Learning from Nature

“Nature is my religion”

To me, this means – that the natural world, the wilderness is a divinely beautiful system, in harmony with itself – self-regulating and wondrously complex, intricate and sacred.  It is unfathomable, well-organized and astoundingly beautiful at both the micro and the macro levels.

Nature operates more on a rhythm than a calendar.  Her processes of change are interrelated and subtle.  How do two trees growing side by side interact?  They obviously intertwine their roots, and often give space to each other’s branches and accommodate one another.  Until, at some point perhaps one has an advantage and outgrows the other, one grows and one withers.  It’s a chance of fate, of birth and species.  A Douglas fir will eventually overshadow an oak, transforming the forest from hardwoods to softwoods, from deciduous to coniferous.

The Sufis says that the leaves of a tree as the pages of the Bible.  I have taken  time to meditate with trees, and with their leaves.  These otherworldly beings begin their lives as a seed, and absorb, transmute and alchemize themselves into trees, using sunlight, water, air and food.  Somehow they know to do this, it happens, and to intimately witness that miracle is a true spiritual awakening.

We share this planet with so many other kinds of beings.  The sheer variety is more than my human brain can possibly assimilate.  Like a hummingbird, I witness the activities in my garden by casting my awareness around from flower, to leaf, to shaft of sunlight to critter movement to stillness.  Tonight I shared a moment with a raccoon, yesterday a small spider and before that a family of quail who live in the blackberry thicket right off the driveway. I know that the animals and many of the beings that live on this land with me for the past 20 years watch me, know my habits and accommodate themselves to that.  At one time there were three crows who watched as I fed the outside cat (she won’t come in even though she’s welcome) and patiently waited until the cat finished eating to empty the dish.  These days a fox does that job…

After a time spent in nature as my mind returns to its smaller, more human concerns it has become much easier to cast aside those pesky self-limiting and self-judging thoughts. A new perspective has been gained that is more open – more kind, more accepting.  To find myself being a part of the natural world is thrilling, and at the same time since it is actually the natural state, it also feels, well, natural.  Simultaneously relaxed and alert.  Refreshed and reinvigorated.  Renewed and Restored.

One of the purposes of meditation for me is to slow down enough to be able to perceive the subtle activities of the natural world.  To watch the chrysalis open, to catch a closeup view of a butterfly.  Have you ever looked closely at a butterfly’s face?  They are heartbreakingly adorable.  They are little fairy creatures, some of them have polka dotted bodies, other have little multicolored striped antennae… Dragonflies have great big smiles – Bumblebees are all different, some tiny and mostly black, others plump and more yellow.  Why?  This I cannot answer!

What else is to be learned from this holy book?  Patience, allowing, trusting – as the natural world’s processes are so well organized and effective, then is it possible that we, too are so well organized?  That we have an innate program that will choose our place, will allow us to be created into what we really are?  The best healers I know guide the body to listen to its own innate wisdom, for the blueprint for health is already contained within each of us.  That includes the blueprint for physical, emotional and spiritual health.  It all comes back to learning how to listen, deeply, honestly, truly listen.

 

 

a morning meditation

Breathing in, I fill my body with light
Breathing out, I give thanks for this divine moment

Breathing in I forgive myself
Breathing out I forgive everyone else

Breathing in I love myself
Breathing out I love everyone else

Breathing in I rest in awareness
Breathing out I rest my mind

Breathing in I feel light and free
Breathing out I release all that is holding me back

Breathing in I fill my lungs with light
Breathing out I forgive everyone who has harmed me

Breathing in I open to the divine light of love
Breathing out I forgive everyone I have harmed

Breathing in I recognize the Divine in all beings
Breathing out I send healing love to all

Mitakuye Oyasin
All My Relations

 

The Synergy of Community

I spend a lot of time alone – gardening, meditating and contemplating, reading and working.  I seem to alternate between great bursts of creativity and action and extended times of solitude and quiet.  Learning to enjoy solitude has been one of the greatest challenges of my life, and so I am really happy that I am able to savor each moment of alone time with my own being.

Then, sometimes I host larger gatherings – 40 or 50 folks with lots of overnight guests.  This weekend was quite special,  and the delight of joining together to sing and chant engenders an instant ecstasy.  The general vibrations of happiness that seem to move like waves through the room continued to amplify throughout the evening – as singers sang and dancers danced.  We each took our part in the cosmic “leela” as its called in Sanskrit.  The Divine Play, if you will, also known as our lives.  Each event is its own community, a microcosm of the greater group, which is spread across the planet, vibrating in harmonic resonance.

