Categories
inspiration Making Changes self-discovery

The End Is The Beginning

Choosing a new direction into the unknown.

If You Find Yourself at the End of Your Rope…It Might Be a Good Thing

The word I hear bandied about is “surrender.” Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of surrendering. I’m not really sure what that word means in relation to the path of awakening. I’ll have to fumble forward to find my own way of “letting go.”

Once every seven years or so, I get to the point where I just want to scream obscene epithets from my terrace railing. Since I’m not a big fan of being arrested, I’m able to contain myself.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t keep the dam of frustrated emotions from spilling into the lap of some innocent bystander. I feel like I’ve done everything that can be done to accomplish my goals and my efforts are bogged down like German Panzer tanks in the snow on the Russian front.

The funny thing is,unlike the German Army in 1942, I find it possible to actually get somewhere when I reach this point. In one sense, it’s a scary place, a place of desperation, a feeling of being at the end of my rope. But I’ve found it can also be the beginning of something better than the orbit I was in. You might call it a breakthrough to a higher altitude, if you don’t mind pedestrian metaphors.

When I have looked in every crevice and corner and turned over every stone in search of the faintest glimmer of light—the light is usually not very far away.

There comes a time when human effort is met by something that looks like chance, but it is not chance. Some people call it Grace. Some people call it luck. I call it proof positive that persistent effort, and faith in myself and the universe, will unlock the door to whatever my heart truly desires.

Sometimes I think I want something that turns out to be only a construct of my mind.  I’m chasing a phantom with no real substance. Sometimes I overestimate my abilities, and I set unrealistic goals. However, if what I want comes from deep within my heart, I believe nothing can stop me from attaining my heart’s desire.

One of the good things about advancing age is that it makes it easier to focus on priorities. I mean real priorities—the meaningful stuff, because the clock is ticking, louder and louder. There simply isn’t time to screw around with trivialities and dead ends. I’ve been everywhere, done everything, made a fool of myself, and accomplished a few goals. You might say I’ve grown weary of missing the point. I want the real thing—the beauty within my heart—and I know it can’t be far away.

To illustrate my point, I’m reminded of a crossroads I reached earlier in life.

The Easiest and the Hardest Step in Breaking Out of Old Patterns

Walking Towards an Unknown Destination

It’s one of the most frightening passages life confronts us with. What we’ve been doing doesn’t work anymore. We’ve come to a fork in the road. One fork leads to the known. The other one leads to the unknown.

I had spent my entire career working in a family business. My father and my uncle built the business. They passed away, leaving the next generation in charge. My father and uncle expected me and my two cousins to continue where they left off. In theory, my cousins and I had the education and the experience to handle the transition seamlessly. Except we didn’t share a vision for the future, and I frankly couldn’t stand one of my cousins.

After several futile attempts to carry on as expected, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I did not foresee the business flourishing with the three of us at the helm. I decided to sell my share of the business to my cousins. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make.

Up until this fork in the road, my life had been structured from the outside in. I had done what was expected of me. Now, it was up to me to structure my life from the inside out.

I have found this wise old saying to be very true. “When one door closes, another opens.”  To express it another way, letting go of one thing leaves room for another. The scary part of navigating this passage is enduring the empty space left behind in the wake of releasing the known. We are normally left with only a tiny kernel of an idea; a faint voice whispering beneath the clatter of every day life.

I had always dreamed of writing fiction. From a solid background in marketing communications, I began writing short stories in my forties. While still employed in the family business, I took online courses in screenwriting at UCLA. I learned the basics of character development, drama, conflict, and plotting. I used screenwriting as a bridge to my main goal: Writing novels. After selling my share of the business, I now had the time and the freedom to pursue the dream.

Part of me thought I had gone mad.  That part turned out to be dead right. Logically, what were the odds of finding an agent and a publisher? It’s not something to think about when writing a first novel. Trust me.

I discovered that writing a novel is a very lonely process. I was accustomed to interfacing with all kinds of people in business. Now, except for a few friends, wife, daughter, and mother-in-law, I was completely alone. Doubts and fears assaulted me. I figured real novelists enjoyed their solitude. I kept thinking, real novelists are self- sufficient artists. They can take or leave people. All they need is their cats or dogs. Maybe this is true.  All I know is I’ve managed to write three good screenplays and three good novels since taking the fork in the road that leads to the unknown.

There are certainly ups and downs mucking about in the unknown. I have to say, though, that it’s more interesting and rewarding than steady doses of the known. It’s actually fun to travel back and forth between the worlds of the unknown and the known.

