New Age Reality Check

key-2471021_640Trust Your Experience. Always.

I have been concerned with some harmful beliefs that I realized had taken root in myself and other healers and spiritual practitioners. I may make some people angry by saying these things, but that is not my intention. In the past year or so, I have seen so much harm come from this, I feel I have to share my thoughts in case that maybe someone out there needs to hear it, and in the hope that no one else suffers needlessly. My hope is to share my experience, bring awareness, and possibly to prevent harm to others.

We often develop the belief that someone who practices healing, or who has a spiritual practice no longer has difficult life experiences, pain, illness, or imperfections. That they are not also hurting or broken. We often hold ourselves and each other to these impossible standards. Isn’t it strange that we seek out healing or spiritual practice because we have difficulty, feel loss, have pain, and all the other human emotions, yet the moment we enter the path, we believe that is all supposed to vanish forever?

Yet all of us are living human lives, and those include both happiness and hardship, pleasure and pain, joy and grief, fulfillment and loss. We aren’t going to be blissed out and abundant all the time, not even on the spiritual level. Here’s what I forgot: my spiritual practice was to help me face life, to see it clearly. That often helped me make better decisions, but it didn’t make life struggles vanish. And that wasn’t what it was for! It was not to help me pretend and run away. It was not to delete all difficulty, loss, change, emotion, or illness from my life. And it was definitely not to fulfill all of my greed and desires. Rather, it helped me to see them clearly and face them honestly. My spiritual practice helped me to see that life is constantly changing. Even my inner world. Just being still with that brought me peace and the serenity to be OK with never being able to grasp permanence.

I developed my spiritual practice, not because I was healed and no longer suffering. I initially developed it for the opposite reason: because I was in enormous pain, physically and emotionally. My practice didn’t suddenly make me stop having human experiences or emotions. It gave me tools to be with them, to accept myself just as I was, even the pain. That doesn’t mean the pain isn’t painful, or that it doesn’t suck, or that I don’t still kick and scream for it to stop sometimes. It’s just that my practice reminds me that neither the highs or the lows are all there is. And the practice reminds me—over and over—to accept myself however I happen to be in that moment. I just accept that it’s what’s real right now.

I had spent much of my life not allowing myself to just be who I am; to accept myself. My practice began giving me back to me. I sought more information in energy healing for similar reasons. Tools for coping and for understanding myself better. But at some point, I began to believe that my brokenness wasn’t acceptable. I began to believe that if I felt something emotionally or physically painful, that I was doing something wrong, or wasn’t doing something right. Or that if I had a thought that wasn’t perfect peace and love, I was not attracting bad things to my life. Honestly, it sounds a bit silly when I read it. This was not what my original spiritual practice was about. I was just becoming overwhelmed with new age spiritual ideas and information, which seemed to be everywhere.

There is an undercurrent in the healing, spiritual, and “new age” community that we need to “raise our vibration” and that any illness, depression, setback, or difficulty we are experiencing is due to a failure at this, or to “unhealthy thoughts.” Or worse, that we have simply not tried the correct combination of crystals, essential oils, guided meditations, special diets, juice fasts, or exercise programs. Please stop listening to this! If you are sick, or if you are depressed, seek help! Sure, you can also use supportive measures such as nutrition and complementary healing methods, but also go to a qualified medical professional.

There is a strong need to pretend that all is—or even can be—perfect. That we never get sick and if we do, we know exactly how to cure it. That we can all be rich, cured of all health issues, and happy all the time. That is false and it doesn’t work. It is much more complex than that. When we get stuck on the idea that we CAN do all these things all the time, we make ourselves miserable. It is human to fear suffering and pain. And we want to cling to the things that tell us we have control over the suffering of the world; that we can keep it at bay somehow. We want to feel that the world is safe and that we are completely safe within it.

But in reality, the world is both happiness and sorrow, comfort and danger, life and death, vibrancy and decay. It is the way of Life and though we can observe it and participate in it, we can’t stop it. By chasing control and perfection, we will feel defeated each time we fall short. And we will always fall short because control and perfection are like mists in the sunrise. We can chase them forever, but they will always be out of our reach. In my experience, it is far more healing to put aside our attachments to an outcome, surrender, and be with what is. Which takes a lifetime of practice. A tough pill to swallow in an age where we want a quick fix for all things uncomfortable.

I have seen that we are harming ourselves by getting stuck in the belief that positive thoughts and the right diet will make all the unpleasant things go away. We harm each other because we hold each other to these false standards. In recent years, I have seen people lose everything and become homeless because they believed they could manifest whatever they wanted. Worse, I have watched a number of people die in the last year. Suicides in the spiritual community because they didn’t feel they could say that what was really going on in their lives or seek help. And others who have died or become very sick because they waited far too long to seek medical attention because they were afraid to admit that they had pain or illness or that their chronic health condition was worsening instead of being miraculously cured as everyone seemed to expect it would be.

