Necessity, Not Luxury

Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

~Dalai Lama, The spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, 1391-1474

From the last blog entry: We want to reach out to others who are experiencing loss… This intention, wrapped in love and compassion, aligns with Source and seeks oneness with others…. but what do we say?  What words would be meaningful?  What is helpful rather than routine?  What would the experts say? These demands find us faced with a different loss.

Compassion takes on many faces. Traditionally, cards, poets’ words, inspirational books, shared meals, transportation/home services, monetary gifts or in-kind services from non-profit organizations or local charities, and fundraisers are fantastic ways to connect and make life easier and more positive for those suffering from any kind of loss. This is compassion connected with “doing” and is extremely helpful and appreciated.

Yet compassion can touch a deeper place in our “being” when we allow it, the place of self-compassion. At this level, we see ourselves in the place of those suffering. The universal gifts of love, stability, peace, and mindfulness that begin in Source come to us. We forget ourselves and open our hearts. We become the ones who suffer. Through these feelings, we discover yet a more extensive wellspring of connection. On an emotional level, we want to ease their suffering and pain by taking it on ourselves. Driven by empathy, love, and raw courage, we bind with them. We offer our presence and listen. We express words that we would want to hear. Our actions demonstrate understanding.

For some of us, this depth of connection may seem scary, impossible, or dream-like. Yet, when we know ourselves well enough, we can bind in this vital way. Considerations: having the emotional strength to take on another’s pain and suffering, being mindful of circumstances and overriding fear, and letting go of resistance to the present moment. The mental discourse of discovery can be found only through setting aside time, opening hearts, and working through what we find.

Without thorough inner study, we’d just be guessing at what we have to offer in the compassion department. When our inquiring minds need to know what to say about loss, it is essential to have the confidence of inner knowing. Introspection confirms if or how we need to change. How inspiring to know that we have nourished enough happiness, joy, and peace within so that we can share these qualities. Understanding and engendering love for self is the foundation for the quality and quantity of compassion that we can offer to others.

The following few paragraphs are paraphrased from “Being Love,” with Thich Nhat Hanh, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1o1TDuXf-8.  In the quiet moments, as we begin to examine the thoughts, actions and environments that have shaped us, it may be helpful to keep a journal.

Before we can offer love and compassion to others, we first need to love and feel compassion for ourselves. Turning inward, we listen to the calls of our body, feelings, and perceptions. Without judgment, we fully accept them as they are.

Buddhism offers four elements of true love. Here, we apply them to ourselves. Once we have absorbed their meaning, we are ready to apply the concepts to others. Spend some time with these beliefs each day to see how they might become a part of your life:

*Loving kindness-nurturing happiness in self

*Compassion- reducing suffering through acceptance of self

*Joy-innate delight; no effort required in self; balanced mind, body, and soul

*Equanimity-freedom to be self; spaciousness in heart, mind; calmness in self

By taking time to look deeply inward, we practice being in the present moment and know that our higher Self speaks to us. This is the cultivation of self-compassion. Four elements open us to dialogues of love and compassion—first with ourselves. With a bit of practice, we see how these dialogues make us feel cared for and can weave them into conversations with others, offering them compassion. Begin by talking to yourself.

* Presence: (Your name), I am here for you in my looking, sitting, breathing, walking. I offer my true presence.

*Recognition and appreciation: (Your name), I know you are there and I am very happy.

*Relieve pain, suffering created by Ego by being mindful, paying attention: (Your name), I know you suffer and I am here for you.

*Relieve pain, suffering created by a loved one: I suffer because of some action or thought that (loved one’s name) created. Please help me, (loved one’s name), to understand.

Love is the foundation for compassion. By truly loving and understanding ourselves, we can better love and understand others. Thinking and acting compassionately in the thick of things is “a necessity not a luxury.” Traditional forms of compassion are positive for all energies and the planet. However, compassion taken to a deeper level of getting to know, understand and love ourselves, lets us speak authentically. An authentic heart is a gateway or portal to Source. Now we know what we have to offer. No more wondering if certain words or gestures would be meaningful, if something is helpful, or if apologies are in order for not being a psychologist. We know. We’ve taken time to sit with our inner being. We speak from our heart. Any words or actions of compassion are exactly right.