Let’s take writing this article to illustrate my point. When I began, I only had a vague idea of what it would be about. I did, however, have the definite intention of writing something that would be of interest and benefit to you and me. So, what is my point? Here it is: Nothing happens if you don’t take the first step. You’ll stay stuck in the same rut, and that’s no fun. Have the courage to adventure into the unknown. Trust yourself and the talents you’ve been given. Nobody gets rich, creates anything meaningful, or finds a deeper source of happiness following the crowd.

 

Categories
Poetry self-discovery

What If We Made Life Simpler and Less of a Struggle?

Out of Your Mind Science series. Background of spiral of human silhouette face line and abstract elements on the subject of consciousness, the mind, artificial intelligence and technology

What if consciousness became curious and created this world, including you and me, simply to have the pleasure of experiencing itself?

What if consciousness had already created millions of worlds and dimensions before this one for the same simple purpose?

In other words, what if we owed our existence to the natural tendency of consciousness to expand and play?

If this is true, then why do we take ourselves so seriously?

If consciousness wants to have pleasure and play through us, then why is there so much destruction and suffering in the world? Do we bring most of it upon ourselves? It seems the answer is self-evident?

What if we found a way to make life less of a struggle?

If we opened ourselves to the love and joy that must exist somewhere within us, what do you think would happen?

Categories
Poetry

Radiant Flower

Meditation Lotus Tranquility Peace Beauty Radiance Joy

Flowing through my heart

the sounds of life everlasting

Pieces of Truth

I am unaware of

The thief steals my joy

and I am alone

to face the stars

and the consequences of my life

Why does this happen

in crazy spirals

over and over?

Things could be so much easier

if I would only let them be

Where are you Radiant Flower?

I ask my heart for the answers

and they do not come

Then, without notice,

the answers come in torrents

like waves crashing on the shore

Later, I am alone again

without the armor of love to protect me

And then, I remember

The Radiant Flower blooms

when I want it to

with every cell of my being

And then, to my surprise,

I see the Radiant Flower has bloomed

once again

Categories
Fitness Folk Guitar Health inspiration Music wellness

Is There a Silver Lining to Corona?

Silver Lining

Can there be an upside to something as horrible as the Coronavirus?

Well, maybe.

While I (we) can’t ignore the tragedies and hardships CV has visited upon so many of us, I think it helps to realize there have also been benefits that will accrue to everyone who makes it through these troubling times.

We all have goals of one kind or another. Some are easy to accomplish, like a “to do” list of daily errands. The ones that are higher on the food chain of goals are more challenging. They require more effort, perseverance and imagination.

What if I told you the CV pandemic made my higher goals easier to accomplish?

Grant me a few more paragraphs to explain.

Since the pandemic began, I’ve taken the mental pressure off of myself. I’ve cut way back on what I expect from myself. As a result, I’ve been more creative, more productive, and I’m having more fun.

In other words, the stay-at-home Covid lifestyle gave me the perfect excuse to slow down and relax. I’m guessing many of you have had a similar experience?

Here are a few examples of what I mean.

First of all, I’m not pursuing happiness with a vengeance. I don’t feel the self-imposed pressure of making myself or someone else happy. I’m just dealing with the Coronavirus situation one day at a time. I’m keeping it simple. I’m not forcing myself to be active. I’m not running around all over the place trying to “do something meaningful with my life.”

As a result, I’ve been working out more than I usually do. And I’m doing most of it at home rather than trekking to a gym somewhere. I’m saving time and energy. I’m in better shape. And guess what; I’m a lot happier than I’ve been in a long time.

Secondly, I’ve had a creative renaissance. I’ve dropped the “shoulds,” the “ought to’s” and the guilt. I’m not thrashing around thinking; What are you going to write today?  What, no ideas? How can you be so empty and lazy?

Instead, I’m not worried about writing anything. And voila. The ideas are coming to me spontaneously. The idea for this post came to me unbidden. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But it wasn’t happening. Now, I’m enjoying writing this stuff. It’s not torture. Imagine that.

On to music. My music. Well, it’s not exactly my music. Plato said; ““Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” That’s a nice quote. I especially like the part about music giving life to everything. I feel the truth of it.

I enjoy singing and playing acoustic guitar songs by my favorite artists. When I get them down “just right,” I record and post them on my blog and on Facebook. I do it because I just plain like doing it. Since I’ve been happier lately, I’ve been doing it a lot more. And I’m downloading inexpensive tutorials to learn exactly how an artist like Cat Stevens plays a song I like. It’s fun and a good way to improve the old guitar technique.

