Sunday, August 20, 2017
This week I've been mulling over the kinds of stories we tell in our culture. I've noticed a trend, and I think it says a lot about us.
The classic tales of the past often see our hero (or heroine) begin in their home. They are then forced by circumstances to leave and travel out into the greater world. They encounter both allies and obstacles. At some point they find power either in an object, an ability, or a piece of knowledge. They then return home to set things right and settle back into their community. This is not all tales, but it is the template for many of them. The uniting factor is the return home.
Modern tales often concern people's struggle to get out and escape from their origins to make it big in the larger world. These tales don't focus on the return home or to community, only the exit strategy. The change here is of course the belief in the rugged individual, and exceptional qualities that our would be heroes possess. In the old stories the return revitalizes the community and lifts them up and the hero becomes enmeshed in the continuity of society.
As we look around our world the state of many of our communities are in disarray. No matter where we live there is always "that part of town" or county where you steer clear if you are smart. Every city has the place where the homeless gather, where the junkies hide out, where the working girls ply their trade, and the place where the gangs run the streets. It's no wonder that so many of our stories focus on making it out and making it big. I wonder though that in making that the focus of our stories if we haven't ensured that those dark places will continue to thrive and consume those of us not lucky enough to make it out. Some places are predatory, they feed on the hopes and dreams of people consuming them a bit day by day. It is natural to want to run from the lions, but not many will ever out run them.
In escaping we save ourselves, but lose our community. I wonder if the stories changed again back to themes of returning home to save it if our attitude would change. If the focus became less on our heroes and more on the relationships that drove them on and back to where they began would that change society? It is easy for me to write this, I've been blessed in my point of origin. Still I see the damage that occurs when the individual is taken out of community. That damage works both ways, the loss of emotional support to the individual, and the loss of skills, drive, and care taking to the community.
So why am I telling you this? Well there is so much pressure to be a personal success, to be an individual. There is quite a bit less on being a good community member. As I observe the events of the world I become more convinced that our tunnel vision concerning our lives as individuals is at the root of many problems. When our communities break down that affects our families, and when our families break down it affects each person. That effect is then recycled back into our community creating deeper fissures. Then the idea of being on your own becomes more than an idea, it becomes the shared reality. When people are on their own they are much easier to manage and control by larger societal forces. It is also easier to sell them on half truths, or to use scapegoats. If you don't have connections with the "other" it is easy to believe what you are told about them.
I don't have answers. I work with individuals or very small groups. I'm not a big social person. I tend to be wary of communities as I have been for most of my life a convenient scapegoat. I do however see the need for community, and the damage the lack of it creates. So I start small trying to build relationships a bit at a time. I try to create value where I am, because there is very little in this world that cannot be solved by people coming together. We may have to go out into the world and fight our dragons, but eventually we all long to come home. For you I wish that the road blesses you with good companions and that you find a way to bring what you have gained on your travels back to your point of origin to share. Communities outlive individuals, skills like stories can be passed down. So I hope your story brings you safely home.
Peace and Blessings,
Sunday, August 13, 2017
I hope you've had a blessed week. I'm still reintegrating into my life from the peak experiences on my travels. I'm doing my best to bring those insights into my daily existence and embody them. An old saying goes, "Enlightenment is not found on the mountaintop, but rather in the marketplace." Meaning, it is easy to be all grand and wise when you're all alone in your meditation hut, but society is where the test of your training will be.
Unlike many people on vacation I bought very little on my trip. The little figurine above was one of the exceptions. She was one of several in a gallery my friend Jodi and I walked into. For some reason when we're together we shop. We just find the coolest things when we go anywhere. The little statuette is titled 'Self Blessing'. I bought her as a reminder to be good to myself. Too often I am rushing about getting things done, using my talents to help others, while neglecting to channel my own energies in service to my needs. Taking time to renew my own resources has been viewed as selfish or indulgent. Time away from the rush and my normal environment has shown me that it is a necessity.
When I left on my trip I was in pain. I was exhausted. I was pretty much done with people. I had nothing left to give. This was entirely my fault. I let myself get pushed into that pattern. Now that I have returned I am pushing back. So even if it is just a minute I am taking the time to bless myself. I am putting myself first in prayers for that moment. I had forgotten there was a difference between being of service and being a servant. So now I am committed to giving myself a good turn when I can. If I don't treat myself well how can I expect anyone else to?
Why am I telling you this? Well, self care can be hard to come by in our society of productivity and the competing demands of multitasking. A quiet moment has been made into a luxury that we best not take because we've been told we're replaceable. I say fuck that. Yes we have obligations, and we should honor them. However, never confuse another person's comfort with their needs. We cannot live up to everyone's expectations, and shortchanging our health and sanity to try is foolish. So I suggest you begin blessing yourself each day, maybe more than once. Say no to what you have to in order to really take care of yourself. Will you always be able to do that, probably not, but I am quite sure you don't avail yourself of your personal veto power anywhere near often enough. In the meantime, bless yourself before you wreck yourself on the rack of societal expectations.
