Words help us to communicate, express and create. We can create poems and stories from them, but we also create our view and experience with them.
What words do you use regularly? Can you see how they are connected to how you feel? What if you changed your words or told a different story? How would your life change?
When I began paying more attention to the words I use, I realized that I used "but" a lot. As in, "I think that's a good idea, but..." It showed me that I have a tendency to go to the negative. It also showed me that I want to see both sides, which isn't a bad thing. What would happen if I tried a different way of saying or writing my thoughts? What if I used "and" many times so I could bring into view more possibilities both positive and negative?
Though I’ve spent years paying attention to words and language, it’s only in the past half dozen or so years that I’ve looked deeply into the words I use on a regular basis. It’s a great way to get to know yourself better. It can help you consciously create the life you actually want to live.
Words are powerful and they are magic. The more conscious we are of the ones we use and how we use them, the better our lives will be. And I believe the better our world will be.
I think a lot of people have been knocked off center since the U.S. election. Some of my friends have been moving through the stages of grief. Disappointment, more than grief, is what I’ve been feeling. I’ve been trying to understand their grief as well as the feelings of those who voted for Trump. It’s a very confusing time.
My life has been off kilter for the past two months for other reasons, a DCIS diagnosis which is a kind of precancer in my breast. There have been moments of anger, sadness, fear as well as determination and reconfiguration.
Maybe we need to be thrown off center in order to gain a new perspective. As our life is reordered and/or recreated by this new way of seeing, we begin to realize that perhaps there is a new center to be had. Being off kilter may be exactly what we need, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. I’m beginning to see how this diagnosis is a gift. I see my life differently and am much clearer about what I want now. Maybe the turnout of this election is a gift as well.
It’s really a matter of perspective. Center is always in the middle of our higher self or the Divine, but that may feel like a different place in relation to our lives as we shift and change. Our becoming shifts our center of being. We need only to remember that our center is peace. Find that and we are home again.
The moon illuminates the night. Its glow softens what we see in the dark.
The moon’s light moves me to contemplate those shadows that reside in my heart and mind. Those places that I’d forgotten about are brought to the fore. It’s almost as if the moon’s gravitational pull draws them up from deep within my subconscious and from beneath the still waters of my heart. The tide shifts and sifts through what lies beneath the sand. In the moon’s gentle light, it is easier to look at what may traumatize us in the sun’s harsh rays.
In the night our thoughts can take us to dark places, but it has been viewing those dark places in the bright light of day that has scared us the most lately. Our collective shadow has been rising and Trump has tapped into it. He has ridden its ascent all the way to the White House. No matter what “side” you believe yourself to be on, understand that your shadow is showing. Our hidden hopes and dreams as well as our fears are now baking in the sun. Will we claim them or keep projecting them onto the new savior/devil? Will we let Trump hold all the cards?
Do you know what a savior/devil really is? It’s that crazy trickster figure that stirs things up. Well, we are certainly stirred up. What will we make of it? Can we forget Trump for just a moment and talk to one another? Can we truly listen to one another and finally see each other as fellow humans and not stereotypes? What was hidden rose so we could heal it. Will we take this opportunity? Will you sit down with family and neighbors and begin to understand where they are coming from?
Tonight I’ll take a moment to contemplate in the moonlight what it is I want in my life and in the world. I’ll continue to let those darklings rise so I can view them in the moon’s cleansing light. I won’t let them sink as the moon wanes. I’ll embrace them and as the sun rises, know them as myself. And then I want to have some meaningful conversations.
All must come through me to live in the light.
~ On the back of an Our Lady of the Underground medal
Lately, I've been making friends with the dark. A number of years ago it was fire that was my teacher, and I came to embrace its transformative power. These past few months of dealing with a cancer scare (stage 0) felt like the fire had returned to continue my transformation. But now I believe it is the dark that has begun to open my eyes. You see a diagnosis like this one leaves you in a dark uncertainty. In the past, fire urged me to focus on what I truly want, but I think this is a different teacher. This is the kind of teacher that can help you see the whole picture, not just what you want to see. The dark opens you to that which lives in its recesses.