In the quiet moments: Offer love and compassion to yourself, then to others, and then to all energies. Suddenly the world is friendlier and things go better. Give thanks for your life, well-lived.

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

Change Things Up!

I need to “fix” me.  In the past the gift of a new year meant thinking about resolutions, or writing ego-approved statements. Let’s change things up. Yes, we’re human and, by definition, are imperfect. Yet Source has created each of us with a built-in spark of divinity. This is Source within us, our authentic Self. With this spark, we are enough, as is. Let’s focus on that. No need to “fix.” It’s a matter of recognizing and then overriding the voice of Ego. Although its main function is to guide us during life-threatening situations, it sometimes tries to control too much of life. Ego can dominate our thinking regarding appearances, comparisons, statistics, opinions, stories that appear to define us, and emotional baggage. To supersede this kind of egoic thinking, we engage the thinking and feeling of our heart. We allow our spark of divinity to guide us.

When the path to heart thinking and feeling widens, we become more of who we truly are. For that to happen, some people believe it takes a special miracle—others already see the miracles of Source in the everyday thick of things—regardless, heart thinking and feeling increase when perspective shifts. This story comes to mind.

One of my friends in our monthly Story Circle Potluck gatherings had been trained as a dive bomber (SB2C-Helldiver plane) in the Naval Air Corps in preparation to be called into military service. He and other trainees were indoctrinated with hate and the instinct to annihilate the enemy. Later the attack on Pearl Harbor set the stage for the U.S. to enter WW II. As my friend returned to civilian life, deep-seated feelings associated with his training were repressed.

He became an inquisitive, kind-hearted college professor and independent sculptor with a long, creative career. In retirement, sixty-five years post military, health challenges led him to become a patient of a young, gentle and competent doctor who used steroid injections to correct back issues. At the end of an injection appointment, my friend was told he could sit up. He looked at the doctor as the expert lowered his mask to his chin, revealing large, Japanese eyes. There was a brief moment when their eyes met, and my friend’s Ego surfaced in thought: “You know, doctor, it seems only a short time ago that I was physically, emotionally, and technically prepared to drop a bomb on your grandfather.” (my friend’s memoir, p. 49) My friend’s authentic self vibrantly shone forth and the dark thought faded. We can always count on our inner spark of divinity for the appropriate perspective.

Instead of resolutions today, let’s send out vibrations of heart thinking and feeling to the planet and all entities in oneness. Let’s demonstrate who we truly are. Deep in our hearts springs acceptance for self and others, love to overcome all challenges, light as it defines shadow and offers possibilities, openheartedness that bridges all separation, and wisdom to be authentic.

Allow Acceptance.

Love.

Light.

Openheartedness.

Wisdom.

In the quiet moments: What would it take to move to the thinking and feeling of our hearts? To access our inner spark of divinity? To be more authentic?

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

Courageous Conversations

“What counts is not the enormity of the task, but the size of the courage.”

~ Matthieu Ricard

 

Be ready for change. Take courage. Impermanence is constant, yet most of us spend our lives looking the other way; or thinking that, should adversity catch up with us, we’ll deal with it; or believing our strong faith will get us through any kind of adversity—no worries. Yet dealing with impermanence is not quite that simple.

 

Change is inevitable. Change in our families: parents becoming less able, children going to college, faithful pets of many years passing. Change at work: colleagues retiring; peers leaving the “rat race” and moving to a new locale to take care of an aging relative; co-workers dealing with workers’ comp issues and divorce after sustaining an industry accident. Change in community: Long-standing and wise community voices grow silent, buildings from our heritage are replaced, Mother Nature is destroyed in the name of progress.

 

Certainly there were conversations about dying and death between or among those who spoke from their hearts?  Between or among those who listened with openness, putting first another’s interests? Between or among those who understood with compassion? Most of us would have appreciated such conversations; instead, sadly, these conversations never materialized or grazed only the surface of end-of-life issues. Most of us don’t care to pay attention to the results of impermanence; it takes major life changes to hijack our attention. As a result, we are emotionally unprepared, are forced to focus quickly on too many possibilities, lament that we didn’t have end-of-life discussions with our loved ones, and hope for the best. If only we had known what our loved ones wanted?

