your heart song is forever

To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.

~Arne Garborg, 1851-1924, Norwegian writer; translated The Odyssey into New Norwegian

In witnessing over one hundred external and internal experiences with Source, I believe that Arne Garborg’s quote is exactly how Source takes care of us. This infinite font of grace and supply continuously loves, supports, and offers us messages for our highest good—messages of awakening—with complete acceptance. Yet, because we are human, many of us sleep right through the wake-up calls. Possibilities to open, be compassionate, and understand our oneness with each other pass us by as we blindly tick-off the boxes on our “to-do” list. Still Source patiently waits for us to understand.

For many of us, identifying with “being” is unfamiliar. We are bulldozing fixers, arrogant believers in our own knowledge, and “doers” supreme. We have spent most of our lives differentiating ourselves and competing at all costs to be successful through accumulation of wealth, reputation, and material goods. Feeling fairly smug, it’s hard to admit that most of the time we have slogged through life disregarding Source, never believing that a true Self existed, let alone that we would someday meet face-to-face.

We have struggled and suffered, chalking it up to the naïveté of Adam’s and Eve’s apple munching, shaking our heads at the fate of generation after generation. The more we demonstrate our omniscience, the more we convey the way of Ego. Busyness keeps us distracted so we can manipulate our outcomes. We are on top of the world. We are invincible. With state-of-the-art medical technologies, we can even outsmart death, at least for awhile. This finality is for others—so sad for them—yet we cannot spend time thinking about it (because then it might happen to us!). On happy days, we welcome caring for others, particularly our aging parents. Our hearts are comforted by the availability to purchase in-home care or insurance. No biggie. Impermanence? What’s impermanence? We are separate from Source and loving it. Who needs an “awakening” journey or a heart song?

Then it happens. Impermanence abruptly turns our heads. We’re sorry that we hadn’t thought about the “I” word, nor wondered what it would be like should it become part of our life. Now Devastation walks right in and throws around its weight. How come such horrible dis-ease is happening to us? We’ve led a golden life, with a golden career, a golden spouse or partner and children, a golden home, and golden friends. This can’t be possible! Life does not come with guarantees; events simply happen. Where is this God that is always supposed to protect us? to be in “our corner”? to allow only the good things to unfold? What a ruse! Surely it’s an oversight. We’ve been brushed aside, forgotten. Anger, guilt or shame consumes us. Barely surviving these emotions, we realize that something exists that is greater than we are, and it’s to our advantage to reach out to it.

Have we really been forgotten? Has Source actually given up on us? That’s just Ego whining. We apologize and bargain. After all, we believe that we’ve done all the “right” things: listened to Ego’s advice, ate organic foods, drank only purified water, exercised on schedule, volunteered, and offered kindness. That’s enough, isn’t it?

Enough for what? To feel good about hearing accolades for being a highly celebrated person? To ease our suffering at the time of death? To get us into heaven? Our busyness actually blocks Source messages from coming to us. Quickly we change our thinking and remember that when we feel forgotten by our higher power, it is we who need to clear some blockages. Urgently we ask the questions, How do I find an awakening journey? Does a heart song come with it?

How much of our day has been spent reflecting less on drama and more on what really matters in life: ways to slow down in order to find portals to Source; thankfulness for everything in life, both great and small; the role of initiating self-compassion and compassion for others; and the discovery of a softened and relaxed heart that opens to the wisdom of consciousness.  It is never too late or too early to start pondering.

Many of us accomplish our secondary purpose, to find our talents and gifts and share them with the world. Our primary purpose, however and one that we all share, is to increase awareness of oneness with all other energies and move confidently toward remergence with Source. Have we made strides in that direction? Have we taken time daily to reflect on the questions, Who am I? What constitutes a meaningful life? How fulfilling are my relationships? Now we know what has been deep within our core and all but forgotten.

Clarity through infinite answers and direction waits for us, now that we know where and how to look. Source cares for us, loves us, and sings our heart song to us, as we gently awaken to connectedness. Benefiting by knowing our own heart song, we extend love to others by signing their heart songs.  We connect and daily walk toward the light.

Integrated perspective: Our humanness sometimes interferes with our “being,” and Source whispers our heart song. We stir. Sometimes we overlook our capacity to love and receive love, and Source chants our heart song. We yearn. Sometimes we forget how important it is to recognize and celebrate the connection of all energies, and Source soulfully sings our heart song. Remembering, we leap for joy!

Song: To Love Someone by Paul Krause:

© 2015 in the thick of things

You are So Much More

How much evidence is needed? You are so much more was the message that my softened and surrendered heart received from Source less than a week ago. What did this message mean and where was it leading? Previous to the night of the message, I had spent five hours with a nonagenarian relative in the Emergency Room (ER) and subsequent hospital room as he continued to interact with a racing heartbeat. I wanted to be with him and his daughter at his bedside to connect with him through “Heart Talk”—an approach of support, “being” in oneness and, above all, shared love in the present moment. “Our work is to come together in truth. To become the perfect environment for each other’s recognition that there is no other, but just the One to be shared,” Who Dies? Stephen and Ondrea Levine, p.171.

