Monday, May 16, 2011

Creating Our Own Reality: An Evolutionary Responsibility

Creating Our Own Reality: An Evolutionary Responsibility

"Do you know what hurts the most about a broken heart? Not being able to remember how you felt before."
-- Cassie, from Skins

It was probably fifteen years ago when I first heard the phrase, "We each create our own reality." I'm fairly certain a follower of Jane Robert's "Seth" first spoke it to me, then it was quickly reinforced by a compelling Richard Bach publication. I'm also fairly certain my initial reaction was, "Screw that." Whose wouldn't be? If life is going great, then it's a different story. In that case, of course, I would want to claim some level of responsibility for my success. But what if it isn't? I mean, what if it really isn't going well due to a chronic mental/physical health condition, PTSD, or being victim of some event that was beyond control? At most points in life there falls a darkness so devastating that not only do we not want to feel any connection to its cause, we don't want to connect with it at all. Where do those events fit into creating one's own reality?

It boggled the mind. Having found peace on a shamanic path, a fairly self-governed and ongoing spiritual quest, I just couldn't hear that any harm-filled facet of my past was due to my own creation. To me that's right up there with the concept of original sin, or victim-blaming, both of which subversively imply that it's our fault that we're all damned and if we don't figure out how to get un-damned, that's our fault too. I found no salvation in those age old projections, and I found none in the New Age evangelist gurus who more or less implied the same thing. Better yet, not one of these sages supplied further information on how this self-mastered creation process worked. Indeed, it was a well-kept secret.

Some point down the line the message clarified, stating that our thoughts create our realities. The new edict was backed by references to theories on causality and synchronicity posited by Carl Jung, and even facets of quantum physics relating thought with energy, thus manifestation. I decided to think about being happy. Driving down the road, eating my lunch, doing my job, sitting in staff meetings, and chatting at dinner parties, I thought about being happy. I let the thought of being happy consume me, which by current translation was expressly what the latest APB from the gods said I was supposed to do. But I didn't feel happy. In fact, I started to feel guilty that with all this positive thought I couldn't think myself happy, a fact that left me feeling ...sad. I couldn't figure out why I felt more isolated and down when I was doing the higher consciousness-sanctioned "right thing."

All of that changed when Abraham-Hicks leapt into modern awareness with the Law of Attraction in the early 90s. Essentially the Law of Attraction is, "Like attracts like." Subtly more informed than "We create our own reality," Abraham-Hicks put forward that the internal focus is the outcome. In short, what you feel is what you get.

Finally I understood why I couldn't think myself happy. Trying to talk myself into a state of being that I didn't feel made as much sense as convincing my empty stomach that it wasn't hungry. Talking the mind into a state of being requires more than just commanding it to be so. It requires an inventory of feelings that include already having a sense of the desired state of being. I was telling myself to be something I had no frame of reference to feel. How do you create an outcome for which you have no repertoire of feelings? If someone has always been hungry, how does that person manifest a sensation of fullness and nutritional satisfaction? If a person has always been in poverty, how does that person manifest the secure assuredness of having enough? How was I supposed to manifest happiness when I didn't know what it felt like?

Admittedly, having puzzled that out I didn't immediately jump for joy. No, in fact, I went on to feel terribly guilty about the fact that I couldn't solidly identify swaths of joy and delight in my past. That was the point that I realized I had to start smaller. If I couldn't find eras of pure contentment with my life, then I had to find moments, split second snapshots capturing finer details, splashes of rapture -- being a child sitting in my mother's lap and listening to her sing, roving the county fair and spending all Summer riding bikes all over the county with my cousins, frolicking with my roommates and sister in college, traveling with my lover. Those were the fragile, sheltered moments of happiness that I found. Like my 'thought' experiment, I began taking time throughout the day to remember those moments, specifically to feel the way I felt in those moments. Right away I began to notice that my mood improved, and inside a week I found similar beautiful moments unfolding in my present. By feeling those past joys I was creating happiness in my present.

A hallmark of the shamanic path, whether ancient, indigenous, or modern, is self responsibility. Its center is the ability to deconstruct what is usual, regardless of what "usual" is and observe, experience, and become something Other. In that truth I realize now how harmful those incomplete early messages about creating reality were. Because they couldn't tell me where to focus they taught me to create more of what I didn't want. Even now in this New Age, many such gurus still teach that we are all at fault for the harms that befalls us. In the phrase, "We create our own reality," what most people really hear is, "It's your fault your life is shit, and anything that happened to you to cause you to feel like shit is your fault too." The responsibility of self-creation doesn't lie in analyzing who is at fault for our past, but who is responsible for our present. Only we are. Creating reality is about looking at ourselves differently and being willing to shake it up in favor of something better by reaching into the places we have most hidden from ourselves to do so.

We have one shot at being who we are in this life. Because of that fact, it's not an option to make it the best life we can, but our responsibility.

Kelley Harrell
Neoshaman; author, 'Gift of the Dreamtime'; columnist, 'Intentional Insights'

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day: Honoring Our Many Mothers

Mother's Day: Honoring Our Many Mothers

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

We are aware that to some people, Mother's Day seems to be a holiday concocted by the greeting card and floral companies, a cultural holiday dominated by consumer pressures. For those whose mothers have died or are distant, and for those who have never been mothers, the day touches other sensitivities. But we think any "problem" with Mother's Day is just because typically it is defined too narrowly. There are many mothers in all our lives and many kinds of mothering experiences.

Here, then, for that very special day, Mother's Day, are spiritual practices to honor our many mothers.