It’s mysterious, this ecstasy that arrives into a crowd of like minded open hearted people.  Palpable love flowing – energetic exchanges of the highest order, happening simultaneously around the room – like an electric charge – we dance together, we sing together we pray together.  We hold each other up.  This is what I live for – to ride the currents of love waves from shore to shore.  And to feel deeply the emotion as it resides in my emotional field – to master the art of recall.  To know that I am not a prisoner of emotion, but an experiencer of it – that makes it all easier.

I am ever grateful for the grace-filled life I am leading.  There is so much to give thanks for – to appreciate.  Today I watched an orange dragonfly flit around the little “pond” that was just revived.  Yesterday there were crows cawing continuously… today the hawks cry…and yet, I ask myself this question – most days – how can I better serve?  What gifts can I share out into this realm, knowing that there are sufferers and wanting to give a hand to them if possible.  My own suffering has diminished so much I am ready to give more to others.  What is the best way to help out, given my own constellation of gifts, skills and talents?

It no longer seems possible to spend time on things that are not calling strongly to me.  I have been reflecting on the ways that I have followed my inner call and have noticed that it is always easy to follow.  So, if there is no loud calling then it must be time to wait, to prepare and to be simple.  Are big changes coming, or I am in the middle of a process and cannot see it yet?  The kaleidoscope of possibilities keeps spinning, and just staying open to the beauty of it is the extent of what I can do right now.

I am interested in the big questions of life – navigating the challenges, understanding how to live in an open-minded, open hearted way, how to choose love.  There are so many tools (priests as one teacher put it) that can assist the powerful journey into the self. Acquainting myself with these tools, much like having a fully equipped woodshop, or mechanics garage – feels like the right path to be taking right now.

I’m open for conversation about the path of the heart – please send me an email if you’re interested in a discussion about where you are and where you’d like to go… if I can lend support, I would be most honored to do so.  My heart is full of love – love for you, love for the earth, love for the Divine One.  Let’s walk the sacred path together.  Community synergy will take us where we want to go…

 

Honesty and forgiveness

I’ve been pondering the effect of dishonesty lately as a potential cause of unkind and even violent behavior.  Is it possible that when we do not speak truthfully that the ramifications are broader than we thought possible?  Besides the immediate results or by-products of telling a lie, or speaking untruthfully (same, same) what kind of ripple effect does that have on our unconscious mind?  What kinds of behaviors are triggered by this cognitive dissonance?  And how, after engaging in dishonest behavior can we set things right in our inner being?

It seems to be that awareness is the first and biggest step towards healing any of our painful personal issues.  It takes willingness and courage to face ourselves.  And yet, once acknowledged the benefits of self-reflection are great, and the saying “no pain, no gain” is true for inner work as much as for physical workouts.  When we first see the ways we don’t live up to our own highest wishes for ourselves it can be painful and cause us to feel ashamed .  And yet, the choice to hide from our own wounded and misaligned parts (also called the shadow) will inevitably cause more pain, and is not a long term solution, no matter how much our mind can trick us into thinking it is a good choice.  Addictions stem partly from the inability to face our shadow, and I would include the collective shadow as well.  Many of our so-called “coping mechanisms” arise from the fear of looking in the virtual mirror of our actions and thoughts.

Courage, dear friends, since the only way out is through. As with most fears, this fear of being inadequate, once faced, loses all its strength.  Instead of sapping our life force, truth increases it and we can align with our personal power.  To me, the meaning of personal power is this:  the ability to live from the authentic calling of our own being.  Being swayed to change so that we can fit in or keep another person happy are ways that we lose power, we disconnect from our being’s most genuine knowing.  Some would say (and I agree) that we disconnect from our soul.  This is not a place of power, but is a place of weakness.

Take heart, for courage is always available to us when we live in awareness.  The more carefully we listen to our “soul” the more we can step directly into a life of courage and integrity.  There are many ways to learn this – don’t take my word for it, this is verifiable by each one of us.  How does it feel to tell the truth?  How does it feel to tell a lie?  From that information, choose your path….Choose Love!

What are the best practices to engage deeply with our own psyche?  I have used what is called “insight meditation” as a tool for inner exploration.  It is simple in concept but takes commitment to reap the full rewards of this practice.  First, sit in a comfortable upright position – spine aligned, shoulders back and down, and close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply.  Once you’ve settled into this breath and feel comfortable and centered, then bring up the question that is calling for an answer.  Hold this question in your mind, if it slips away, gently bring it back to the forefront.  Using this technique I have experienced an effect like descending a rope into the inner chambers of my mind.  Down down down, into the places of unconsciousness lies the answer to the question, waiting silently to be discovered.  When it is reached, an epiphany can occur.

Be sure to come up out of this state with gentleness and self-kindness.  This is an important discovery that has just been made.  It calls for more reflection and contemplation in order to derive the most benefit.  It will be life-changing, of that I am certain.  It is well worth any time spent to unlock the secrets of your own soul.