I adjusted his blankets for warmth, placed my hand on his shoulder, looked in the direction of his eyes and began to speak through heart vibrations. His daughter offered a comment to add some levity that he should decide between Red Lobster and The Olive Garden as a dinner destination for the following week. As the medical team prepared to shock his heart with the hope of gaining a normal heart rate, his racing heartbeat suddenly began to drop significantly. Nosedive by nosedive, it normalized. I was reminded of my inner spark of divinity. It was Source working through me that held sacred space for whatever would be the appropriate healing for my relative’s situation.

Two days later while attending a Unity service, certain lyrics from “Hold On,” a song from The Secret Garden—a 1993 musical about death and loss—hijacked my attention. More evidence. Underlined passages resonate with me.

“Hold On” (excerpts)

“What you’ve got to do is finish
What you have begun!…

When you see the storm is coming
See the lightning part the skies
It’s too late to run
There’s terror in your eyes
What you do then is remember
This old thing you heard me say
“It’s the storm, not you
That’s bound to blow away”

Hold on…
Don’t even ask how long or why?
Child, hold on to what you know is true
Hold on till you get through.
Child, oh child
Hold on…

[When you feel your heart is poundin’
Fear a devil’s at your door
There’s no place to hide
You’re frozen to the floor
What you do then is you force yourself
To wake up, and just say
“It’s this dream, not me
That’s bound to go away”…

Hold on, the night will soon be by
Hold on
Until there’s nothing left to try
Child, hold on, there’s angels on their way
Hold on and hear them say
“Child, oh child!”

When you see a man who’s raging
And he’s jealous and he fears
That you’ve walked through walls
He’s hid behind for years
What you do then
Is you tell yourself to wait it out
And say “It’s this day, not me
That’s bound to go away”

Child, oh, hold on
It’s this day, not you,
That’s bound to go away.”

Again, You are so much more resounded in my heart, symbolizing an alignment with Source, my higher Self. When I focus on this alignment, my strength knows no boundaries and my path to enlightenment is clear. How much more evidence is needed? Yet, persuasive ego tends to derail me, although in fewer instances as time goes on. Thinking of my relationship with Source, I need only ask and then wait for guidance and answers to appear. It’s when I begin to doubt, question, and close my heart that things get murky. Staying in the moment and expecting to hear from Source, the next steps come to me. With a softened heart, I look to this as my reality, and situations that are difficult, worrisome or fearful—the dramas of life—are recognized as illusions. Perhaps it’s the day, the response, or circumstances. Each of these, not my higher Self, will “go away.” My higher Self is part of Source; therefore, I am steadfast and endure.

Over time, I believed that I had understood this concept, knew the right words to explain it, and could give examples. I see now that I had more living to do to fully realize alignment as a gift. It’s not important that circumstances have repeated themselves in a variety of ways to yield recognition or that understanding has taken a while to settle into my bones. When I set an intention to raise my consciousness and pursue alignment, it will happen. Timing is of no consequence. Source has a plan and is in and around me, always. Doubt came because I carried the alignment only in my head, vulnerable to Ego; now I believe in and hold the alignment with Source in my heart.

Then it was Tuesday. You are so much more defines connection. I received meaningful comments about the recently-held me! die? gathering; found the “right fit” webmaster, which was the result of completely trusting my intuition; and spent the day experiencing the world from the perspective of our eleventh-month-old grandson. Each precious moment offered endless gifts: smiles, exploratory movements and experimental noises created with his tongue, communication full of nuances, and the wonder and awe of earrings and zippers, to name a few. Even the moments spent reading Alaska 1-2-3 Counting Book for the fifteenth time renewed a fondness in my heart for his excitement as we approached that special page, and he exuberantly waved to nine polar bears waving back at him.

You are so much more goes beyond “correct” answers and possibilities—extensions of the mind. With the knowledge of Source alignment in my heart, I feel my thoughts, words, and actions through trust and patience, without strategy. The results are universally agreeable. Receiving awareness from Source in mysterious ways no longer surprises me. At 4 a.m. I awoke to “nudges” for this blog entry that ended in an obscure circle of light gently pulsating in my head. I know. Evidence is surpassed by joy.

Inwardly speaking: Set your intention. Ask your heart to lead you into alignment with Source. It will come to you in time. You are so much more than you think.

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

Rushing

Video: https://youtu.be/DCzeVaGXldw

A family gathering: Rushing to get there. Rushing to be together. Rushing to take time. Destination: Calgary, Alberta, to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of Paul’s Mom. Over fifty family members and friends would honor the family matriarch and share stories. The busyness of the last three days was equaled, and eventually transformed, by the rushing waters of Fish Creek Provincial Park. I entered the peacefulness of nature. Red-leaved bushes and swooping, white-tipped tailed and winged Magpies echoed the freedom of the wild, the unknown. The refreshing sounds and sights beckoned my attention—a type of Pandora’s Box that was forever changing, unlike the hidden and forbidden contents of the myth.

Curiosity growing, I became the red leaves, the gracefulness of black and white birds with negative reputations. Movement morphed into questions. Would I find the area where, three years previously, Black-Capped Chickadees fed on seed from my human hand? Would the early mountain snowstorm quietly, yet assuredly, define every inch of surroundings? Is there an advantage to contemplating death while out in the very nature of life? Other than at death itself, do the questions ever stop? Does the inner work ever end? My best guess is that I’ll always be a work-in-progress (WIP).

