Where Does Redemption Fit In?

I am currently participating in the 21-day meditation experience offered on http://www.chopracenter.com titled “Become What You Believe.” An online journal is provided and I find it most useful in centering my mind and heart for the day. As I journaled today, my path away from self-judgement became clearer to me. Having been a practicing Christian (both Catholic and Protestant), the idea of redemption was central to my beliefs. I was taught and I embraced the belief that I was born in sin, separated from God, and that I had to be redeemed.

As I journaled this morning that word “redeemed” seemed to stand out on the page. The word “deem” means to regard or consider something in a specific way. The times I have heard it used, it takes on an air of authority or weight that takes its meaning beyond thinking.  For example, the principal deemed it necessary to discipline the students.

So, in religion I was taught that Jesus came to redeem me from my sin. mmm….so, he came to change the way my status had been regarded or considered by others. He deemed me worthy of God’s love and even told his followers that we are all One with God just as Jesus himself is One with God. Not separate, One. So, what I needed to be redeemed from was the belief system that taught me I was separate, a sinner, and that I had to gain God’s favor. Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ, re-deemed me.  I love that!!

What I experience day-to-day at this point in my life is this: when I am uncomfortable with an aspect of my behavior, I turn within to the Oneness that I Am. As I rest in the peace of my Soul, I am able to see that my behavior was uncomfortable because an old habit resurfaced or I am in need of healing or I am being totally human. Yep. My divinity does not always shine through my humanity because, as is so often said, I am a work in progress. I do not always fully live from the non-duality I believe. At the same time, when I look back as I did this morning, the difference in how I am results in a “Wahoo!” moment. I am riding this zipline called life and I laugh way more than I cry these days!

I love you all for you are a part of me. We are One because the Divine cannot be divided. There is only Wholeness in all of It’s facets, like a diamond shining in the Light of Love.

Peace, Aum Shanti.

Spiritual Power

Spiritual Power is not about control. It is about letting go, surrendering control, and unfolding into more and more expansive consciousness. The most powerful spiritual beings I have encountered are gentle Souls who move through the world with love and compassion toward themselves and others. There is a quiet strength that allows others to feel safe in their presence. This in itself is a most powerful gift. When I feel safe, I am open to learn, heal, expand.

Spiritual power manifests in many ways both subtle and obvious. I watched my beloved teacher, Joseph, grow taller as a woman verbally confronted him and tried to engage him in an argument. He listened with intense stillness. When he spoke, he spoke quietly but firmly and it was obvious he was coming from a place of authority in the situation and from an an inner space of clarity and power. The expression on her face changed as she actually began to hear him and her need to create drama dissipated. She accepted his response and seemed surprised by her own reaction. She walked away and respected the boundaries he had set. I was awed because I could feel the energy exchange and it was not in the least subtle. My Joseph was a warrior protecting the presence of his students in that place and he never raised his voice or changed his loving expression. He just knew his Truth and spoke it. Powerful.

That was my first lesson in the source of true spiritual power. It emanates from within, from the Soul of the Being. The power of love, compassion, truth, and light.

Aum shanti.

Tread Lightly

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

The phrase “Tread lightly” is often intended as a warning in our culture but read the above quote again. Perhaps it is better taken as an invitation to walk with respect and love, literally for the planet that gives you life and sustenance, figuratively for all those you share life with on this planet.

For those of you who may not know, Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who lives in exile. His teachings on mindful, compassionate living are known internationally. He has had a profound influence on my personal journey through his books and recorded teachings. I lovingly invite you to search him out and be blessed by his simple, yet profound, teachings.

May this day unfold in love, peace, and compassion and may this precious, loving moment give birth to the next.

Namaste.

Crazy Town

Have you ever been to Crazy Town?

I suppose there are as many definitions of Crazy Town as there are people who live or visit there. My son brought this awareness to his sister and myself not so long ago by responding to something by saying “Well, now you’re just going to Crazy Town! Is that where you want to be?”

Crazy Town exists in our heads, in our thoughts. Given enough energy and validity, Crazy Town can begin to take form in this reality however. I have witnessed a few instances where people brought Crazy Town to life in their homes or jobs. It is best left and dealt with at the thought level and not a place I prefer to visit at all if I can help it.

