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Finding Clarity July 25, 2009

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In order for abundance to flow, the body must be a clear, open, and receptive channel. Just as large boulders or rocks change the course of water flowing downstream, physical, emotional and mental barriers can alter the flow of energy in the human body.

Ever since I began the journey of self-discovery, I seemed to put most of my energy towards emotional and mental well being…cleaning out emotional clutter…letting go of old karmic patterns…dealing with childhood issues…you name it. As I peeled away layers of the onion, I received new insights, a more keen sense of awareness, and I got more in touch with my true essential nature. When I let go of the dark shadows, I began to shift in to a more peaceful state…feeling radiant and full of life. There was a sense of joy that filled my entire being and love emanated out from the core. I found more compassion and forgiveness for myself and others and I wasn’t so quick to judge.

The journey also brought a sense of mental clarity, as I began to work on mindfulness and things that once irritated me or left me feeling short and impatient, no longer affected me. I was able to tolerate a lot more ignorance and had a better understanding of how life worked and why people behaved in the manner they did. The world opened up to me and I became more in tune with the flow of life instead of paddling up stream.

The only problem was my ego was threatened by the spiritual growth so it tried to protect itself by rooting itself in human suffering, as the ego has a magical way of finding weakness to bring a spirit down and it’s typically through some kind of addiction since everyone has one. The spirit gets clouded under the vice of bad habits and suddenly the mind and emotions take over and you find yourself lost all over again. Instead of positive energy flowing through you, a dark cloud forms overhead and you’re unable to see the light because the physical body becomes blocked and it takes an extreme amount of will to see past it.

It’s easy to get stuck…to fall prey to old patterns…to lose your sense of self. It happens to all of us. One day we feel joy and the next despair. Often you don’t even know when it’s happening. You just wake up one day and realize you’re not totally happy with either your job or your relationship or life in general. I always know when it’s time for a little spring cleaning because my mind gets cloudy and I can’t see clearly.

The best way to get clarity on something is to detoxify the body of impurities and get rid of the noise in your life. This may mean taking a reprieve from the television or internet, not drinking alcohol, meditating, doing more yoga, setting yourself free from the daily ritual of caffeine, or taking a break from whatever other bad habits that might keep you from being centered and whole.

This is by no means easy, but a little spiritual nurturing will get you back in touch with what really matters. You will regain control of your life. You will feel centered and alive and whole again. The energy will begin to flow and your life will blossom, as you realign yourself with what really matters. As you feel more balanced, you will gain mental clarity and will be able to hear the soft whispers of your loving higher self.

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Meditating to Noise July 20, 2009

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There’s nothing more unsettling than the sound of a dog barking continuously because the owner chained the poor little guy outside and then left for the day. The yelping and howling a couple doors down superseded the soothing sounds of my Chi Gong alarm. Since there was no option to snooze, I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed earlier than I wanted. I went and taught a class and then came home to meditate, but realized as soon as I sat down, the barking prevailed. The mongrel was still at it and driving me absolutely insane. I couldn’t relax and my central nervous system was kindling. Normally I can drop right in to the silence and let my body settle with very little effort, but this morning was mentally taxing.

I typically use a mantra when I meditate, but not even the soothing vibration of the sacred Sanskrit word could settle my mind in to silence. I took a breath in and silently cursed cujo on the exhale and then I breathed in and said my mantra and then I went right back to wishing the dog would roll over and die.  The first 10 minutes were excruciating, but then one of two things happened. Either the dog took a short break or I completely let go and sank deep in to a place of silence because one moment there was nothing and then the next, the sound of the dog’s voice barking in my head again.

It took everything in my power to sit the entire 20 minutes, but it was a good lesson. Sure it’s easy to meditate when there’s silence, but isn’t it just as essential to be able to drop in to a similar quiet space amongst the backdrop of constant noise in our life? A regular meditation practice is definitely a reprieve from the mental chatter and external stimulation we face every day, but why settle for 20 minutes a day? Why can’t we incorporate the same philosophy to our every day life? The racket will always be there whether we want it or not so it’s about sifting through all the hullabaloo and focusing on the things that really matter…the things that bring us peace and make us feel good. Too much of our attention is put on the negative, the noise, and the chaos in our lives. Why not put more attention and emphasis on the other?

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Sweat Lodge Ceremony July 1, 2009

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I attended my 3rd sweat lodge purification ceremony on the Saturday before Summer Solstice.  I felt the turn of the season was a good time to do it, as sweats are a traditional Native American ceremony designed to purify the mind, body, and spirit. They help bring you to a place of balance within yourself and are a great way to find communion with Mother Nature.

One of the purposes of attending a sweat is for spiritual and emotional healing and growth so typically a person will fast for 24 hours preceding the sweat as a means to prepare the body for purification. While you physically prepare the body, you also prepare the mental and spiritual bodies by praying and setting intentions, as lodges are a healthy way to release baggage and a safe haven to seek guidance from spirit.

Rituals and traditions vary so each ceremony is a little different depending upon who leads it. The first two experiences were with the same guy so I was a bit disappointed when I found out he wasn’t running the 3rd, but trusted everything was in divine order and knew either way I would get whatever I needed. Out of curiosity, I asked him why he wasn’t leading and he told me his energy was wrapped up in something else and he didn’t want to perform the ritual unless he was fully present and committed to the journey of everyone involved so he entrusted the ceremony to a respected friend.

Another thing I didn’t expect were children to participate and although it was beautiful to expose little beings to something so spiritually enriching, their energy was very distracting because they couldn’t take the heat or smoke. They were in and out quite a bit and I could hear them moving about every time they stepped out for some fresh air. There were also quite a few people who were new so the heat was a little much for them. In honor of the children and those who were sweating for the first time, the lodge leader decided to leave the flap open for the last two rounds.

The reason the lodge was kept dark was because it represented the womb. The darkness was a symbol of human ignorance before the great awakening of spirit. It created a safe place for people to voice their prayers as the dark put aside all physical, spiritual and cultural differences. Since it wasn’t dark inside, I didn’t feel completely safe to recite my prayers and I found myself silently judging the distractions from the children and for the differences in how the ceremony was being run. I didn’t like the thoughts that were sub-consciously surfacing or how insensitive I was being towards the people I was supposed to love. What happened to the “one” mentality and who was I to judge and where was my compassion?

I sat with this for a couple days and finally realized spirit was just answering my prayers. Sweat lodges are known for bringing issues to light and one of my intentions for that evening was to release myself from the steady stream of unyielding judgments that ran through my sub-conscious.  All the irritations I was feeling had deep meaning, as they made me realize what I still needed to work on.  The spiritual journey isn’t always as we expect so it’s important to be open because you never know when someone or something is going to cross your path for the purposes of awakening your consciousness.

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