Life and death are complimentary partners. Inseparable, they have similar characteristics of accompanying the soul into the unknown, of exploring its purpose, and of extending love throughout the universe. Yet there are moments of drama and resistance that continue to plague my thoughts and emotions. Part of me is still trying to be someone or something. It is then that I feel there is a lot of surrendering to be done. Pushing and striving do not serve me. Rather, continuing to understand my experiences as illusions and non-essential frees more space for what really matters—the automatic knowing of unconditional love. What I know, I live and share.

Fluid connection and integration with the energies within and around me lead the way to an automatic knowing in my heart. This automatic knowing equates to the feeling that overcomes me while listening to a concert of professional musicians intersecting interpretation, rhythm, space and resonance, creating a peak experience. The giving and receiving between us leads to an upward spiraling oneness of unconditional love, unexplained by words.

However, while trying to be someone or something, I am unable to feel this connection of unconditional love. Striving is unnecessary because Source already knows my essence to be unique. Further striving creates separation from Source. To be ordinary is to be whole and complete, as created. Content with oneself. The higher realms pose this reality. I understand this principle, yet I hear Ego screaming, What do you mean, be ordinary?! You grew up encouraged (OK, pushed) to ‘make something of yourself’—be different, work harder, be better! This was also your mantra in life’s middle years. Now, in your later years, you want to give up on that? What a disappointment you are! Those words pierce my heart. They don’t describe my truth as I’ve come to know it today. They are just one of Ego’s ploys–stories I’ve heard repeatedly from parents, teachers, and bosses—a familiar societal rant. Really. I don’t have to try to be someone or something. I am worthy and perfect in Source’s eyes, just as I am.

Continuing on my walk in the park, I could recall few people over my lifetime that I would define as ordinary. One does stand out, only because everyone else at the time was trying to differentiate. Mary, my neighbor of thirty years ago, seemed to be content with life and had no need for striving. She and I got together to talk two or three times a week while our kids played on a swing set or devoured a yummy picnic lunch. I remember Mary most vividly because she did not worry about her two-year-old daughter or four-year-old son. She knew that her husband would always be a successful business person. She accepted the blight on her tomato plants, the Boxelder bugs that swarmed on the south side of her home in the fall, or the winter’s snow and ice. Diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, Mary had received a terminal prognosis of six months. Although extraordinary in her courage, what impressed me most, as I think back to our time together, was her acceptance of the ordinary within the present moment, something that I had no understanding of at the time. Not once did she pity herself. Without even trying, she was the strength of love, compassion, and connection. Oh, to remember these gifts among the living from one who was dying. As we are in life, so we are in death. Mary transitioned with great peace of mind—she knew her truth—and I am grateful for a deeper understanding of those shared moments.

Another question that comes forward from Pandora’s Box is “What do I celebrate in death?” Certainly the beginning of another cycle of rebirth. Preceding this celebration is the role model in death that we become to our family members, friends, and community. That is worth considering. By going inward, in advance of our compromised health or journey of dying, we realize what is important to us, how to make known our voice, and what we want others to remember. It is our exclusive deathright to decide how we want to die and what we want others to know about that time in our life.

Video:https://youtu.be/IvqWJiyd4hE

Walking along the park trail, I noticed the fluffy seeds of the thistle that are controlled by the timing and conditions of nature. This is a perfect metaphor for our dying and death experience. Our thoughts and feelings, directed by something unseen, yet felt, need to be thoughtfully expressed, not repressed or controlled by others. These expressions work to our advantage while we have the beauty of a sound mind. We, like the seeds, have no control over whether our thoughts and feelings fall on open or closed hearts, on fertile or infertile ground. Why not role model openhearted communication to share our legacy that lives in the moment, yet becomes a gift to generations?

Pandora’s Box is nearly empty with the fullness of self-understanding and gifts from the life-death cycle. Together, we share oneness of destination, framed by unique style.

 

Inwardly speaking: Have gratitude for questions posed, life and death explored, and insights learned in this lifetime.

 

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

masks

Pièce de résistance. Why would intuition bring forward that term when contemplating yet another question regarding death? What do we resist? That which we resist is what we most need to explore. Yet, pièce de résistance, borrowed from the French, suggests three different meanings in life: “1) Creative masterwork or masterpiece, 2) Best achievement of an author, artist, representing a major life effort, or 3) Finest part of something, especially a meal” https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pi%C3%A8ce_de_r%C3%A9sistance. Are any of these definitions applicable to the dying and death experiences? The initial answer came, No! It’s just part of the vocabulary gleaned from a French minor completed in college. Yet, thoughts found the perspective intriguing. Yes! This noun perfectly describes life, death and dying.

Death is our crowning masterpiece, a culmination of the experiences we came to earth to explore. Death brings together our major life efforts—what we have learned, what we have given back, and how we have lived our purpose, recalling that our shared primary purpose is to learn the truth of who we are. Like food, death and dying are surrounded by rituals. Whether sitting down to a glorious meal with traditional table service and generationally-inspired, succulent entrees or witnessing our final moments amid the gifts of others’ stories, singing, and private moments, our intention is the finest, sharing our journey with family, friends, and community. We are not separate or alone, rather loved, safe and at ease; Source is with us.