In a song titled "Mother's Eyes," Willie Nelson sings: "God's gift sent from above / A real unselfish love, / I find in my mother's eyes." Create a gift for your mother to express your gratitude for her unconditional love. Remember to also thank God for this unsurpassable gift to you.


"The mother's heart," Henry Ward Beecher once noted, "is the child's schoolroom." Share with someone near and dear to you a few of the important spiritual lessons from your heart that you have passed on to your children — or that you want to pass on to your children.


Rent a video about the challenges and rewards of motherhood. Here are a few suggestions: The Dollmaker, Places in the Heart, Terms of Endearment, Little Women, Postcards from the Edge, Stepmom, Anywhere But Here.


In India, women who are profoundly compassionate, nurturing, and wise are publicly acknowledged by the title "Holy Mother." Recall a woman you know or have known who qualifies to be addressed as "Holy Mother." Write a description of what you admire about her in your journal. Tristine Rainer in The New Diary notes: "By writing diary portraits of people who intrigue you, you enter their qualities in your book, in your space, and begin the process of recognizing and taking posesssion of those qualities."


Sri Ramakrishna, the great Hindu spiritual sage, wrote: "Why does the God-lover find such ecstatic delight in addressing the Deity as Mother? Because the child is more free with the mother than with anybody else, and consequently she is dearer to it than anybody else." Try using one or more of the following honorific titles for God: Mother of the World, Mother-God, Goddess, Sophia, Shekinah, Queen of Heaven, Tender Nursing Mother, Gentle One, Wise Old Crone. Gather other names and images of the Divine Feminine that speak to you. Incorporate some of them into your devotions over he next few weeks or months as an ongoing Mother's Day practice.


Meinrad Craighead has painted images of motherhood in its many forms. She explains: "The creative spirit I know within me has the face and the force of a woman. She is my Mother, my Mothergod, my Generatrix, the divine immanence I experience signified in all of creation." Forty paintings, including Garden, are reproduced in The Mother's Songs: Images of God the Mother along with brief meditations by the artist on each of them. You can also see her work and purchase prints at the artist's website: Sit with these paintings and experience the creative spirit and force of the Mother.


Many Native Americans have hallowed the Good Earth as the mother who gave us birth and still takes care of us. A Winnebago wise saying goes: "Holy Mother Earth, the trees, and all nature are witnesses to your thoughts and deeds." Find a ritual way to honor Mother Earth and the bounties she supplies. Follow up with a concrete act to support the Earth, such as helping to clean up or protect an area of your environment.


In Wrestling with the Prophets Matthew Fox writes: "What does God do all day long? Eckhart asks. God gives birth. 'From all eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth. The essence of God is birthing. We are all meant to be mothers of God.' " Meditate upon this understanding that we are all meant to give birth to the Divine One. How and when do you do this in your daily life?


"If you consider as kind the mother who carried you in her womb, how can you dislike any being? For in countless past lifetimes all have been your mother," wrote the Seventh Dalai Lama in Meditations to Transform the Mind. As you walk around on Mother's Day, try to imagine that all of the people you meet have at some point been your mother. Send them love and peace and happiness.

The most common word association with mothering is nurturing — and this practice is not limited by gender or any other characteristic. All of us, male and female, single or married, old or young, have the potential to give birth and raise something in the world. In a prayer written for Mother's Day, Pamela Spence Bakker used the following images. Choose those you most identify with and reflect in your journal or in conversation about which you identify with.

Some of us give birth to:
• children
• ideas
• art
• music

Some of us raise:
• animals
• flowers or vegetables
• our friends
• our parents
• our brothers and sisters
• interest in a cause
• money for charity
• concerns
• our voices against injustice
• our eyebrows
• Cain

Thursday, May 5, 2011

To respond or to react, that's the question.

To respond or to react, that's the question.
By Pam Thomas
Phoenix Life Coach Examiner

Think about the last time you were involved in a discussion or argument where you reacted. How did you show up in that exchange? Prickly? Angry? Defensive? Powerless? Personally, when I am being reactive I become susceptible to all sorts of negativity.

As a matter of fact, I have to raise my hand and admit that I have fallen prey to the guiles of victimhood/reactive-ness most recently. I allowed someone else’s poor behavior and negativity to throw me into a bit of tizzy. (What a tizzy it was too with f-bombs included.) Fortunately, during my little visit to the dungeons of victimhood/reactive-ness I remembered something very important; I have a choice as to whether or not I want to allow someone else’s crap behavior (which I have no control over) to impact me. I also came to the realization that the negativity that was making my heart heavy and zapping my power was also leaving me susceptible to getting sucked into further drama, chaos, and unhealthiness of the situation.

The bottom line; when we don't react, we detach from the negative charge. We hold on to our own personal power, a.k.a we don't allow something or someone else to make us feel small or insignificant or worse yet a victim to the circumstances.

So here are few things to try when you find yourself reacting rather than responding:

During "heated" times try taking a deep breath, sit quietly for a moment, and give yourself that time to settle your emotions. Doing something as simple as breathing deeply will help you to come from that place of responsiveness where words are chosen with care and thoughts are clearer.

If you have to, excuse yourself from the conversation by letting the other person know that you would like to table the discussion and give it some thought.

Allow your emotions or the signals of your body (i.e. tension) to serve as your trigger and then ask yourself the following question, “What do I choose right now?” When you remember that you have a choice, you take back your own personal power to respond.

Whatever you choose it can be truly liberating and rather powerful to come from a place of responsiveness rather than reactive-ness. In addition, you avoid the drama and chaos and experience much more peace and positive well-being so here's to the power of responding.