Bless the journey!

Living in the Light of Love

These are beautiful words – but what exactly do they mean?  What is “the light” and how do we live “in the light”?  Good question!  Oftentimes we can understand a concept by first looking at its opposite.  In this case, it’s darkness.  Darkness is associated with evil, with underground, with hate…it is the yang to the yin of light.  What happens when we shed light in the darkness?  It is easier to see the road, the path, the way.  It is easier to understand the effects of our actions.  It is less scary and more friendly.

Light, then is the opposite of dark.  It is love, kindness, warmth, daytime and clear seeing.  Love is spiritual light.  It illuminates the darkness by showing us the path to walk.  How do we love?  Most of the ancient religions have codified a system that gives us this answer.  Yes, it seems obvious to many that most religions today have lost their way (in the dark?) but their teachings are truthful.  Buddhism has a clear system of guidelines – the 8 fold path which includes right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right samadhi.  That pretty much covers it all.  The 8 limbs of Yoga include the same concepts – non-harming, and more.  These guidelines do leave many actions open to interpretation, but from a clear perspective give us all the information we need to live in the light of love.

How can we use our positive intentions to be more loving beings? How can love guide our words and actions – all day every day.  What is the touchstone for love?  Our heart, which carries the wisdom of the ages can guide the way once we learn how to listen.  This is one of the important results of meditation.  By sitting quietly and centering our mind we can more easily hear our heart’s wisdom.  Through mindful breath (called pranayama in yoga) we learn to silence the mind’s chatter, or to at least turn down the volume on its opinions and reactions.  In this way we can sort through our thoughts to find the ones that will guide us to our desired outcomes.

One teacher reminds us to ask this question:  is it kind? if not, perhaps it is not the correct path…facing our own inner demons and releasing part of our personality that have been instrumental in creating problems for us is a big step, but one well worth taking.  Slowing down our response time is helpful, taking deep breaths at a time of stress, calming our “fight or flight” pattern will guarantee a better outcome in most situations.  Reacting from a place of fear generates adrenaline.  Adrenaline is useful in times of true attack, we can find almost superhuman power in our bodies at such times but at other times, this response can cause more harm than good.  Mindfulness is the key word here, learning to distinguish real from imagined threats to our safety and well being is a big step into the “light”.

A considered response is creative, is purposeful and can lead us to a desired outcome.  A reactive response is the opposite.  How do we become responsible people?  The answers are always available to us and the key is in quieting our mind enough to be able to hear its wisdom.  From here we can truly live “in the light of love”.  The reference to “inner light” is all about tapping into the truth within.  A chaotic mind will cause a chaotic life, if it is allowed to run our lives.  We can live like three year olds (tantrum, anyone?) and yes there are some wonderful aspects of childhood that we want to preserve, but true adulthood has more capacity for responsibility and presence.  Who’s running the show, our inner three year old or our seasoned adult.  Making conscious choices feels good, to ourselves and others.

 

 

 

To Lyme Disease and back again –

It started at ground level (an apt metaphor, to start with a bang!).  I’d planted a daffodil bulb, my first ever.  When its blindingly bright bonnet of a blossom unfolded like an origami miracle, my life began. There was no turning back, the spell was cast!  I became  enchanted by plants.  I dreamed plants, breathed plants and spent every moment I had in the garden, in the nursery or reading whatever gardening book I could find.  I continued to toil in a career for which I was increasingly unsuited until I simply couldn’t do it anymore. I left a lucrative high-tech career for the simplicity of a rare plant nursery and minimum wage work.  Happiness!  Heaven! Each day the plants and I communed, learning each other’s language.  I spent my meager pay on plants and committed myself full time to a life of nurturing of living beings.

Fast forward – 15 years or so – when I purchased a rundown old farmhouse on 10 acres.  This place was my dream palette, and I began planting all my dreams in that Gold Ridge sandy loam soil.  I opened my own country nursery- Wayward Gardens – specializing in plants for hummingbirds and butterflies.  My days were spent in the sunshine, propagating, pricking out and potting up.  I was satisfied, fulfilled and on fire with passion.

And yet, some parts of me were held back.  I loved my work but other parts of my life weren’t so fulfilling- my marriage was on the rocks, my nephew/ward was troublesome and delinquent and my inner being was inconstant turmoil.  I knew there was something missing, a state of being that felt more contented and happy.  I didn’t know how to find it, or what to even begin looking for…

As usually happens in these kind of times, I overworked and became ill.  It was Lyme disease.  I suffered for two years – bedridden.  My doctors were the best, and the treatment was the worst.  I survived, somehow and began rebuilding my strength.