I knew I wasn't complete with my transformation and prayed for a breather from fire. It had been a good teacher, but I was burnt out by its tactics. I embraced fire. Was I ready to embrace the dark? I'd never been a fan of uncertainty. I'm an avoider and I had even been afraid of the dark as a child. Many of us were since our whole culture has equated darkness with bad and even evil. What does this situation have to teach me? Can I learn to live with uncertainty? Can I get comfortable with the dark? Am I ready to receive its gifts?
Now it's time to live these questions. The dark asks you to slow down, live in spaciousness and go within. As we head towards the Winter Solstice, the nights grow longer, inviting us to rest in the dark. I trust that this dark will help me see more clearly so that I may learn to live in the light.
In order to float on water you need to trust. I never really learned to do this. In fact, I seem to have always had trust issues. The person I trusted the least was myself. It's probably why I became a Priestess of Ma'at, the goddess of harmony, balance and justice. It's what I'm working on in this life.
Last week I had an MRI done. I had my breasts imaged because they saw an abnormality in the right one. I laid face down on an elevated contraption with two holes, one for each breast and had to remain completely still for 25 minutes while in a a tight tube that made loud noises. It was uncomfortable to say the least. You just want it to be over. I wanted all the crazy 0 stage cancer? over with.
To get through that test I distracted myself, but then I started tell myself I trust Spirit. I trust this One Life to take care of me no matter what. Soon something shifted and I relaxed...as much as I could under the circumstances. After months of tests and stress, I began to just trust all of it. It's okay. I'm okay. This life that always seemed so scary, at least in that moment, didn't feel that way anymore.
Now, I still have some moments of distrust, and that's okay. What I learned from Ma'at years ago is that balance isn't static. We're never going to be perfectly perfect. That's the nature of being human and living life on Earth. But something is different. This morning, during meditation I focused on feeling in harmony with life. I did this after a prayer of surrender in which I said I trust Spirit. Right after that I listened to a Dharma talk by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in which he said, "If there is no trust, there is no harmony". That summed it all up. My work towards trusting the Universe and walking in harmony was right there in that simple sentence.
I think these words speak to what's going on in the world right now, too. The disharmony we seem to be experiencing is because we don't trust ourselves, one another, the government, the police...on and on. If we want harmony, we need to learn to trust again. We need to lean on Spirit, the waters of life and let It buoy us. We need to lean on one another and know we are all connected. We need to lean on our own hearts and souls and know that is the same as leaning on Spirit.
Life takes us down interesting paths and we choose to walk alone or with support systems. And even when the road feels deserted and it's only our voice that echoes off the hills in the distance, we are not alone. The echo is wisdom when it comes back to us and we are Spirit in disguise.
I have a habit of slouching. It's not conducive to building confidence or clear thinking. In fact, it may be what makes me feel tired. The slouch isn't always a product of my tiredness, it may be the cause. When I sit up straight, I immediately feel energized. I've been saying for years that it doesn't always start in the mind and that the body seems to influence our thoughts. I probably got it from the philosopher and psychologist William James. His theory may now be being proven.
Amy Cuddy is one researcher into this mind-body feedback loop. Her book, Presence has got me practicing sitting up more and rethinking how I work. Really, it's got me thinking about how I live and move in the world.
Her research has come into question, but she also sites the research of others in her book. I'm not sure if all of the research is problematic. But I do know that when I sit up, I feel better. Perhaps I feel better because I am able to bring in more oxygen. Perhaps a shift in perspective helps. Maybe it's the placebo effect. Whatever it is, her book got me thinking even more about how my perceptions and expressions of myself play a role in my success or lack of it.
All this to say that if you're having trouble writing or doing any kind of work in the world, take a look at how you hold your body, check out your thoughts and see if your environment is playing a role. Life is lived from the inside out and from the outside in. Open your mind and your body to new ways and see what happens.
Learning to Live