Until we accept this awareness, we continue to “dig in,” often in subtle ways. Resistance seems to be one of many built-in paths honed by Ego. Justified and well-protected, these paths become patterns to live by. We advocate according to our comfort level. Everything outside of that range is questioned or dismissed, a sign of resistance. Many of us attribute resistance to our strong values and convictions; culturally, we believe this to be a good thing. And, it may be, to a point. It is only when these beliefs become exclusive to any other ways of thinking or being that we experience separateness. On go the masks!

Disconnection queries without facts; births misunderstandings that lead to grudges; withholds forgiveness from ourselves and from others; starts or accepts rumors to abet our own agendas; demonstrates one-upmanship through status, wealth, or talents; creates self-sabotaging thoughts or comments; or assigns blame. This is resistance to “what is.” We believe that these behaviors are acceptable and the “norm” in society. In reality, not only do these behaviors separate us from each other, but they separate us from Source. They are NOT of truth nor of the present moment, which is all we are given.

“The ego believes that in your resistance lies your strength, whereas in truth resistance cuts you off from Being, the only place of true power. Resistance is weakness and fear masquerading as strength. What the ego sees as weakness is your Being in its purity, innocence, and power. What it sees as strength is weakness. So the ego exists in a continuous resistance-mode and plays counterfeit roles to cover up your ‘weakness,’ which in truth is your power.”

~Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, pp. 215-16

In working toward discovering the truth of who we are, our wholeness, we explore what we resist, that which we mask to the world; its roots; and resistance itself. In the sunset years of life, it is to our benefit to revisit ideas or behaviors that, years earlier, we challenged, opposed, or denied for any reason. A second look now could usher in a new perspective as we approach our inevitable death and those of our loved ones. Research shows that those who devote time today to inner contemplation of their death, experience less fear, fewer regrets, more ease, and more love at the actual time of death.

Last Saturday night I awoke to a queasy stomach, shortness of breath, and overall anxiety. I was resisting my sanity in offering a gathering to talk about all things death-related the next afternoon. Ego brazenly posed questions about the validity of my idea: Why is a perfectly normal woman like you bringing such a “morbid” (others’ words) gathering to Northfield? You can’t imagine that anyone would come (I had four positive and two “maybe” RSVP’s)?! This is a ridiculous idea! You’ll see—it will flop. No one willingly chooses to discuss the dying process and death (I considered those to be inciting words).

Half an hour had lapsed, and I noted little change in my physical ailments. I acknowledged Ego and openly accepted the possibilities she mentioned. So what? Me! Die? was not a life or death matter—even though we couldn’t talk about one without talking about the other! This gathering was an opportunity to bring Death out of the closet. By coming together in community to discuss views, fears, anxieties, and questions about death (and ultimately, life!), we would be living our finite lives more fully. Stories would join us too.

So what was going on in my mind about resistance in general, beyond the hosting of this specific gathering? Introducing an idea that is considered culturally “taboo” by most is swimming upstream—labeling and challenging. Yet my higher Self knew that I had been divinely led to pursue this path as a way to fulfill my purpose of healing and awakening others through words and healing energy—a respectful path of service. Over these thoughts I heard, You are not alone. I am with you. Only two other times in my life had I received words from Source. Grateful for this ultimate confidence, my over-stimulated nervous system was calmed. I relaxed and went back to sleep.

I had been questioning (resisting) the logic of my purpose and Source’s support; it was as if two personalities were arguing in my head. I was not leading with my heart. By yielding to my resistance (that my purpose was misaligned, not valuable), I understood, by contrast, the clarity of my higher Self. Miracles (my in-the-middle-of-the-night encouragement and a successful gathering) of Source followed. The right seven people participated in the Sunday afternoon Me! Die? dialogues. One commented, It was a very rich, meaningful experience. A good beginning.

Inwardly speaking: Recognizing and acknowledging our resistant actions and behaviors allows us to move beyond them and witness our truth.

© 2015 in the thick of things

Trust the Unknown

My 148-year-old rocker was waiting for me. I sat down and began to focus on my breath, feeling its familiar rising and falling to a count of six. Relaxed and comfortable, I continued in this way until time seemed non-existent. I began to recall impermanence and how it touches everything in the universe except Source. This means that all energy and matter follows a cycle of life evolving into death. Nothing is exempt. Strangers, acquaintances, neighbors, friends, and relatives came to mind. The last category hit a nerve, as one of my relatives is currently experiencing a health crisis. My breathing quickened and became shallow. Keeping the same inhale count, I lengthened my exhale to a count of eight, which usually relaxes my sympathetic system (fight or flight reflex). This small change seemed to help.

I remembered the cycle of life evolving into death demonstrated in the forming and crashing of waves, changing seasons, planting and harvesting the garden, letting go of beloved pets, and even regenerating my skin cells. I know life moves to death, and the cycle continues to repeat. These examples were substantiated by experience.

Suddenly, something in me became highly alert. The words, Nothing is exempt, resurfaced. Wait a minute—I’m personally involved. I am matter and energy. My death is certain. Actually, each day I get a bit closer to my unknown expiration date. My body, mind, emotions, and Ego will die. Quick breathing returned, accompanied by a racing heartbeat and sweaty palms. I felt sick. I heard an insistent voice.

Ego  What is going on?

Higher Self  I am thinking about my own life into death cycle, my death.

Ego Why are you doing that? It will only upset you.

Higher Self  What you really mean is that thinking about death and dying upsets you because it leads to your demise.

Ego  Well, I don’t know about that (I can’t admit to HS, that s/he is right!)