After about 6 months in bed, filled with self-pity and suffering I had a spontaneous vision.  It was a vision of all the suffering people on planet Earth.  I felt connected to them, I saw them – they were in hospital beds, or poor homes, and they had no hope.  I was in a nice home, with full support and yet still I saw I had joined the ranks of the truly suffering.  I was one of them.  This was my turning point.  I had a spiritual re-awakening and realized that healing is a gift, healing is grace, which is bestowed or not.  I also knew that there were ways I could participate in this healing – that I could make better choices in my life to facilitate easier healing.  I needed to pray, and to choose love.  Love for myself, love for others – and to choose gratitude and positive thoughts.  I also made a prayer – “If I receive healing, please show me how to serve”…I saw that offering my life into the service of humanity was the way to receive healing.  I said “Please make it really clear”, a prayer I often make, which does seem to help a lot in manifesting what is wanted or needed.

I spent more time in my healing process, but had more courage since my re-awakening.  I felt humble and thought I might end up in a wheelchair for life, or be seriously handicapped.  I felt OK with that, as long as I could find my service.

After about 6 more months of treatment, I decided I couldn’t endure the antibiotics any longer and the doctor and I decided it was time for me to quit them and see how I felt.  It turns out that the side effects of the antibiotics and the Lyme symptoms are somewhat similar – fatigue and digestive distress being at the top of the list.

Lo and behold I did not experience the Lyme symptoms anymore once I quit the antibiotics.  Hallelujah!  I could live life again, I would be gifted that!  I could still walk a bit (about 5 minutes) but devoted myself right away to walking down my beautiful country road every day until I could easily walk for an hour.  That took about a month, my body was eager to live again.

At this point my marriage had severely deteriorated.  My years of illness had taken quite a toll on our intimacy.  My husband was angry that I had been in bed for so long.  He didn’t like the direction my life took when I was healthy again.  I started helping a meditation teacher.  His work had helped me to a wonderful new place in my life, he said to me “there is so much love for you in this world, Leana”… and I knew I had to find out what that meant.  I knew I hadn’t truly felt love or loved.  I wanted this more than anything.  I trusted him and began helping him almost full time.  He invited me to move to Hawaii and start a community there with him.

I moved to Hawaii and began an intensive self-reflection and healing process.  I was experiencing love in ways I didn’t know existed.  My own emotional body was opening, facilitated by many things:  dolphin swims, Hawaii sunsets, fresh tropical fruit and intensive meditation.  I also used herbal medicines and teas.

One day I sat in front of my computer to write in my journal.  Intense personal transformation seems to call for journalling – since it is a good way to be able to reflect back on one’s progress, and as an aid to compassion for others.  This way we can remind ourselves of the places we have come from.  The stages of heart opening are similar for many of us, it seems.

The stages are something like this, from my experience:

1.  The Realization that something isn’t right

2.   The search for the truth

3.  First encounter with higher truth

4.  The “washing machine” of transformation, which may takes days, months or years during which time life as we know it vanishes and staying present and grounded is a big challenge.  This is a very difficult time, we need a lot of support during this time.

5. The comfort zone – which continues to expand and contract with presence and lack of presence.

6.  Samadhi – the promised land!  (I’m not here yet but do feel it from time to time)

 

bless you all – stay on the path, every moment you give to the Great Work of awakening is worthwhile.  Just remember “Choose Love” and all will be ok.

 

 

Sing your own song

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“It’s the healing of everything, always choose love”… this came to me as a simple song, it flooded into me, melody and words,  complete.  It’s been revised a bit, but in general it remains a simple song, a sweet song, and children’s song (almost) and a kind of anthem.  I do often contemplate what the truth of “always choose love” really is.  Are we autonomous beings, truly capable of choosing our actions in any moment, or are we “pencils in the hand of God” to quote Mother Teresa.  Its a very charged contemplation, my mind screams its support for the “free will” choice, while deeper contemplation shows that words emerge from my mouth before the thoughts are in my head (sometimes, I know, not always) so that the idea of “channeling” is what we are actually all doing.

This is not a very popular view.  What is the mechanism for creating intention?  For creating anything?  Can our minds comprehend the actual manifestation mechanisms of this realm?  The sense I have is that I am allowed to learn some of the back room workings of the Divine Mind, but somehow the challenge of our time on Earth is to live with a sense of adventure, a continual sense of fear to overcome and constant challenges to meet our basic needs.  In other words, its an ongoing “Survivor” episode !

The only things I know for sure are that gratitude and appreciation are rocket fuel for grace.  There is a feedback loop that can be accessed to check in with the soul’s progress towards love.  Humility is foundational to this loop, any sense of arrogance or pride weakens the communication link.

If you understand my words, please connect with me, resonance is beauty.971174_10152095056601647_1437299334_n