Peace and Blessings,
Sunday, August 6, 2017
The best laid plans and so on and so forth. All my plans used to share one trait, they never worked. As I reintegrate into my daily life I'm having to let go once more of how I thought things should run. Still I have come back to a more centered view of plans laid or unlaid.
For many years I made plans, and then life came through and destroyed them all. The one piece that I needed as a linchpin all of the sudden would evaporate so I'd go on to Plan B. Plan C and D were shortly to follow. I got through most of the alphabet when I decided to stop making plans. I drifted. There was much less disappointment, but I also didn't really get anywhere. I would say I almost became afraid to hope for anything that I wanted since all my plans to move towards it always fell apart. I mostly spent my time learning during the plan free era. In some respects it was a very useful time. If my plans had worked out I never would have learned all the skills I employ now, both in my day to day life and in my chosen professions.
Eventually you have to choose a direction or have it chosen for you. I've learned it is better to choose consciously whenever possible. At least that way you have a vote (even if Fate overrules you). So I tried making more flexible plans, and they were less abysmal failures. They weren't total successes, but some strides were made, they just seemed to be at a glacial pace. Two steps forward, and one step back is a dance I have become familiar with.
In the past year or two, my style has shifted yet again. Plans, even flexible ones, seem to be too structured for the chaotic happenstance in which the world operates. Now I don't make plans, I plant seeds. I have goals, I take an action here and there. Planting the intent wherever I find myself. Some of those seeds will never germinate, some won't germinate for a long time. Some shockingly planted years ago will all sprout up at once. Rather than trying to be a king over my life I have attempted instead to be a gardener. I tend the seeds of possibilities as they sprout. With this approach I can be more flexible and responsive to the world around me, partnering with opportunities when they appear rather than trying to find that one perfect set of circumstances to move forward. It is a strategy that involves a lot of letting go, and a lot of trust. I'm not saying it is a perfect strategy, but in the past few months I have seen amazing things happen with very small efforts. Rather than pouring enormous amounts of energy into bending the world, I am simply cultivating the bit of earth where I find myself.
So why am I telling you this? Well many of you are in the process of manifesting the life of your dreams. That's all well and good, but ask yourself if are you approaching it with a rigidity of mind. Are you waiting for the perfect variables to make your move? I'm all for picking your moment, but any time we find ourselves in will have both challenges and opportunities. Plans fail when they don't take into account the changing tides of life around us. What if instead of trying to control the world we planted the seeds of what we love where we are? What if we concentrated on tending the seeds that sprouted? What if we paid attention to which seeds sprouted and under what conditions, so that we became better cultivators of the gardens of our life? When we plant a seed we don't keep digging it back up to see if it is growing, we have to let go and trust that life will unfold. So I would ask that in the coming months you plant a few seeds and trust that some of them will germinate in their own time.
Peace and Blessings,
Sunday, July 30, 2017
I hope you have been enjoying the month of July. For me it has been eventful. My trip home from the Monroe Institute had as many turns as my trek through my inner psyche while I was there. Each time I have gone I have meandered a bit before returning home. It helps to soften my re-entry.
So by way of Baltimore, Mechanicsburg, Utica, and Columbus, I slowly made my sojourn back to day to day life. I visited old friends in new spaces. I held ceremony with new people. I laid the groundwork for future travels and opportunities. In each place I tried to be fully there, not looking too far ahead or behind. It is difficult when you pack several trips into one to center yourself where you happen to be. I just try remind myself that when I look back I'll be wishing I was there again. I had minimal social media and I tried to stay off the phone once I arrived at each destination. My mind did stray to absent friends, those that I really wanted to share the story of my travels with as I had in the past. The return through Ohio brought that into sharper focus, as I was going through a friend's stone collection to help their wife sort through it. The picture above was an unexpected find, gem grade green tourmaline in quartz. This was something I never knew my friend had; I found many unique pieces in my short stay there.
When we lose people in life we often wonder if we honored the time we had together. Maybe we have regrets, and for those of us who are fortunate we simply miss them. It's funny how we sometimes only understand a relationship in the rearview mirror of memory. Another friend I often thought was kind of spacey was simply experiencing chemo brain as she had cancer for most of the years I knew her. It isn't just relationships we see better in retrospect, it is our journeys. That is why the return home is vital. It gives us a chance to think on where we began as we head back towards it. I choose to take the long way round so that I may come to a bit of understanding before I settle back into the familiar.