Higher Self Thinking about death and dying in the moment helps me to figure out what really matters for living and to make decisions that count. I can be myself.

Ego  Decisions are up for grabs. If you don’t like something, just change your thinking. Besides, don’t you already know what matters? Trips, wealth, electronic devices, cars, boats, houses, travel, clothes—that’s what I say. The more, the merrier!

Higher Self  By giving myself time and going inward, I discover what truly matters and let everything else simply “be.” The things you just named are “stuff” and they echo appearances, not who I truly am. Without attention, the “stuff” will have no meaning.

Ego  That’s a huge leap—no longer focusing on things that have anchored decades of your life.

Higher Self  Yes, but love, kindness, generosity and service hold a deeper meaning for me now. Becoming these characteristics defines my living.

Ego  And what about me? Am I not important any longer?

Higher Self  I appreciate your guidance regarding safety. Yet, as I age, I choose simplicity in all things and appreciate the clarity of “being” over “doing,” of fewer regrets, and of less fear in losing control. My direction is sure. I feel lighter and happier. I Am remerging with Source, knowing that my essence is well-cared for.

Ego  I won’t be around, yet I admire your conviction.

As the awareness of being in my rocker returned, I realized that I had equated death with me. I felt slightly better, relieved that I had moved in the direction of thinking about death, saying “death” aloud, and exploring its meaning. I know that this is just the beginning of my dialogues. More questions need exploration. More wisdom is forthcoming. More acceptances are in store.

I am slowly realizing that I am more than my body, my mind, and my emotions. I Am the observer and what is observed all at once. My “being” affects the “being” of every thing. The rocker grounds me with love and support; its silent stories evoke warm memories. We are a lot alike, my rocker and I. We offer service in this plane, yet our essences radiate heart and care.

Contemplating my dying process and death is not a one-time experience. To create more awareness of Self, I return daily to learn greater understanding of this culmination of life, knowing that successive dialogues will be easier. Source gives me insights as I am ready to receive and digest them—all in divine order. I welcome these knowings and feel them with a full heart. Collectively, they are the vast unknown that I trust, beginning with the mysteries of arrival in and departure from this plane. Had I been aware of what birth would be like, I may not have chosen to participate. Yet, here I am, no worse for the adventure. Without resistance, hope unfolds. As in birth, death is a solitary proposition. People may surround me with great love, tenderness, and anticipation of the Beyond, yet I, alone, will make the journey. Opening my heart to death, little by little, I will continue to explore questions, being grateful for insights.

 

Inwardly speaking: Can you find examples of impermanence? This is Source’s way of showing you that death is part of the life of every thing. Death is neither bad nor good. It just is, a natural part of life. Say “death” and know that you don’t need to fight it.

 

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

No, Thank You!

My friend’s eyes grew three sizes bigger.

 

You’re going to do what? she asked in disbelief.

 

Paul and I are applying to become hospice volunteers, I answered.

 

Do you have any idea what you’re getting into? The work is draining and highly demanding, she continued. It’ll consume you.

 

Have you ever worked with hospice patients? I knew she hadn’t; yet, like many others who believed themselves to be excellent armchair coaches, she thought she should advise me. I feel it will be a special time of bonding and learning lessons for living.

 

Well, I can think of other industries in which I’d rather work. We’ll all die soon enough. Why would you want to be part of that time in a stranger’s life? It’s nothing but sadness, negativity, and drama. No, thank you! You would have to drag me to get me to even talk about death, let alone try to cheer up dying people.

 

When questioned about why I have chosen to volunteer with hospice patients, my heart and mind know that the dying have much to share. They are also highly authentic. Since I’m drawn to write and speak to end-of-life experiences, offering quiet presence to a dying person and family feels right. As a witness, I can take on another’s suffering so that space is made available for Source to do what is needed. It is a way for me to offer love, compassion, and service.

 

Yet, I did ponder this conversation for some time. As humans, we are constantly making assumptions, resulting in tightening our hearts. For example, when people make a statement that creates a question or intimidates us, we quickly think something is wrong with that person or that we don’t have the whole story. Judging is automatic. Egos must fill voids with something…anything, and that’s how misinterpretations become the norm. Anything outside of the morés of a culture creates fear, and choosing to be around dying people and their families is a choice involving an open heart.

 

Another assumption from this dialogue is that it is difficult enough to bear the suffering of a family member, but absolutely insane to take on the suffering of a stranger. What possible good could come of it? Self-centered, we can’t imagine opening our heart to a stranger who is suffering. Aren’t we pressed for time? Aren’t we thinking of too many things already? Aren’t we underqualified to take on such suffering?

 

There is a fear that talking about death will bring it closer to us. If we don’t talk about it, then it’s not happening. Believed not to be open for public or private discussion, death presumably lurks in the darkness of our lives. Yet it accompanies us in broad daylight. Take breathing, for example. Each breath that is birthed in us comes automatically without thought. We trust that it will be there, and it is. Each exhale of the breath is death to that stream of air. “Normal respiration rates for an adult person at rest range from 12-16 breaths per minute.” http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/ We experience the cycle of life and death of a breath at least twelve times in each minute—normality at its best. The predictable cycle of life and death is also demonstrated in deciduous trees. Leaves are birthed in stages from buds to flowers to leaves, only to change colors and fall to the ground months later. We can teach children about the ordinary life and death cycle when we care for a pet well into its declining years. Observing these cycles is a natural part of our growth. Death, itself, is instinctive and commonplace. It is with us from our birth.