 

Later, we try to explain away our behaviors…

  • We didn’t talk about it (death)—we wanted to maintain a positive attitude.
  • Massive, abrupt changes in health (stroke, sprained ankle with torn tendons and ligaments, prognosis of six weeks to live) turned our world upside down, yet we didn’t know how to begin sharing our deepest feelings.
  • I live alone with my dog, yet I couldn’t count on my pet to dial 9-1-1. Guess I need a Plan B.

 

Have a conversation. Have a conversation now. Have a conversation now when you are of sound mind, when you’re not stressed, when your emotions are balanced, even if you think it’s ridiculous. These conversations become gifts to both you and to your family and friends. Now is the time.

 

As the initiator of the conversation, decide on the topics to cover, place, and time to meet. Often others will be uncomfortable with the topics of health crises or decisions, your funeral or final wishes if they differ from the “norm,” finances, death, or others. Conversation means you care. You are not alone. Explore this critical information with your loved ones or with a trusted friend.

 

Many of these topics can be explored through web sites, medical doctors and specialists, or lawyers. To get started, consider questions to ask before an emergency.

Print the answers and make the information easily accessible (perhaps posted on the frig):

  • “Street address (and closest cross street)
  • Call-back number
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Recent medical events, if any”

www.webmd.com  “Calling 911: What to do in an Emergency” and more.

 

Another web site that covers extensive grief support resources by type of loss is www.mygriefangels.org.  For basic info on wills and probate or to locate a law firm specializing in this area by zip code, consider www.wills-probate.lawyers.com.

Finally, “The Huffington Post,” based in Washington D.C, carries a blog entry, “How to Have Everyday Conversations about Death and Dying,” by Karen M. Wyatt, M.D.

www.huffingtonpost.com

 

 

 

In the quiet moments: Engage in these important conversations today. The information exchanged will give you peace of mind. Take courage. I care for and love you.

 

 

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

small acts, great love

It all began on Friday at 6:30 a.m.—witnessing little things done with great love—and became more apparent as the weekend continued. Strong winds throughout the night had made sleep difficult, yet the early morning hours brought a smile to my face. There is nothing like the aroma of pancakes and bacon wafting into the bedroom. No, Paul had not gotten up early this particular day to make breakfast, although I am the luckiest woman on the planet to experience a nutritious morning spread nearly every day, including eggs, Swiss chard, and a variety of fresh fruit. No, IHOP® had not gone mobile. No, this day my nonagenarian neighbor was performing her magic. Her husband, three adult children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild would highly agree that she has perfected a lifetime of culinary skills. She is quick to smile and add a story to complete her breakfast fare. I offered silent gratitude that she put so much of herself into an often taken-for-granted task. Source was in the thick of things. As Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Putting our hearts into whatever we do demonstrates a deep, pervading love that people feel, regardless of age or circumstance.

 

Preparing for dinner guests later that evening, I glanced out of the kitchen window and saw a man with a familiar gait. Each day, for the last two years, he walked. Regardless of weather, this fitness seeker’s route included the street that went past our house, over to other streets and downtown. Occasionally he would stoop to pick up litter and make a difference. One day, while running a few errands downtown, I met him on the sidewalk and stopped to thank him for picking up refuse. He seemed surprised that I had noticed. I’m walking anyway. It’s just a small thing that I can do, he said. What great love and compassion for Mother Earth. No expectations. It just seemed to be the right thing to do.

 

The next morning I attended a yoga class. Most yoga teachers offer verbal modifications for poses during yoga classes. From time to time, I try an Intermediate Vinyasa class to see if my muscle tremors will permit me to build more core strength. On this day, the asanas were still too demanding, and I sank into Child’s Pose, the premiere modification pose to regain breath and composure. To my surprise, several seconds later, I felt the warmth of the teacher’s hands soothing my spine, letting me know that she was aware that I was struggling and, regardless of my situation, that I had her support. This small act offered with great love brought tears to my eyes. Source was in the thick of things.

