memory.  The more negative ones feed the ego that is always ready for more drama.

Because this is a presidential election year, we have a particular challenge.  We want to learn about the candidates so that we can make good choices about whom we vote for, but the particularly negative nature of the race this year makes that a challenge.  Whether or not we believe what the candidates say, their words and emotions, especially Donald Trump’s, affect our “pain body,” an aspect of the ego.

LEARN TO CALM THE “PAIN BODY”

Eckhart Tolle, in A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose defines the “pain body” in this way: “The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body.” (p. 142) He also points out that people who have active pain bodies tend to attract hostility and conflict. Others can feel the negative energy that is so strong in them and will react to it by lashing out or avoiding that person.

So the pain body is that part of the ego where we store the emotional pain we have suffered throughout life.  It is always hungry and feeds on drama, so negative feelings and ideas activate it easily.  We start to feel angry, hurt, or offended in some way.  We want to react quickly without thinking, and so we easily find ourselves embroiled in conflict or self-pity and at odds with the person offending us.

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DO WE ALWAYS CHOOSE UNHAPPY STORIES?

What is at the core of these unhappy feelings?  Tolle says, “Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness.”  For example, why are so many people attracted to Trump’s negative remarks?  Because he activates and supports their unhappy stories.  He feeds the pain body.  So instead of speaking to what is good in us and our society, he convinces us that our lives are awful (and some truly are) and only he can fix that.  Like many politicians, he speaks to people’s emotions and ignores any contradictory facts.

ONLY WE CAN FIX OURSELVES

The reality is that no candidates can fix us.  We can only fix ourselves by not attaching to the negative stories they perpetuate.  We must find peace in the midst of chaos by going within and centering ourselves.  Then we are able to see healthy solutions to the problems that haunt us and are able to differentiate between the candidate who has real solutions to the country’s problems and the one whose ego promises whatever will make him look powerful.

Becoming aware of the pain body, releasing our unhappy stories, and learning to be present and accept what we are feeling will allow us to be happier because we can then feel who we truly are.

By observing our own reactions, we can become aware of the kinds of events or comments that set us off.  When we are more conscious, we can choose a different path of behavior.

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BE CENTERED IN THE MOMENT

In those moments when the pain body is activated, we need to be in the moment, feel what we are feeling, and release our need to react.  Having practiced meditation, I know how peace feels and I try to release any need to react.  I want to simply be in the moment and observe the story that is emerging.  If I can choose not to attach to the negative emotions and ideas being expressed, I can choose not to experience the unhappiness inherent in the reaction of the pain body.

Every time I feel my pain body activate, I ask, “Do I really think this?  Do I really feel this?  Do I really need to respond to this?  Should I just let it go?  Then I affirm only what I believe is true. Each time I learn more about who I am.  Whether we like it or not, working with the pain body and letting go of our unhappy stories, can change our lives—and maybe our country.

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As Ellen DeGeneres said, “We all want to be happy.”  So, in addition to learning to live in a healthy way with our pain body and not letting it run our lives, we need to focus on what is good in our lives.  What do we have to be grateful for?

GRATITUDE ALSO LEADS TO HAPPINESS

Personally, in this divisive time in our country, I am grateful that Hillary, a well-qualified woman, is running for president and has a good chance of winning.  I wasn’t sure I would ever see that in my lifetime.  Despite all the negative things that are said about her, the fact is that she has worked to help others, especially women and children, all her life.  She has demonstrated she knows how to get things done that help people, and she doesn’t segregate people by race or gender.

When we focus on gratitude, we support what is good in our lives, what we have together and in community as well as in our individual lives.  That is our greatest source of happiness.

©2016 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  AWAKENING TO OUR MISDIRECTED PASSIONAWAKENING TO WHERE KINDNESS HAS GONE