 

Another assumption from the dialogue is that we go to the dying and their families to “cheer them up.”  We feel that we must do something and we’re uncomfortable when we’re not. Actually, we just need to “be,” as witnesses, holding space for the family and loved one to come together, to be transformed in gratitude, forgiveness, and love.

 

“I have been with a thousand dying people. The tragedy I’ve witnessed is not that life is impermanent or sometimes cut short, but that we often only see in hindsight what really matters. Sitting with others on the precipice of death offers us a view that is an extraordinary gift…It reveals both the precarious and precious nature of our life. It illuminates what is most important and reminds us that we don’t have time to waste.”

~Frank Ostaseski, “The Heart of the Matter” Workshop; Director of Metta Institute, Sausalito, CA.

 

Death is a legacy to our families, communities, and universe, and we vehemently reject it until we are cornered. Then, ranting and raving, we fear loss of control, the anonymity behind our labels, and expiration of time to pursue unfinished business.

 

Indeed, there is a huge, heavy elephant in the room, and all along we have denied it. Saying Yes, please! we turn toward death, talk about it, and feel that it is a natural part of our existence. In doing so, we accept this part of our life cycle. Overcoming strangled hearts and voices, we approach the elephant in the room, partner with it, and welcome the gift of transformation to our higher Self. We know who we are and arrive where we started. Home feels so good.

 

Inwardly speaking: Look for moments that the universe shares the life to death cycle. Breathe steadily and easily as you observe these moments, remembering that this cycle is a gift that helps prepare us to view death as a participant, rather than as a victim.

 

 

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

One Cycle Fits All

It is a natural and normal function within the universe. It is natural and normal for all energies. It is natural and normal for humans, being. The full cycle of emergence, existence, and dissolution (commonly recognized as beginning, middle, and end) is part of our DNA. We cannot escape, completely deny, or make it go away. Why, then, are we so resistant to embracing the cycle, especially when it is labeled birth, life, and death?

 

Let’s consider this cycle as it applies to our bodies, starting with life-giving breath. We don’t even think about what is happening with our breath. Breathing naturally and normally is automatic; we do not need to do anything. As humans, being, we have the comfort of Source breathing us.

 

Biological rhythms are another part of our internal functioning that operates on cycles. Affected individually by physical, mental, and emotional rhythms we personally observe fluctuations inherent in emergence, existence, and dissolution. Sleep apnea, jet lag, night shift work, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) are reactions to our unique biological rhythms. “People frequently talk about body clocks, a term that refers to the patterns of energy and exhaustion, functioning and resting, and wakefulness and sleep that characterize everyday life.” http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Biorhythms.aspx.

 

Many of our cells naturally regenerate at their prescribed rate. Stomach cells regenerate in two to nine days, while red blood cells regenerate every four months. Another example is a cut finger. Ten to thirty days covers the cycle of emerging damage, existing healing, and dissolution of the cut. On the other hand, the cells in the lens of our eyes never regenerate. We carry these cells (or deficiencies due to injury) with us for life. http://book.bionumbers.org/how-quickly-do-different-cells-in-the-body-replace-themselves/

 

A constant presence behind-the-scenes, this cycle doesn’t phase most of us until a major trauma occurs. Even then, we tend to dismiss the event, wondering why it had to happen in the first place. That is impermanence showing up, carrying with it another opportunity to be in the present moment, to accept circumstances. When we pay attention to the cycle at-hand and understand it to be a natural and normal part of daily living, we develop an attitude of ease. Resistance fades. Practicing acceptance when life does not go the way we expect will help us to live with less fear, anxiety, and insistence on control. In that space, we offer more love to ourselves and to others. Recognizing and understanding the cycle of emergence, existence, and dissolution is paramount to witnessing near-death, death, and after death experiences as a time of growth.

 

Time and time again, Source has provided internal examples of the natural and normal cycle of emergence, existence, and dissolution. Accepting this cycle in our living years will condition us to embrace our own nearing death experiences, the actual moment of death, and the after death experience with less resistance, denial, and fear. Let’s think of remerging with Source as passages of growth, love, and light.

 

We look forward to births and the “years of our becoming.” We express gratitude for safe passage, loving wishes for the unique unfolding of essence, fulfillment of passion and purpose, community support, and awareness of grace from Source. May we accept these aspects and align with them in death.

 

 

Inwardly speaking: May we be in life as we wish to be in death. Like the Phoenix from Greek mythology that finds its new beginning, leaving behind blazing flames (resistance) or simple decomposition (acceptance), we have a choice in spinning our legacy.

 

 

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

Lose the Models

“When I am with people whose greatest priority is the truth and work to let go of all that blocks their understanding, I don’t hear them say, ‘God, I’ve got to get my energy back; I’ve got to be someone in the world.’ Instead, they say, ‘I don’t have to be anything or anyone to be who I really am.’ It is a considerable insight for beings who have lived so much of their life, as we all have, in ideas and models of a universe of ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ that don’t exist. I see them touch the real. I see them become part of what is.”