Crazy Town looms on the horizon when I am distracted from True Self, when I allow myself to fall into old thought patterns or beliefs. My mind begins to have a heyday as it jumps into circular thinking, sucking up anxiety and fear along the way. When I was a young woman, this was a rather common pattern in my life and the people in my life went there as often as I did so the journey was reinforced more often than not. Attending my first bible study-prayer group in my late twenties began to turn the tide. People were talking about love, peace, and gratitude in ways that were foreign to me at the time. My awareness heightened and going into the silence, meditating and being still began to call to my Soul. I discovered the contemplative side of my nature and True Self began to unfold within.

Crazy Town became a place that disrupted my peace and I sought the awareness and understanding to seek other paths and destinations, other ways to interpret life and to think about what I was experiencing. I now know what seems like the truth is often beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors that are learned and that actually are showing me who I am NOT. When I am distracted from the peace and oneness that I Am, my mind wants to circle with the ideas and opinions that others are spouting. I guess it feels familiar or it is just something for the monkey mind to do. As soon as I feel tension in my solar plexus or tightness in my jaw, I know I need to be more present, more aware of what I am experiencing. My Soul is calling me to that awareness because I am about to venture out onto that road to Crazy Town.

I don’t like Crazy Town. It is exhausting and counter-productive to spend any time there at all. So, I return to the silence, even if it is for three slow breaths as I sit in my car. I turn my awareness into the sweetness of my Soul and I remember that I Am One with All That Is. Most of the time, I can shake my head and laugh quietly for a moment thinking, “Catherine Ann, you almost went to Crazy Town! That is so not where you want to be!”

If you find yourself in Crazy Town, be gentle with yourself as you find your way back to the peace and joy of your Soul. Frustration and judgement are not helpful in your return journey. Just come home, precious one, and rest. Then spend time doing something that brings love and laughter to your heart and mind. Remind yourself that enlightenment is an unfolding, an experience of ongoing discovery, understanding and awareness.

May we abide in the peace of our Soul. May we immerse ourselves in love and light. May Crazy Town be a distant memory of a life once lived before we remembered who we are.

I love you. I appreciate your presence, your love and your light. Namaste.

Body Messages

One of the many gifts of practicing yoga is heightened body awareness, a clearer and deeper communication in the body-mind. The messages from the body can be subtle, discerned primarily through intuition. Some are very specific. Different emotional energies “live” in specific areas of the body. I will give a few specific examples and invite you to explore more information on this topic.

The chakra or energy center system of yoga and Ayurveda are very helpful in learning to understand where and how energy moves in the physical body. The lower three chakras are at the base of the spine, in the center of the lower abdomen, and behind the naval. These centers contain what we call the survival energies:  stability, relationships/community, sense of self/will. For example, it is not unusual to experience discomfort or pain in your lower back, just below the waist, when you are fearful or having a specific crisis in your finances. Financial issues challenge our sense of security in our world.

About nine months ago, while visiting my holistic physician for a tune-up, we talked about the tightness on the right side of my neck. After muscle testing me, he explained that it was a relationship issue with a female friend (in this instance, the side of the neck reveals whether the friend is male or female). He then asked me if I was unhappy with a friend’s decisions and choices recently. Was I being stiff-necked or stubborn about her choices? I had to think for a moment and, sure enough, I felt a dear friend had put herself at risk and was suffering as a result. As I forgave her for her choices and myself for judging her, my neck began to release.

This next example makes me laugh even though, at the time of this experience, it added to my emotional and physical suffering. I was in the 25th year of my marriage when it failed. The grief and sadness were extremely intense of course. Divorce is never easy and, in the middle of it all, I developed hemorrhoids! As the months unfolded, I began to see a pattern. Every time I felt threatened, the condition flared. Yep, he was being a real pain in the ass! My body could not have sent me a clearer message that I needed to adjust my thinking and my perception of what was going on. I worked with a therapist and my doctor, stuck with my yoga and meditation practice, and spent time with loving friends having fun. The pattern did eventually fade away. The only time the condition returns is when I perceive someone as a threat and internalize their behavior in some way. My body lets me know right away and I respond quickly to shift my awareness. 99% of the time, my body calms down within a few hours. There are times, to be honest, when I am my own pain in the ass and there is nothing quite like a flaming hemorrhoid to get my attention!

What is your body trying to show you today? Take some time to feel, listen, and perceive its messages. When you do, please take care to do so with the intention of gaining information and understanding. Release all judgement so that you learn to reset attitudes or perceptions and to support your body in releasing tightness or illness. This is an opportunity for healing and expanded awareness. Judgement only hinders the process. Love yourself as your body becomes a source of information in your journey of enlightenment.

Aum Ritam Namah:  My desires and intentions are aligned with the Universe, the Divine.

Namaste.