2 BENEFITS OF SPIRITUALLY GOING PALEO

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Image provided by Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives

 

The truth of any teaching can never be found in the words. Rather, the truth is found in that which is revealed inside our own selves. By exploring in this way, we make the teachings our own. And by making a teaching our own… we come to awaken to a view of life that is whole and unified…and addresses the deepest yearning and longing of the human heart.

Adyashanti

 

I so want to consider myself a mystic. I’m always looking for that next burning bush, while ignoring that my left foot is on fire. Can’t see the tree, for looking at the forest. I want to have a positive impact on the world. But, the true point of impact is the fundamentals, not the polished product. I have learned this again and again and yet, the lesson is far from over. When I am trying to accomplish a lot, I focus so intently on the finished work that I literally lose myself, and lose these critical benefits in the process:

 

DIRECTION AND PERSPECTIVE

I can’t accomplish big things, if I can’t even accomplish little things consistently. I must remove all the fluff, drilling down to the most basic level first, before doing anything else.

If I don’t put my spiritual life first, my entire perception of everything and everyone becomes skewed.

I am a person of words, but words can and often do lie. In his wonderful book, Falling Into Grace, Adyashanti posits that the reason for human suffering is that we believe our own thoughts.

My thoughts are just a story I tell myself. If I don’t make my time with God my top priority, I start to live in the story, instead of the truth. I have a story about everything: the past, the future, and my motivations for doing what I am doing. I even tell myself a story about my spiritual time:

“ It’s something I have to do, or God will be mad at me.”

“ I need to master the art of prayer and read scriptures or books about prayer.” Well, that’s just the enemy telling me another story.

It is best to start my day with God, before things get too far afield. Otherwise, I will take off in the wrong direction going 200 miles an hour until l hit the wall and finally collapse. My time with God can be 30 minutes or 3 minutes— it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t have to be fluffy or perfect. My prayer and meditation time is where I find the fount of truth, which becomes, freedom, insight, purpose, direction, energy and inspiration. It starts out being like spiritual broccoli, how I get my antioxidants. But, soon it becomes the most pleasurable part of my day, because it leads me to:

 

IMG_2925AWAKENING. I get out of my head and my stories, and focus on what is true, and what is happening right in front of my face or even in my own beating heart right now. There is no truth, or happiness or peace or love living in my head. It is happening in this very moment. I even tell myself stories about the truth, wanting it to be bigger, something I can’t miss, like a neon sign. It isn’t.

It is amazing how often the truth for which I search is hiding in my own body. I drive and drive myself, ignoring the evidence. Am I sleeping and eating well, in other words, treating myself like I matter? If not, why?   What am I feeling? Is fear or resentment from the past driving me? What is my true motivation for the present course I am charting? Have I been feeling sick or tired for a long time? What is the story I’m telling myself about this? Is it even true? The evidence is not just physical: it is spiritual. Something is off. My life is skewed and out of balance and the cure is not driving myself harder, but drilling down to the Paleo: finding the truth in each and every moment. It is far from easy; it is peeling an enormous onion, but it is the seed from which everything else grows.

 

DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING. SIT THERE!

 

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My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

Albert Einstein

 

God speaks to me in metaphors because it is the only thing I understand. Every year, I go to a retreat at Laity Lodge to get closer to the Creator and his creations and foster the creative process in myself. Usually, I am presented with a lesson or several on the last day. I offer this, for what it may be worth to you.

I had been feeling severely depleted and removed from my Higher Power due to some serious and ongoing personal crises, aka life. I just wanted to hunker down somewhere and hide and try to find my center again.

I found a cool spot on the footbridge facing some waterfalls and situated myself where no one could see me.  I tried to get still and quiet, but the beauty of it all was too much. I tried to catch the 4 big waterfalls with my iPad camera from every angle, but they didn’t show up.  I got up and changed position, but it didn’t work. I resorted to my phone, because it had a zoom, and I figured I could capture the beauty and crop it after the fact.

Finally, I gave up and sat back down. I resumed staring at the falls. As soon as I did, a 5th big waterfall came into view.  I don’t know how I missed it, but I did.  This sent me into a new tailspin. I began to try to capture the 5th fall with my cameras; it was the biggest one! This effort to capture a moment was even more fruitless and frustrating than the last.

Slowly, I realized the sound of tumbling water was coming from more than 5 places. My eye was drawn, each in turn; to 3 other small falls spewing from the rocks.

The lesson just kept coming.  I tried to capture these new, hidden sources of flow with my camera, but they didn’t materialize either.

I looked around again at my surroundings, paying attention and noticing two additional falls staring me in the face. This was getting ridiculous!

All of these sources had been there all along, biding their time. Not waiting to be revealed, but waiting to be noticed.

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I ‘m always trying to capture the infinite and reduce it to a sound bite. But, then it disappears. This is complete insanity on my part, but we all have those moments of craziness, when what we are trying to accomplish for ourselves, for others, or even for God completely takes over our thoughts and makes us completely lose perspective. What is required at this moment of lunacy is to sit there and do nothing, reconnecting with our Source of infinite peace, intelligence, wisdom, love.

The Infinite Source is magnificent, but not necessarily glamorous. It is like the support girders that keep our national highways humming without falling down. We are supposed to keep driving: not stop and take pictures of them as we make our way down the road. Imagine what would happen if we did! Well, that is exactly what does happen in each individual instance of mini-crazy. We go off- course and can stay there until we can stop long enough to check our direction. I can veer dramatically off course before my feet even hit the floor in the morning.

Perhaps, for me personally, the best thing I can do every morning before I bounce out of bed is to simply ask ” God, what are you going to show me today? What’s my lesson? Please help me to see it and receive it.

This is when being a storyteller can be a less than good thing, because I’m so excited about relating the miracle, the blessing or the lesson, that I don’t give it time to sink in. Hopefully, next time I’ll just sit there for a while and take it all in.

PEACE IS INTERSTELLAR

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Each moment has its life and its death; otherwise, existence is impossible.

The Tao.

 

I saw the movie, Interstellar, last night in IMAX and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a Sunday morning, and I should be in church, but I am still thinking about this movie instead. I keep thinking about how so many seemingly random and unrelated things in this movie turn out to be inextricably intertwined and, in fact, dependent each upon the other. I keep thinking about the vast number of spiritual parallels to this theme.

The film is almost indescribable in its artistry and overlapping themes, but David Brooks of The New York Times writes a stunningly beautiful review of the movie entitled, Love and Gravity, that is, I think, a work of art in and of itself. In his review Mr. Brooks points to the movie pointing to this interconnection of seemingly mutually exclusive things: science and faith, and science and our love for each other. In fact, they are intertwined, and faith and love become their own field and dimension.

And so it is, I think, with Peace. It can be a super- power, but it is dependent upon and intertwined with so many other things. Like the movie, it is dependent on our attraction to and seeking out of something or someone out there we cannot see, who spans time and space, generations, life and death—a God who is invisible but is still reaching across time and space to be with us. It is impossible to connect with him if we don’t extend ourselves to meet him. That is the cosmic, fun side.

There is also the mundane side of peace– muscle memory. Peace is a practice.

I suffered a brain injury as a result of a car accident about two years ago. I am now ok. Before the accident, I was a fairly accomplished pianist and was in a band singing and learning the guitar. I lost my memory of how to play these instruments. Because I lost the intellectual memory to process these things, I didn’t even try. Because I didn’t even try, I lost the muscle memory. When my intellectual memory of the chords and notes returned, my hands and my voice would not respond to the commands. Once I just started moving my fingers it was terrible at first, but within a couple of weeks, the music began to sound like something a human being would want to hear. I played a tape of a friend singing to teach myself to sing again. I thought that regaining command of my instruments was dependent on my mind but it was dependent on my love for them and their need to be played.

Peace is like this. If I wait for it to just happen to me, I won’t experience it. To have peace I have to surrender to the partnership with my unseen creator, and for that to happen, I have to practice being mindful that there is a partnership It is dependent on my love for my creator, his love for me and my ability to practice this, if only for a few moments a day. Peace, and the lack of it, is related to control, powerlessness and fear, but especially self worth and humility.

I can’t have peace if I am afraid of the future, regret the past, or don’t approve of myself. I can’t get rid of these afflictions unless I practice peace. I can’t cure my mind and it’s ridiculous thought patterns with my mind. Back to the partnership and the eternal dance.

THANKSGIVING DAY REBELLION?

turkeyblog

 

Thanksgiving Day is everywhere, but it isn’t.

I know this is a frantic time of year, and Commerce is King. But, can it not be king for this one day? Can we have one unadulterated, unaltered holiday? Can retail workers be re- assured of their humanity and value for this one day? They already work through the Christmas Holidays, every holiday, and every weekend. Can that be enough?