So why am I telling you this? Well, often we rush through our experiences, so focused on getting there and back that we don't stop to ponder and reflect. We water down our interactions by not being fully present, playing on our phones while our friends and family wait for our reply. The siren song of 'what's next' can be irresistible, and yet it keeps us from truly living. We cannot live anywhere, but in the moment we are inhabiting.
As I rode home I noticed the roads ahead became like mirrors in the distance. I am puzzled how asphalt can turn into a reflection. How can the road reflect the sky? I knew this observation was somehow profound, and I also knew I would have missed it if I had spent the whole trip back on my phone (I have a headset I'm not suicidal). In the coming weeks, I suggest you take some time to be alone with your thoughts. Think about where you have just been before moving ahead into where you are going. Be present with your loved ones, because time is precious, and while media can wait, people cannot. If you miss ones that have gone on, take heart. You'll meet again. You're just taking the long way round.
Peace and Blessings,
Sunday, July 23, 2017
Here I am in lovely Baltimore amidst old friends after making several new ones this past week in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My experience at the Monroe Institute is still so fresh in my mind I don't know that I can really interpret it fully. I do know that it was the right choice for me in this time.
Guidelines was the program I attended. It is focused on opening more deeply to our guidance. This time back at the institute I experienced more during exercises. I felt as if I could really open my mind and my eyes and see images. I did see them clearly even if I didn't understand what they meant. I call this progress.
Now I sit in the dining room of my dear friend Sherry Tuegel after a day of joint teaching. We come from different traditions and yet our ways flowed into each other creating a deep synergy. It is within the past year that I feel I really am relaxing into the role of teacher. Knowledge needs a living mind or else it dies. Teaching is way of wisdom for it grants knowledge a kind of immortality passing from mind to mind, and with each passing also a bit of the teacher moves on into the student. It is heartening to see the wisdom that I have treasured light up the eyes of another.
Today Sherry presented as part of her section of our class, eye gazing. How often do we look directly into the eyes of another? How often do our eyes slide over a person refusing to see them? How often are we seen? I remember years ago at an art fair I was shocked that one particular artist 'saw' me. He looked right into me and I was recognized. This frightened me. For many years, I had protected myself by being unseen or mis/seen. All the veils I had cast upon myself were ripped away in their gaze. It is a startling thing to be seen.
Most times when we are seen by others they merely see a reflection of themselves or some aspect. If they are generally at peace they will see their own good reflected back at them. If they are unhappy with themselves they will see what they hate about themselves in us. The illusion is that they think it is us that they find repulsive. In actuality, it is themselves they cannot bear to look at. To gaze deeply into another is to also to be gazed deeply into. This is not comfortable for many. I'll be honest I felt sorry for whomever drew me to gaze into. People tell me I shape shift. My eyes have done funny things in the past. Once I glamoured them and someone looking at me saw me as if my eyes had gone all black with no whites or iris. It only lasted a moment, and I have never been able to recreate that effect (I think spirit just wanted to show me it was possible). At other times people have said that my eyes seem to look through them into their soul, and still others have seen their deepest fears reflected back at them. I take no credit for that, I only reflect the energy that people bring.
After today's exercise my gazing partner told me they saw my eyes change. The round pupil became a slit like the eye of a cat, or a jaguar. Now I do have a spiritual relationship to the black jaguar. He has been a guardian, friend, and giver of sound advice(sometimes I even follow it). I felt honored that the jaguar would manifest visually through my eyes. It also made a lot of sense of why some people could never meet my gaze, particularly if they'd been up to no good.
So why am I telling you all this? Well they say eyes are the window to the soul. After a week of exercising the visionary ability I am pondering the nature of seeing and being seen. So many people come to me who want to open their third eye and become a seer. I often say, "It's $50 to open your third eye...it's $500 to close it. So basically I'll be making $550 today." People want the benefits of perfect vision, but they don't want to look too deeply at things. If they do they begin to see the cracks in the facade of the world. How can we open our third eye if we refuse to really look with our physical eyes? How can we learn to see with spiritual sight, if we cannot even look at one another? Use your eyes, observe, really see what you are looking at. Don't chase fantastical visions, but rather come awake to what is already before you. You might be surprised at what your eyes can see.
Peace and Blessings,
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Yes it is an early post this week, as I will soon be in the wind. My long awaited trip to the Monroe Institute is finally upon me and I can hardly believe it. I've been in a flurry of activity to get ready and fitting last minute clients in before I am unreachable.
As I was packing up at the office yesterday I put on an album I hadn't listened to in quite some time. It was sort of a Celtic tribute album that an artist had done to honor their Scottish ancestry. Years ago I had made a mix tape of the album to play in my car on the way back and forth to school. (Yes a mix tape, I know, so ancient). There was one particular song that always struck me as very sad, and at the time I was struggling with my own melancholy. To this day I remember one of the main lyrics, "Some are born to sorrow, some are born to pain, some are born to laughter and joy. We were born to live again." Of course being a depressive pity whore at the time I figured it meant some were just fated to be born to sorrow. I wish I could tell you I snapped out of that phase within in a season but it has taken almost two decades and sometimes I still spar with the shadows of the "poor me" identity. These days it doesn't stay around too long, but it still visits.