 

That afternoon I learned about how a couple I admire has been corresponding with a prisoner who is up for parole this coming spring. Once back in mainstream society, he will be trying to make ends meet with only a small disability check. Recently, he found out that his few possessions had been stolen. My friends contacted Friends Anonymous, a local group of people whose financial gifts have helped hundreds of people over the last eighteen years. The words of Margaret Mead guide this group of thirty altruists. “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world.” In fact, it is the only thing that ever has changed the world. The organization, without judgment, offers limited financial means to people with no other way to access finances. Meeting monthly, the group tries to maintain a bank balance of $0. Cheers to my friends for offering great love without expectations and to Friends Anonymous for their behind-the-scenes love and work.

 

The next day I learned of a man who has changed his ways of thinking and habits. Since his wife died, he has become more aware and involved in life beyond himself. He is the quintessential volunteer and delights in putting first the good of others. Recently, he developed Shingles and is maintaining a positive life view, still seeking to help others. He knows the value of giving of himself.

 

The “Small Acts, Great Love” theme brought to mind yet one more example to end my weekend. One of my friends knits hats for people who have undergone chemotherapy for cancer. A sweet knitting fanatic, she began doing this when her own mother was diagnosed with cancer and lost her hair during treatments. When enough of us practice small acts of selfless love, we reach the tipping point of maturity and compassion. We recognize our connection with each other, know we are not alone, and see Source in the thick of things. Awareness is beautiful.

 

 

In the quiet moments: Set aside five or ten minutes a day to brainstorm simple ways to show great love by doing small things that require a minimal investment of time, personal effort or a change in attitude. Perhaps it’s reading to children. Or, listening, conversing, and hugging someone in need of a bit of nurturing. Maybe it’s simply smiling/saying hello to people on the street. No expectations or judgments allowed. Start now. Let me know what happens.

 

 

© 2015 in the thick of things

the tremor twins

Neck tremors:  They came and went without pattern, yet, up to that point, did not affect my sleep or daily activities. Besides, it is often useless to explain the onset of odd quirks in the body. They’re like Minnesota weather—wait for a little while, and things change. I suppose there could have been a number of competing causes: harvesting tomatoes, herbs and raspberries; cleaning up the gardens and yard for fall; decluttering our house and filling a 20-yard dumpster; and preparing for and hosting a yard sale. These stressors were the basis of the “Last Straw Award,” recognized periodically by various compromised parts of my body.

 

Stress or not, this time my encounter with muscle tremors in my neck was markedly different from the first experience. As I lied down to go to sleep, they consumed me. They were unstoppable. They increased in severity. For fourteen hours my head did nothing but wobble, regardless of my body position. For the most part, yogic breathing, meditating, or telling my ego to go to her corner—that I wasn’t in any physical danger—mediate my stressors. Not this time. I tried replacing my trusty pillow with the ergonomic one recommended by my chiropractor, embracing and calming my fear, and thinking of things for which I was grateful (that actually helped for a while). However, the tremors returned. Fear grew ten-fold, and panic set in. It was a vicious cycle. I was certain that I had a serious disorder and was not long for this world.

 

Morning hours approached and, although exhausted, I decided to attend an early yoga class because yoga always makes me feel better. A fellow yogi, who is a neuro-muscular therapist, gently took me by the shoulders and said I would be fine. Fear was the driving factor—I needed to continue my breathing and visioning. The tremors did not go away; they just came with less intensity. I managed my daytime activities to include movements and positions that offered me comfort and support. I had an earnest conversation with Source, indicating that I was knocking at a portal and would appreciate knowing that I had been heard. My all-consuming fear had blocked any chance of realizing Source’s presence. I felt a smidge like a four-year-old, begging for a night light to be left on in my room because of the monsters lurking under my bed. The tremors were scary. I did not want to think about the upcoming evening hours. I was not alone, yet it felt like it.

 

At 9:30 p.m. I meditated on “Calm Lake,” a Buddhist visualization that substitutes calm mental pictures for nagging worry phrases. Still somewhat anxious and feeling subdued tremors, I fell asleep. Some time later, I was awakened by the voice of a familiar friend from the woods near our home—the eight-to-nine-note call of the Barred Owl.