~Who Dies? Stephen Levine, p.61

 

These words resonated at my core as I continue to seek the truth of who I am. Levine (1937-2016) was an American poet, author, and teacher of Theravada Buddhism. Like his close friend, Ram Dass, he wrote of his experiences, focusing on grief for survivors of concentration camps, of the Viet Nam War, and of sexual abuse. It was his reference to seeing the world through models that caught my attention.

 

Models of how we “should” and, at certain times, “must” behave, speak, and interact are all around us. Examples include “Minnesota nice,” horoscopes, self-assessment tools (Myers-Briggs, I Speak and many others), reputations, expectations of etiquette (social, business, sports, cultural), standards (college entrance test scores, technical certifications, professional continuing education credits, clinical and medical results), sales or other industry goals, and Profit/Loss balance sheets. Life seemingly cannot function without them, and Ego insists on their persuasive power: these are the realities of life, or what we think is real. Models are ego-related; our higher Self does not need them. How we interact, our futures, and who we believe ourselves to be are closely influenced by these models. That is, until they no longer apply to us.

 

Impermanence strikes. Change turns our world upside down. We are left confused, upset, and perhaps even defiant. Earlier in life, we allow our jobs, appearance, mobility, quick wit, achievements, possessions—everything external—to define us. Over the years, those patterns and emotions that we thought were constant and took for granted suddenly morph. Our careers no longer have the substantive severance and insurance packages we thought were in place. Upon waking one morning, we throw out our back. Invisibility comes to mind as we rarely are consulted on projects or walk down the halls of our workplace or town, unacknowledged. We are drifting into the background, not feeling revered as many Eastern cultures intend, and becoming a “has been.” Wishing for things to be other than they are, or resistance to the present moment, often leads to an immediate flurry of activity, the “over my dead body” attitude, of how life is supposed to be. Not me, this can’t be happening to me! I need to do something about it.

 

Feeling confused, we often rush to fill the void with the first answer, any answer. This makes Ego feels better. Having a plan also softens the effects of our not being able to live up to the models to which we are attached. When we are confused, we approach life through illusions and Ego, and not from the stance of our higher Self. We suffer.

 

This happened to me when I was working on my master’s degree. I had finished all of the coursework and had only the thesis to write. The assumption of my model was that there would be enough time and energy to complete this degree over seven years, even though I was a stay-at-home mom with two young children. Somehow I would get help, and my super woman presence would rise to the occasion. I felt like I had started this endeavor and I must complete it. Miraculously, I would get it done.

 

Although the program prerequisites remained the same over the years, my circumstances changed dramatically. Time ran out, and I did not finish my thesis. I felt like a failure. I let this feeling of failure seep into other areas of my life. It was hard to let it go, especially since I was inspired about the writing part of the program. Ten years later, I started another master’s program in leadership, but, by then I had a full-time job and four busy children. I thought this degree would be a sign of success because education held a premium value in my family of origin. Would it have given me a sense of accomplishment, happiness, or prestige?  Maybe. Would it have made a difference to Source or changed who I am? No. Looking back, Ego was definitely alive.

 

When change happens, we want to scream, Wait just a minute! I’m still here. I have something to offer. I’m a good person and I didn’t ask for this to happen. Yikes! It’s beyond my control. Many of us feel that we’re not going down without a fight! We take control.  Hiring a personal trainer and beginning a workout program; getting a new wardrobe, a new hairstyle, or taking a class; or traveling and expanding our knowledge become our go-to events. We resist, desperately trying to hang on and looking in every direction for help, bar one.

 

Inward?! We stare in disbelief. After rescuing our jaws from the floor and eating humble pie, we sheepishly focus on the realization that we, too, are impermanent. This is a rite of passage that everyone will experience sooner or later. The universe is not trying to sabotage our lives. We need to look within. Acceptance has not part of our vocabulary.

 

All of the “knowing” and models up to this point have not given our lives the level of love, meaning, or peace of mind that we have longed for. All that happens is that we end up grasping for other external satisfactions. If only we could stay in the present moment and gratefully accept who we are and what we have. And stop there. Contentment would surround us. Instead of a “Hail Mary” effort with our fingers crossed, our expanded heart and mind would experience triumph. Now is the time to practice acceptance see through illusions.

 

 

Inwardly speaking: What are some of the models, the “should’s,” “must’s,” “have to’s” that keep Ego in control of your life? What does the true you wish to be? Can you let go of just one model to open more space to be your authentic Self?

 

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

By Divine Appointment

In our busyness, we encounter many challenges, some mandatory and others, elective. However, none is as revealing or as life-changing as the exploration of our personal sacredness: the exploration of our soul. Walking this path is neither mandatory nor elective; it is by divine appointment and offers the choice for new awareness, contemplation, and vision. Untouched by the traditional measurements of time, subjective merit, or competitive scores, this journey requires times of committed solitude—a leveled playing field unlike any we’ve ever known.

 

Often, after the bulk of our earthly experience (somewhere around fifty-five), Source in its immense wisdom, nudges us with time and fills us with questions about our true nature. Deserving, loveable, and qualified in the highest sense of the cosmos, each of us, when we feel moved, can choose to embark on this journey. Our inner knowing will tell us when the time is right. Or, as the old adage states, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

 

Yet, this path may not be for everyone—it is a personal decision. Make no mistake, this arduous journey challenges everything we’ve believed to be real; explores the depths of our heart and mind, exposing emotional and potentially painful “stuff”; requires consistent “showing up” in the face of glitzy distractions; and necessitates the surrender of attachments and old habits—without arguments! Truly, we know nothing of this exploration and are not in charge.