Imagine my surprise when as I was listening to this particular song and I heard the actual lyric. "Some are born through sorrow, some are born through pain, some are born through laughter and joy. We were born to live again." For years I had misheard the word through as to. That one word changes the entire meaning. Instead of something we are born to, we are born through experiences. For some of us our becoming is through sorrow and pain, for others they are wakened by laughter and joy. These are the experiences that lead us deeper into ourselves, not some rigid destiny that we just have to endure.
The power of just one word to change the entire meaning of a song is simply amazing. What's even more amazing is the shift in perspective that had to occur to allow my filters to even hear the actual word being sung. (If indeed that is the actual word, maybe I'm still not hearing the right lyrics). This really hammers home the point that our perspective and preconceived notions have a very strong influence over our experiences, even to the point of altering our sensory perception. For me personally, it was a sign of growth.
So why am I telling you this? Well perhaps you are filtering out the positive messages in the world around you. Maybe your pre-existing bias is coloring your senses. Now this happens to us all, but it can be more or less extreme. If you find yourself in the grip of powerful beliefs and emotions they will act as a gatekeeper for the senses, continuing to reinforce the status quo. If you're happy with that then no worries just go back to your lives. If you are unsatisfied you are going to have to do some work to deprogram yourself. Meditation is one of the best tools you have to descramble those filters. We all think that our thoughts about ourselves must be true, because we thought them. However our self image is rarely founded on logic since most of it was formed in the earliest stages of our lives, long before we ever gave reason a chance. So this week pay attention to your thoughts, start to wonder what they might be keeping you from sensing. Remember a single word misheard can change everything.
Peace and Blessings,
Sunday, July 9, 2017
I hope you had a good week. The summer is passing and this time soon after the solstice when the light is not quite yet noticeably less always brings a sense of melancholy. This year especially I have been in love with the light. I have noticed it in all its colors and splendor. This season though like all seasons is part of a larger wheel and it is turning.
Summer it seems brings with it nostalgia for days gone by. As time marches on for the personal clock my life it is in this season I think of my youth the most. For me it is not so much a longing to be there again, but regret for the missed opportunities. My youth while mostly untroubled (particularly in comparison to a majority of souls on our planet) was not a happy one. I suffered a profound sense of isolation and loneliness. It is only within the past few years that I have built any decent relationships with people. My life did not follow the pattern that most people's lives follow. Hiding my differences had me coming to myself much later. Sometimes I think that I was simply more aware of the illusory nature of the self that we present. So many of us become our roles completely and we live under the delusion that they are the real us.
It is no easy task to find our place in this world. Blessed are those who come to themselves early and stay true. Lately I have noticed that many of the goals I set forth in the past few years have come to pass, and yet I feel largely the same. Don't get me wrong I am grateful that things have been working out well as of late. As I strive though I have to ask myself if I am doing it because it excites me or because I think it will change me into who I think I should be. I mean exactly when did being Thomas Mooneagle become not good enough? The pattern of perfectionism continues to unfold for me and I have to work through it, or is that just another form of the delusion? Perhaps it is navel gazing. Certainly previous generations would look at it as such. They were more focused on action, but if action serves no deeper purpose why act at all?
One of the most helpful things I heard a teacher say was about their own mentor. The Grandmaster I learned Tai Chi from was quite a character, and he loved to share the occasional anecdote about his teacher, a living Taoist Master. (Except technically now he is a dead Taoist Master). He told us one time as we were sitting in his office after practice that his teacher came to him crying and said, "Why am I so fucked up?" So when I am holding myself to impossible standards and feel like a complete failure I try to remember this story. If the Taoist Master felt like a mess odds are I'm due to feel like one too. Which is great because so often I do feel like a mess. I'm not sure it is something you get beyond, or if it is something you just learn to accept and honor.
Our lives are composed of patterns, both large and small. Sometimes the tiniest motion can have larger consequences. Knowing what patterns we are running in the calculations of our lives is key if we wish to stop living the same life over and over again. We tend to run patterns in the same time or place we first encountered them, so things like nostalgia and even regret can be useful markers if we pay attention.
So why am I telling you this? Well, while we can't escape patterns, we should be more mindful of which ones we allow to shape us. If we find ourselves repeating the same mistakes, or the same heavy thoughts and feelings then it is time to take action. Sometimes a small movement is enough to shake the pattern loose or bring it into sharper focus. So this week as the summer skies fill with the warm light take some time to reflect upon where you've been, where you are, and if you are going in the direction you desire.
Peace and Blessings,