We all know it has gotten way out of hand. Forget the 12 days of Christmas! We now have the 60 days of Prozac. There is a daily Holiday Sale, beginning with Halloween.

Christmas ads and merchandise appear simultaneously with the Halloween costumes and candy and we become frantic at that moment without knowing why. None of us are happy to see this Holiday Creep, but it strikes us like a virulent virus, spreading from us to those we are in contact with. The hysteria lasts until every gift is bought and the Christmas turkey is nothing but a picked-clean carcass. During this period, Thanksgiving isn’t even mentioned except in conjunction with Christmas shopping.

Thanksgiving was the holiday that offended no one, except turkeys. Every person could understand the desirability of a day of reflection and Thanksgiving and participate. But, it has been watered- down beyond recognition. We need this one day, for family, food, football and the absence of a frantic frame of mind, to get ourselves ready for the holidays to come.

Can Thanksgiving Day please retain at least some of its original meaning; a day to pause, reflect on our blessings, enjoy our families and give Thanks? Can retailers not dictate the content and timetable for this one day?

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Here is the thing: True Thanksgiving cannot be achieved while running full tilt. Hurry and competition is the enemy to an attitude of Thanksgiving, which requires calmness and reflection. I for one am sick of it.

Bravo to the brave retailers who are allowing their often underpaid employees to be with their families this one day.

Can we just be content with massive sloth, gluttony, family and football—the things I remember from my childhood Thanksgivings– without feeling compelled to engage in hand – to – hand combat with our neighbors to get Frozen Barbie?

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I never have nor ever will set foot in a retail establishment on Thanksgiving Day. I may not have many absolute limits, but this is one. I do not for one minute believe that closing for this one day is going to put any retailer in jeopardy, especially, with Black Friday coming the next day. I believe that giving us all – employees, and customers, a day off can only produce blessings. I understand not everyone feels this way. If you care to, join me in the rebellion.

LET GO OR BE DRAGGED

 

( Why and How to Meditate, If You Can’t Sit Still)

 

All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quiet in a room alone.

Blaise Pascal

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Having the attention span of a gnat, I find traditional meditation practices impossible.

This writing attempts to give a practical real world answer to the two questions most of us with short attentions spans would ask:

1) why should we attempt to martial our million –mile- an- hour- thoughts for even the briefest of time, and 2) how on earth is it even possible?

The answer to question 1 of this conundrum came from a bit of very popular culture, my favorite TV show, Scandal. I heard this sentence and it really got my attention. One of the characters said,

“ True power hides in plain sight. It is subtle and doesn’t’ swagger.”

An arguably evil fictional character spoke these words, but it started me thinking of how true they really are.

Real personal power cannot be acquired by sheer force of will or intellect. In fact, if we are in a mess and don’t seem to be able to get ourselves out, it is our best thinking that landed us here.

True power comes from the Source of all power, and that is never ourselves.

My thoughts can race out of control like a quarter horse on speed, circling around and obsessing about a problem, a goal, an anything, until I’ve made it worse.

It’s time to let go, or I will be dragged. The harder I clench down on a problem and focus solely on it, the more I will be dragged away from any possible solution.

The reason and the method are one in the same:

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us, and the power to carry it out.

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It doesn’t say we have to do this perfectly. It says we have to improve. We have to try. It also doesn’t say we have to be a cleric or a mystic to do this. We have to only seek the God of our understanding. He will do the rest.

The simple answer to the question of why is so we can let go of this world just long enough to link up with the divine world and remind ourselves that it and He is there, waiting for us to ask for help. Improve conscious contact….

 

The answer to how? Seek to improve conscious contact. Seek him.

All we have to do is let go of turmoil and questions, unclench, and seek our higher power for a few minutes, long enough to open ourselves to our power source and receive his infinite power, infinite love, wisdom, discernment and everything else that is good.

I have such admiration for those who can place themselves in a meditative trance for an hour, who have prayer closets that they visit regularly, or who write in their journals every day.

But, we don’t have to do that. I can’t do that.

For me, it is enough to go outside, sit in the sunshine, and listen to the wind chimes on my front porch for a few minutes. If the weather is bad, I have a meditation playlist on my iPhone that contains popular songs that inspire me. Some are worship songs. Some are not. It isn’t important what anyone else thinks about what they mean. I get what God is trying to impart to me. By letting go and listening periodically, I can keep his word and his will in my heart.

It is NOT easy, but it is simple and it is worth it. Anything can be a meditation or a prayer. A walk, a song, a journal, a wind chime. They key is finding one that works for you.