It seems pretty important to hold space for where people are at, including ourselves. When we push away our own experiences or insist that others could stop having those experiences if they just did things the way we tell them to, we are NOT being healing or supportive. We are diminishing the life experience of another. And that prevents them from sharing, reaching out for support, or seeking appropriate help. It also prevents them from reaching out as they carry their burden. When you feel that your experience will be diminished with platitudes and subtle shaming, the thought of reaching out can feel overwhelming. And it leaves people completely isolated, feeling they are doing something wrong, simply because they are struggling, ill, grieving, or otherwise having a human experience.

As I have been dealing with my own health issues this past year or so, I have seen this pattern in myself very clearly. That need to pretend all is well, or that if I just found that one bad thought or low vibe thing in my life, I will get better. But I realize I am making light of my reality, my brokenness, my humanness, minimizing my imperfections. I have allowed myself to accept a different illusion, rather than continue the work of looking clearly and compassionately at reality. I don’t care to do that anymore. I have to return to the inner work that helps me see clearly. I have to drop the work that clouded my judgement and led me on false paths. I have to release the illusions, no matter how comforting they may appear at times.

I hope we can let go of this need for holding ourselves on a pedestal of perfection if we claim a spiritual path or if we are healers. We are hurting ourselves and others by perpetuating it. My original and abiding hope is to see with clarity and to live with compassion and truth. I can not do that by hiding behind a pretense of constant light. I know that the world is not simply the experience of light. It is far richer and more vibrant than that.

Harvest Blessing

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

I offer thanks for the cycles of the harvest today.

With my body, I dance the gratitude of all mankind into the ethers.

I send gratitude to the soil for all that has been birthed for us this growing season,

And I honor her need to rest now and replenish so she can continue to nourish in her fullness.

With my breath, I inhale the memory of all the ancestors who have walked this way before,

I honor them deeply in my bones and my blood, exhaling healing and love.

Hand over my heart, I feel the blood beating through my chest, the water of my own life.

The same water that has coursed through other veins, fallen from other skies, and danced in the waves of other oceans for eternity.

I feel the heat of my body, radiating through my skin, the same heat that shines from the sun, the heat that has warmed us all.

With joy, I feel the connection to all the lives who have shared this soil, this air, this water and this heat with me, and all those yet to come.

Sing and dance with me the Blessings of the harvest! For those who have come, those who are and those who will be. Sing and dance for the Energizing Spirit who Created it all!

Divine Balance

cloud-754365_1280pixabayHere’s a thought I keep having, based on my own inner, gut intuition. I feel the Divine is not one gender or the other, but both. It seems a duality based, humanistic standard to judge the Divine by the boxes of separation we place ourselves into.

To me the Divine feels very Feminine, yet also has very Masculine energy. If we have both (and we do) then how can the Divine only have one or the other? It is Balance Supreme. We humans are the ones who are in a state of separation and dualism. Our ultimate goal seems to be to return to the Oneness, not continue seeking which side is the “right” one.

Feminine and Masculine have truly been out of balance for endless ages. I see and feel it in the Earth and her people. I feel it in myself and in others. We all have this imbalance. I hope we can heal it by seeing the wholeness of all. Loving all of it. If we honor only one, we surely suppress the other. We will come further with healing ourselves if we seek balance and wholeness, which is truly Divine. The Divine cannot be separated at Its core.

Let the Light Flow Through You…Just Like a Child

And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.…”–Jesus in Matthew 18. This doesn’t mean be converted to Christianity, but converted from the ways of the world. Remembering the ways of Spirit, which are within each one of us and all around us.

“Neither shall they say,’See here!’ or, ‘see there!’ for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you..”–Jesus in Luke 17. Some translations say the Kingdom of God is in your midst, which is true as well. It’s not something we have to wait for or search for outside of ourselves, but instead we open ourselves to remember and see our connection to it, within and amongst ourselves. When you recognize the same God within your own heart is also flowing through the heart of everyone and everything (even if they don’t remember), the way you interact changes naturally. All people, all things become honored.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”–Paul in Romans 12. Once we begin to remember and see that God (or whatever name you choose to call the larger energy of the Cosmos) is within us and all things, we know our connection to each other and to everything. You can feel it and that changes how you relate to everything. To me, this teaching speaks to opening your heart and mind to the larger energy (or God) and allowing that to guide you in a constant state of renewal.