 

Absolute trust in Source is fundamental because there will be moments when we feel like we’re moving two steps forward, only to stumble three steps back; moments when we are completely overwhelmed and want to give up; and moments when we feel that we have been abandoned. A refrigerator magnet verse captures this dilemma: Old age isn’t for sissies! Discovering our truth takes boldness and a willingness to be transparent; the journey to understanding our sacredness is not for the faint of heart.

 

Yet, taking this journey is highly gratifying and, ultimately, raises the vibration of the overall energy in the universe. It fosters connectivity among us. It is crucial to remember that Source loves and welcomes us, and that our soul is immortal. Our body is safe as we move toward the light of awareness. This exploration is priceless.

 

What might we encounter when we choose this journey into personal sacredness—who we are? Quiet ah-ha’s. Shocking illusions. Outright resistance. Denial. Forgiveness. Tears. Pieces of our history coming together. Acceptance. Laughter. New appreciation and gratitude. Immeasurable love and compassion. A new way of being. Because this path exists outside of time and space as we understand it, familiar navigation strategies are not effective. Pushing, forcing and striving simply do not work on this path. In fact, it is best to forget any tips, tricks, and workarounds that have been picked up along life’s way. Survival on this path is quite different. This is the way of new understanding, of “being.” It is a way to dissect truth and clarity from stories and illusions. Through perseverance we learn who we truly are.

Experiencing nudges from “out of the blue” and questions where answers are indistinct or seemingly non-existent are signs that it is time to embark. A dedicated space, a commitment to uninterrupted time, and the intention to begin cue the path. The search for our sacredness is always tied to the present moment, where life really happens. Repetitive action completed in a focused way keeps the mind from wandering. Walking, painting, star gazing, gardening, or peeling fruit are practices that help our mind override distractions. Without commotion, there is more space for Source to reside.

 

Now to the all-important question: Who am I?

 

 

Inwardly speaking:  Find some time and space where you can simply “be.” Are you hoping, wishing, or praying for direction? Do the same questions arise, almost haunting you? Do you have a burning desire to know? A divine appointment is calling you.

 

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause

fifty layers inward

Fifty blog entries since November! Opened to the awareness of Source, we are surprised, amazed, and perhaps even delighted to discover that an energy greater than we are is everywhere—confirmed by our senses—when we intend to be open to it. Our desire for awareness of Source, on a weekly, if not daily basis; commitment to stillness, and time to reflect on the concepts from In the quiet moments pave the way to a more meaningful life. The result is wholeness, body, mind, and Ego joined; genuine gratitude for our life and for those lives of others; and unwavering peace of mind. What could be better?

With this state of new-found awareness, what’s next? A natural segue is to turn inward and explore who we are and what gives meaning to our life. Exploring the layers of our life brings us face-to-face with the truth of who we really are. It may be the first time, in along  time, that we take deep breaths, sit without an agenda, and actually pay attention to our caffeine fix as it caresses our throat with warmth and comfort. It may be the first time that we realize the impermanence of things we thought would remain forever. It may be the first time that we question old stories and beliefs. It may be the first time that we contemplate what is truly important to us. And, it may be the first time we look at who we are beyond our labels. Continuing with our numerical theme, let’s explore fifty layers inward.

Our body is the most obvious place to start our inward journey. This unique presentation of intellect, desires, abilities, and personality is precious and special to Source. From birth to our twenties, our identity is derived from those with whom we connect on a regular basis: parents, teachers, and friends. We think. We interface. We communicate—all in a similar fashion. We are socialized beings, yet we are still works-in-progress, green to the art of controlled self-expression.

Our mid-years focus on three levels of body training: the external quest (toning the body), the internal quest (steadiness and ease of mind), and the innermost quest (compassionate spirit). Balancing these three quests helps the body to express its full potential in the areas of family, career, and community. Purity and sensitivity are key attributes to achieving human potential. Purity, generally aligned with internal honor and high moral standards, can also be defined by the external deliverables of compassion to see clearly, followed by specific action. Sensitivity is the defeat of rigid thinking (prejudice) and egotistical action in any situation (tyranny). [Paraphrased: Light on Life, B.K.S. Iyengar, p.24-25]

It is into our fifties that most of us become more financially and emotionally stable. We begin to assess our lives and determine what should come next. The state of our body is no longer taken for granted. Comparison and grasping for the next best situation is trumped by reflection. B.K.S. Iyengar in Light on Life, p.23 states, “Health begins with firmness in body, deepens to emotional stability, then leads to intellectual clarity, wisdom, and finally the unveiling of the soul.”

When we are in balance, our internal light is bright and stable; we meet the difficulties of life without increasing the drama around us. We accept the present moment, regardless of what it brings. Repeating this acceptance until we are on the upswing gets us through challenging times.

 

Inwardly speaking:  Over the next six months, you may discover fifty ways to leave the self you currently know. In doing so, you enter a sacred time of turning inward. You welcome a bit of withdrawal, silence, simplicity, peace and love that is understood. You begin to care for your essence in preparation to some day remerge with Source. The first step is setting aside time to calm your mind, then engaging in the quiet, and then appreciating the solitude.  Remember self-compassion as it may take multiple attempts.

 

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause