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Archive for the ‘Health & Healing’ Category

Thanksgiving 2016

This year is passing quickly.  The pace of global and national change is breath taking.

This week we have the opportunity to step back, take a time out, relax, refresh and connect with what is good and sacred in our lives.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”            ~William Arthur Ward

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul”            ~Henry Ward Beecher

This week I invite you to savor gratitude; to allow gratitude to embrace you, to comfort you, to enrich you.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

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Opinion

“…a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty,” a “personal view, attitude, or appraisal.”

We all have opinions, crossing the gamut of human behavior.  The current political climate has brought forth a divisiveness of opinion that is ripping at the fabric of national unity and personal friendship.  And, it appears to have all the earmarks of continuing well beyond election day.

It is a sad state of affairs when the greatest democracy in the world becomes so dysfunctional that the work of governing is deferred to immature squabbling; lacking civility and the willingness to compromise…to find the middle way.

Founding father Thomas Jefferson said, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

I invite you this week to consider the wisdom of Jefferson’s words.

opinions

Halloween 2016

The US will celebrate it’s second most commercially successful holiday on October 31.  Halloween candy sales exceed 2 billion dollars annually, with chocolate bars topping the list.

Jack ‘O Lanterns originated in Ireland.  Turnips were hollowed out to keep away the spirits and ghosts of Samhain (pronounced sow-en).

Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe.  They celebrated the harvest with bonfires, the sharing of ghost stories, singing, dancing, and fortune-telling.

The ancient Celts believed that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night, so they wore masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as humans.

Samhain is the celebration of a Pagan Shabbat honoring the ancestors who have passed before us, and marking the dark time.  Sunset on Samhain marks the beginning of the Celtic calendar.  The fear of Halloween is known as Samhainophobia.

Just a few interesting facts about America’s infatuation with Halloween.  Enjoy the festivities!

Halloween Jack 'O Lanterns

 

Stillness

You know the experience, (which is becoming rarer), of being in a place where there is utter stillness.  Like late at night when the crickets suddenly stop chirping and the sound of silence is deafening, if not alarming.

Pico Iver writing about The Art of Stillness (Experience Life, October 2016),  tells of his journey to find inner stillness.  He shares the insight of his boyhood hero, Leonard Cohen: “Going nowhere…isn’t about turning your back on the world;  it’s about stepping away now and then so you can see it more clearly and love it more deeply.”

Iver lists four practices that can can help one to reach a place of stillness:  “Be for Real”, “Take the Road to Nowhere”, “Unplug and Recharge”, and “Keep the Sabbath”, (Sabbath means ‘rest’).

There are many ways to find that personal place of stillness.  A few of my faves: leisurely cup of coffee in the early morning quiet,  working in my garden before the neighborhood awakens,  food preparation meditation, listening to music that relaxes me, and sitting quietly on the patio doing and thinking nothing.

I invite you this week to notice the behaviors you incorporate into your life to slow its often hectic pace.

stillness

Listening

In a busy restaurant, waiting for a friend, I people-watched; observing several  tables where the diners were actively using cell phones.  Not being together,  just sitting together.  As meals were delivered by the wait staff, most laid their phones down on the table next to their plates, and commenced dining.

Some conversation was exchanged (not many talked with a mouth full of food), but when a phone buzzed or flashed, many owners of said phones  immediately focused his or her full attention to the incoming message.  I was mesmerized by this ritual of ignoring; by the blatant disinterest with their present company.

Active, compassionate listening is challenge enough for 21st century consciousness; which is bombarded every few seconds with information.

We all have had the experience of being in a moment of sharing our day, our joy, our woe, our selves, our soul with a fellow earth-traveler, only to have them respond absently, distractedly, interjecting their opinion and advice, or, literally answering their ‘call-waiting’.  Sadly, we too, have likely been guilty of a similar response.

To actively listen, to listen with compassion requires us to be fully present.  Ben Connelly writes in “Compassionate Listening” (Experience Life, October 2016) about the Five Ways to Be a Better Listener: “Listen with your whole body.  Hear with your whole mind.  Know your own heart. Open your whole heart. And Let it be.”

There truly is an art of conversation, and the biggest part of being successful at this art…is listening.

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen.  Just listen.  Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.”  ~Rachel Naomi Remen

I invite you this week to listen.

listening

 

Mail Change

As many of you may be aware, we have been having difficulty with our e-mail delivery system.  My wonderful, tenacious Webmaster has worked tirelessly these past few weeks to find a workable solution.