Really, we are both what we love and what loves us. We interactively weave the world around us, along with the larger energy that many call God. We get what we give and what we allow ourselves to be open to. We see what we can be open to seeing. And the larger energy of the Cosmos, the river of life, will flow through us to the extent that our hearts and minds can allow.

Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities

Rights Responsiblities2There seems to be a general clamoring, grasping and hungry dissatisfaction that infects so many individual people across the world. It spreads like a virus from one of us to the other. We often urge each other to carry this misplaced longing for more into the streets, the media, our politics, driving each other to anger and, often to acts of hate or at least unkindness and inconsideration.

I feel in my heart that we all hold the light of God inside of us. None are separate from this, as far as I can see, though some chose to hold themselves as separate. In my eyes, if we all carry the light of God, then we all are the same. Kindness and love are for all, without question.

Most everyone seems to feel that they have had rights taken away and many feel inner shame for taking the rights of others, though the latter are usually too defensive to admit it. In the end, it seems that people everywhere are mad as hell about the whole “rights” and “freedom” issue, regardless of their gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, or anything else.

That leads to a whole lot of people pushing against each other. That is not the same thing as loving each other or being kind. It is not the same thing as recognizing the light of God in ourselves and each other. Whenever you hear someone say, “I have the right to fill in the blank“, that is said from a place of victimhood and anger. It is said with indignation.

I don’t deny that there are injustices. They are everywhere. But becoming reactionary certainly doesn’t resolve that. Many of the greatest injustices are created either by those who have forgotten their own inner light or by those who refuse to recognize it.

When you find yourself using your rights to do or say something unkind, even if you really do have the legal right, maybe it is a good time to consider the other person’s rights, even if only for a moment. Or even more importantly, consider the larger ramifications of the thing you are about to say or do. How will it impact you? How will it impact the other person or the people around you? Does it have possible larger consequences for society or for your family? Every action you do and every word you speak ripples out beyond your immediate sphere. It has an effect on others far beyond what you see right in front of you.

The right to worship as we choose does not mean that we are ought to mock those who don’t choose to worship as we do. It means that we are all free to perceive the world, ourselves and God in whatever way makes sense to us, without forcing those views upon others. That implies respect of each other’s views and an allowance that they will differ. If that respect is present, violence has no need to rear its head.

It may be true that we have the right to express ourselves freely, but does that mean we have to use that right to scornfully condemn or mock another? To use shame to control what another does? We can choose simply express who we are respectfully, with love, honor and dignity for ourselves and all others. We can honor the fact that everyone else has the right to express themselves freely, too. Even if we don’t like what or how they express. Otherwise we are only choosing this freedom for ourselves, not for others.

Maybe a law has given you the right to express yourself in a way that allows you to say cruel things to another, to mock them and ridicule them. Maybe you have the legal right to even say that you want them dead, as long as you make it clear that you are joking or you do it within a creative context. Does this mean it is not hurtful or even frightening for that person or group of people? It would be for me, especially if this was done by a large group of people. This is bullying, not love. It does not honor our inner light. This is one person using their “rights” to violate the rights of another.

How many times in the last 20 to 30 years have you witnessed violence erupting because a person or group of people felt they had to push back because their rights were being violated? Particularly their rights of speech, expression or religion. If you look at the larger picture, how many times has it been because of situations just like the one I just described?

A group standing for their right for something can become very indignant and that can lead to irrational decisions. Our egos get in the way when we are stuck in being right and proving it. We lose sight of the bigger picture and of other people. We forget how to be kind. There are often much more important things than our rights. Like the rights of us all. Like simply being loving and patient and gentle with each soul on this planet instead of running with the belief that any of us have the right to trample on any of the others. Even if they trample us first.

Having the belief that we have to kill or be killed leads to us all treating each other like crap, every day. It leads to more death, war and chaos. There is no chance, ever, for light to come in and let something new grow. We have had a long rampage of destruction, hate and oppression in the world. The only way to stop that and turn it to something new is to be different inside ourselves and in the way we treat each other.

We have to start looking for what we can give to each other and move away from the attitude of concerning ourselves with what others may be trying to take from us. We have to look for opportunities to show compassion and to see the soul of our fellow human, rather than find opportunities to close our hearts and turn away. We have to do the best we can to see the fear that drives us, and recognize that it’s the same fear that drives our fellow human as well. We are not different inside, though we may live our lives in different ways.

We will not all get to the place where we can honor each other’s inner light at once. Try not to concern yourself too much with those who aren’t there yet. That puts you back in the mindset of believing someone else needs to change and the whole cycle starts again. Change yourself and your behaviors. Others will follow. This may be our greatest responsibility to ourselves and to each other. Rights don’t work very well or last very long without honoring that.