 

During an earlier, twenty-seven month writing project that culminated in PENROE: in another field without time (www.penroe.net), I had researched and written about the Barred Owl. This was the totem animal of the main character of the book. The sound that I heard was its distinct lyric that called to me on three previous occasions during the development of the book. Locating a specific line of poetry among thousands of lines, deciding to diverge from the standard use of dialogue, or using non-traditional ways of shaping the narrative, the Barred Owl’s voice brought courage and confirmation. All energies are connected. Clearly in the thick of things, Source had spoken to me then through the owl and was speaking to me now. Everything is exactly as it should be and all is well. The owl’s call spread calm and peace throughout my anxious body. The tremors subsided. Source had heard my knock, and I was humbled and grateful to have received an answer. In hindsight, Source is always available; it was I who needed more faith.

 

The tremors are still with me, yet their random presence has happened fewer and fewer times. I set appointments with my doctor and acupuncturist. I know Source “has my back.”

 

 

In the quiet moments : When you’re in a situation where you’ve run out of options, feel out-of-control (not that you ever were in control!) and don’t know if Source is truly listening, call on faith and persistence. Know that you can trust Source.

 

 

© 2015 in the thick of things

pick it up, put it down, let It be

November generally gives me a break from the fall harvesting, freezing, and dehydrating of fruits and veggies, and lets me slow down. Not this year! Everything was focused on November 6, my daughter’s due date for the birth of the couple’s first child. The mommas had a plan. They had selected a midwife, doula, lactation expert, pediatrician, and chiropractor as their birth medical team at Hennepin County Medical Center. The nursery was ready; the gender-neutral first name had been carefully chosen. All of the baby clothes were washed, folded and placed in drawers. Everything was ready for baby’s debut. Source was in the thick of things.

 

As the magic date came and went, more home improvement projects were finished; “Meal Train,” an on-line sign-up for meal delivery, was organized; and a tsunami of support and love manifested. Yet, as the days passed, I grew less positive, picking up my “pain body” from earlier birth experiences, knowing that no amount of wishing on my daughter’s behalf would affect the unfolding of the upcoming event. Yet, always in the back of my mind was the question, Where is Source?

 

I am reminded of Eckhart Tolle’s comments about pain body. “Emotional Pain Body is the main cause of drama, pain and suffering in humanity. “ Cumulated Emotional Pain (Pain Body)”, https://vimeo.com/14125850. A pain body triggers strong emotional reactions (fear, anger, distrust, destructiveness, grief, even illness) based on painful, earlier experiences and starts an internal dialogue that overtakes all human senses and powers. If a person is not aware that the pain body is becoming active and telling a story, then the individual cannot get the upper hand, and the pain body soon controls all of the thinking and feeling. Only by becoming an observer of the pain body can it be exposed for what it is—a charlatan that thinks it knows the answers. Besides, emotional reactions from earlier pain body experiences generally do not apply to current situations. It is more effective to observe the pain body, than to get caught up in it.

 

I knew the strategies for overriding a pain body, yet my humanness caused me to waffle. My pain body was a set of four childbirth experiences; I was recalling my own labors and projecting circumstances on my daughter’s experience. Memories came flooding back to me:  a  l—e—n—g—t—h—y  delivery, the feeling of being totally out-of-control, ineffective Lamaze breathing techniques, and a near-miss C-section. All conjured up fear. In those days, I did not see Source in the birthing process, only in the resulting precious life. I did not know that I was more than my pain body and emotional reactions.

 

A dear friend helped me to loosen the grip of this pain body during my daughter’s days of labor and delivery. We referred to it as a practice. I had a choice to surrender my suffering or pain body to Source or to keep the drama going. To know this choice existed was Source in the thick of things. Surrendering meant that I put down my pain body, and Source carried it. Clinging to the pain body meant I wanted it and believed that I knew what was best. Even though I felt some relief and lightness when I gave Source my pain body, it continued to reappear. Pain bodies persist as long as they are nourished by any negative emotions or drama—even traces. This was not a time for a token gesture. I was challenged to wholeheartedly eliminate or override my negative emotions. That process takes a willingness to change habits and doesn’t happen quickly (twenty-one days, research confirms) Intention, observation, practice and non-judgment are needed to stop the progress of the pain body. Once it is released to Source, we gain more room for love, joy, compassion, and peace of mind.

 

Often, I put down my fear surrounding this birth, and Source carried it for me. Just as often, I picked up the pain body of fear, feeling the return of emotional reactions from earlier life events. Cultivating a different habit takes commitment. It takes practice. It takes work. I wish I could report that, in addition to expanding our family circle, I am now able to put down all of my pain bodies and release them to Source. Not so, yet I am more aware of my choices. I continue to practice and am grateful. All is well.

 

Six “grands” over the last eight years have taught me a little about how I imagine Source to view birthing. There is a plan, and all things work together in beauty, light and perfect timing. Babies choose mothers who are perfectly suited to meet their fledglings’ needs, and Source works through medical team members who often perform at a level beyond their highest training and expectations. At a birth, Source smiles and resounds, Yes, another pearl! The rest of us are awed by unlimited potential.

 

In the quiet moments: Think about a time when you had a choice to surrender your suffering to Source or to maintain the drama. What happened? What if you had made a different choice?

 

 

© 2015 in the thick of things

awakening to source

Back in the day, I wonder if I could have entertained this quest—looking for ways that Source or spiritual energy show up in my daily life experiences and encounters with people. Could I have seen heaven on earth? I’m unsure. Even with diligent searching, my mind would have been consumed with thoughts, mostly concerning the “doing” of my day, the daily schedules, judgments and drama. How would I ever find Source amid all of these? Naturally, I would have needed to prioritize differently or something would have been left undone.

 

Everything was important, or so Ego told me. With four wonderful children, I juggled. Ever-mounting stress made me consider, just a passing fancy, what I might let go of and how. Yet there was only so much time, and it was essential that everything run smoothly. The kids’ dad paid the mortgage and utility bills, juggled finances, and taught and coached. I was the foundation for homework, piano lessons, laundry, cleaning, social calendar, and meals. Together, we shared getting the kids to sports practices and games.

 

My day as a corporate trainer began early, and I always seemed to be playing “catch up” as the day unfolded. Family dinner was usually a casserole, or hot dish as Midwesterners referred to it, and I rarely had time to sauté the onions and garlic. Church Choir and Confirmation teaching rounded out my responsibilities, along with four nights per week of supper club waitressing. I decided it was easier not to think about how to keep up with activities and responsibilities and just act on what needed to be done. I was on a treadmill where slowing down, let alone stopping, was not a choice. How would I have time to look for Source?

 

This was my life, thirty years ago—probably not too dissimilar from that of mothers today. I was aware of only one interpretation of Source—an almighty God that was “out there,” someplace where I might aspire to live my afterlife, should I survive the responsibilities of parenting, jobs, sports and community. For me, there was no other way to see Source. As I lovingly carried out my responsibilities, I was truly asleep to any other possibilities beyond my immediate world.

 

In my fifties, the kids left for college, one-by-one, and I was face-to-face with myself. I began to wonder Who am I? Do I have a purpose beyond the rat race? Is this all there is? My inner life was changing, and my outer life no longer matched or even complemented it. After much thought and listening to my heart, it was time to honor my inner voice, make some changes, and walk a new path. I divorced, began a new job that offered benefits to part-timers, and began studying New Thought spirituality. My soul soon felt nourished and uplifted. After several years I remarried, enjoying an equal partnership through common values, emotional support and creativity.

 

It was then that I began to learn the nature of integrating body, mind and ego. Only in hindsight did I realize that Source was in the thick of things in my life all those years ago. It was my inability to see. Perfection, arrogance in that I thought I knew best, and control were hallmarks of my cloudy vision.

 

Over time, I understood that I needed to meet life in the moment and stop worrying about the past or fearing the future. Everything was exactly as it needed to be, all was well, and a much greater plan of divine wisdom was unfolding me. Slowing down to reflect on my life and reassessing my thinking helped me to feel gratitude for all the people and situations that had contributed to shaping the person I am today. Equally important is the big picture. I learned that times of challenge revealed my positive, as well as negative characteristics; times that were comfortable indicated how much I had grown.

 

How reassuring that Source is in everyone and everything. It’s up to me to see. My vision is becoming clearer. Source or spiritual energy has been there all along, I just didn’t realize it. The decision to spend time in contemplation gave me an opportunity, an opening, to seek Source. Adding some “being” rather than only “doing” woke me up.

 

 

In the quiet moments: It takes a certain amount of life experience to gain wisdom, an on-going process. Gift yourself with some time for solitude and let your innate wisdom reveal how Source has been in the thick of things throughout your life.