As we make the necessary adjustment, you may find yourself being ‘unsubscribed’ from my weekly blog.  It is a product of making the repair.

I invite you to re-subscribe.  When I write my weekly blogs, you are in my mind.  You inspire me to create the best blog achievable in that moment.  Without your support, feedback and appreciation, the process would mean very little to me. It would be hollow, and my effort and energy would soon fade away.

YOU are the co-creative, active reading part of this experience.  I thank you all with my heart and with all my joy.

Thank you for your loving patience.

e-mail

 

Forgive

Forgiveness is quintessential to a life of peace and joy.  To forgive is a serious challenge; especially the act of forgiving ourselves.

I believe that forgiveness is essential to mental health.  But forgiving is not forgetting. Forgetting negates experiential reality and creates a repetitious play.  Forgiving is letting go of pain, trauma and angst.  To forgive allows wounds to heal; looking at our scars leads us to acknowledge that healing has taken place.  Without this process, we bleed into helplessness and hopelessness.

I found these quotes powerfully reflective of my attitude of forgiveness.

“It is not an easy journey to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.”    ~Tyler Perry

“The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”  ~Mahatma Gandhi

“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.” ~Marianne Williamson

I invite you to find the power to forgive.

Forgiveness

 

 

Feasting

It is the season for feasting.  The harvest is in full swing as are preparations to celebrate the abundance.  Sonoma County just hosted the Heirloom Tomato Festival, and the Sonoma County Harvest Fair,  good examples of public harvest celebrations.

Historically, feasting served many purposes: to display opulence, pay debts, frighten enemies, gain allies, negotiate war and peace, communicate with the gods, honor the dead and celebrate rites of passage.

A Sumerian myth dating from 3000-2350 BC relates the story of the god Enki offering butter cakes and beer to the goddess Inanna.  The Feast of the Blessed Sacrament that was created by four immigrant men to commemorate the festivals and sacraments of their Portuguese heritage continues as the largest Portuguese Feast in the world. (portuguesefeast.com).

Our Thanksgiving tradition is a good contemporary example of public feasting and harvest celebration.

Rites of Passage feasting is engaged regularly by all peoples.  Births, deaths, marriages, retirements, accomplishments, award ceremonies, are all feasting events, bringing together families and communities.

This week I invite you to bring greater awareness to how and why you participate in feasting; giving thanks for the richness and abundance we enjoy in these precious moments.

feast, harvest

 

 

 

Fall Equinox 2016

The spectacular Harvest Moon on Friday September 16 majestically heralds the coming of the Fall Equinox.  Reaping the fruits of our labor begins in earnest.  Storing and preparing for the coming winter can consume these precious moments.  It is important to pause and relish the beauty of the season.

In the garden, leaves have been yellowing on my beans for two weeks now, surrendering to the change of seasons.  Cold, crisp mornings melt  into afternoon warmth.

As heaven and earth mark this autumnal shift, I invite you to mark it also.   Celebrate the harvest and the beginning transition to the Solstice.  Bask in the last rays of summer; reflect on the passing of time; honor your part in the wheel of life.

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Risk

Paul Sutherland writes a column in Spirituality & Health (an awesome quarterly), called ‘The Heart of Money’.  In the Sept/Oct (2016) issue he responds to a reader’s question about risk.

He distills risk to it’s essential quality, “I think the biggest risk one can take in life is declaring to ourselves that we will live a spiritual life.”

To live a spiritual life is to know who you are, to live in the true or authentic self.  To live a life of intention; to know our strengths and weaknesses; to be responsible for our behaviors; to act without judgement; to trust the infinite intellect of perfect love that created us and the home we live on.

It is to know without question the depths of our soul, good, bad or indifferent; and be able to detach from our emotional investments.

The authentic spiritual life is one that finds acceptance, courage, inner peace and even happiness and humor in the most challenging of life’s circumstances.  This is no Pollyanna position, it is the capacity to be with what is, to accept what can’t be changed, to change what is mutable…to feel the agony and the ecstasy of the moment and respond appropriately.

I invite you this week, as we near the Autumnal Equinox, to take a spiritual inventory, and, if necessary, course correct.  Hence being prepared and centered to move into the fullness and beauty of the fall season.

spiritual life