 

 

© 2015 in the thick of things

conscious decisions

A statement from Dr. Wayne Dyer recently spoke to me: “Heaven is a state of mind, not a location since Spirit is everywhere and in everything. You can begin making a conscious decision to look for the unfolding of Spirit in everything and everyone that you encounter.” ~“Natural Awakenings,” ‘Heaven Within,’ September 2015

Personal challenge appeals to me. Actually my husband, Paul, and I both wanted to look for the spiritual energy in our days’ experiences and encounters. I am progressing toward minimizing daily schedules, judging, and drama anyway. New space gives me room to process perspectives. Finding Spirit, God, Buddha (or my preferred name, Source) in the mundane requires me to set an intention, focus my attention on the unfolding of each moment, and honor my discoveries without expectation or judgment. A rather tall order.

I believe in miracles and regard the birth of a baby as a profound example—a gift from Source. I have read about miracle operations in medical journals. The media is also a witness: “One-hundred-pound woman lifts car chassis to save son’s life.” Her adrenaline kicked in, and she became, for a moment, superhuman. That’s the point—I know that Source shows up at superhuman levels. What I want to witness is Source at work at ordinary levels, in life as it unfolds. An opportunity soon presented itself.

Chatting with a friend whom I had known through our spiritual center, I learned the story of his father’s death. The words that stood out for me were He flew away on a gentle breeze. To the casual listener, these words may have seemed like a fantasy, a figment of my friend’s imagination, yet, in hindsight, the words represented much more.

My friend told me that his dad had been a gardener and had loved the outdoors with its changing seasons. However, illness in the later part of his life brought numerous hospital stays, great struggles, and suffering. His condition was better served by a care facility where he experienced some peace.

One particular day, not long after his move to the care facility, my friend and his sister decided to take their dad outside, pushing his wheelchair along a beautiful garden pathway to a grove of trees. Brother and sister talked about memories of their dad’s tree plantings and vegetable gardens. Both remarked about an exquisite breeze just before my friend’s sister left.

As the story unfolded, I felt Source in the thick of things. My friend had asked his dad if he wanted to remain outside. He nodded yes, and the two of them made their way to a nearby bench. My friend said thoughtfully, Sometimes I think God is just like the wind—you can’t see it, yet you know it’s there. Dad, you could just let go and fly away. Within one to two minutes of speaking those words, my friend noticed that his dad had stopped breathing. In the interim, there was no struggle. He peacefully inhaled and exhaled again, followed by another breath and final exhale. My friend’s words may have offered the permission that his dad had been waiting to hear.

A gentle being, my friend’s Dad appreciated nature. Anecdotal research confirms that loved ones do know when they are ready to die. Often character traits that are not prominent during life become strong at the edge of life. His dad had typically struggled with decision making, often with making very simple ones. However, the decision to leave this plane of existence—one of the most important decisions of a lifetime—was made quickly and easily. Source provided the vehicle. Hearing this story was a gift, and I felt the presence of Source.

My friend concluded, for the most part, that he had regarded death as a painful process. Yet witnessing his father’s death drew his attention beyond the physical, to the mystical beauty and inexplicable role of an “exquisite breeze.” He went on to speak at his dad’s funeral, something he had previously determined he would not do. Death had become a time of transformation and growth for both men and, ultimately, for the entire family. My friend has continued to feel strategically occurring “exquisite breezes” that remind him of Source’s presence.

I am grateful for my friend, his story, and the openings to Source that are provided by the moments I’m experiencing. Join me. Set an intention to observe Source at work in daily life. Allow your attention to rest on present moments without expectations. Over time, this small, sacred act will shift your perspective. No judgments, just acceptance. Again, again, and again. You will find openings. You will experience Source.

Taking five or ten minutes to observe current moments without judgment replaces some of the busyness of life. While focusing your attention on what the moment has to offer—a gift from Source—you make space for greater understandings to occur. Through the moments, you get a glimpse of your true self and realize that there is more to you than you thought. Your inner understanding points to a new direction.

 

In the quiet moments:  Remember a superhuman miracle from the past—something you’ve read about or have been told. Now recall a recent experience from everyday circumstances that, because of a change in your perspective, you now view as a miracle. What changed? Was a conscious decision involved?

 

© 2015 in the thick of things