I’m hoping some of this musical joy will rub off on my friends.

There are so many other silver lining stories like this one:

A personal trainer friend of mine told me she has increased her income and clientele by offering her coaching sessions online. She is no longer bound by geography. And she saves time, energy, and gas money with online sessions. Now that gyms have re-opened, she can do sessions online and in person.

I have to give some credit for my new-found happiness to the spiritual community I participate in. There are now nourishing online events I can attend almost every day of the week. It gives me the focus I want and it has helped me to be more grateful for what I have in my life. These community events, which started out as online support for the journey through CV, will now be extended beyond the Covid period.

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” We are responding by developing creative solutions to the CV crisis, both individually and collectively. So hang in there, and find the silver lining shining through the clouds every day in your life.

 

Categories
Do-It Yourself Fitness Health welness

How to Easily and Inexpensively Create Your Home Gym

Nordic Track Recumbent Bike

In These Difficult Times It’s Essential to Give Yourself the Opportunity to Workout at Home

It’s surprisingly easy to set up a home gym. And you don’t have to be a millionaire to do it. Public gyms are not safe right now, and it might be awhile before you can work out in a public gym without risking your health and, let’s face it, your life. So here are some simple steps to help you create your in-home gym.

I’m talking about an affordable gym with just the basics.

The first thing you will need is a stationary bike. These obviously come in various shapes and sizes as well as price ranges. You might need a spinning bike. You might need a recumbent bike if you have back problems or if you desire more comfort than a standard bike can offer.

Prices for exercise bikes will range from $500 to $2,500. I bought a very good Nordic Track recumbent bike for $1,000. While this might seem expensive, I’m looking at it as a long-term investment. As well as protecting my health, I’m saving time and energy working out at home. And, it’s very likely I’ll need my home gym if there is a second wave of the virus during the summer or in the fall.

Be prepared to assemble the bike when it arrives in a carton. I found the hardest part about assembling mine was opening the shipping carton and getting the parts out. They sure don’t want those parts to break. If you buy an upper-end bike like a Peleton, chances are a team will come to assemble your bike free of charge.

If you can’t live without a treadmill, you will have to cough up at least $4,000 for a decent treadmill. Hopefully, you can live without one (unless you have big bucks).

The next item on your shopping list will be exercise and stretching mats. If you don’t have back problems, you can probably get by with a single padded mat or something like a Gaiam 5/8 inch thick Yoga mat. Gaiam is a trusted and reliable supplier. They make quality products. I’m not getting paid to say this. Honest.

The exercise mats I use are six-feet long and two-feet wide. I’m using a padded mat plus two Gaiam mats for reasons that will remain unspecified. The point is, you need to protect your body. Don’t be afraid to use extra padding. Your body will appreciate it and treat you better in return.

The Gaiam mats I mentioned sell for $17.00 each. It’s a great price for an outstanding product. The padded mat I bought cost $37.00. The Confidence Fitness Mat I bought to put under my bike cost $42.00.

You need a mat to go under your bike or treadmill to protect the equipment, your carpet or floor, and yourself from your wife’s ire over messing up the house. If you aren’t a married guy, you still need the mat.

Next, you’ll need some free weights. You don’t need many sizes, unless you happen to be a serious body builder. I bought a pair of 10 pound and 15 pound free weights. I have achieved better results by doing more reps with lighter weights. I discovered this by accident when my gym closed down. I couldn’t get heavier weights so I tried lighter ones. I’m never going back to heavy weights.

Heavy weights can cause all sorts of injuries and they aren’t a whole lot of fun to lift. If you’ve been lifting heavy weights for a while, I’m sure you have the aches and pains to corroborate what I’m saying.

If you like bulging muscles, you won’t agree with me. If you want good definition and reasonable musculature, I’d recommend using lighter weights. The two pairs of weights I bought cost $165.

Yes, good free weights are expensive. Read the reviews for any free weights you buy. Customer reviews helped me big time to buy the right weights.

And that’s it. You’ve achieved some independence by setting up your very own home gym. My gym cost a total of $1,245.00 USD. You can do it for less. If you like company and extra motivation, sign up for online spinning, full workout, and Yoga classes.

You’re good to go. Hope this helps.

 

Categories
inspiration

Heart Awakening: Where Is My Joy?

“The Sun in Your Heart is Rising.”

Saniel Bonder

I’ve been working towards a spiritual awakening for most of my adult life, and it seems  I’m on the brink of a promising development in my growth process.  There are many paths to “higher consciousness” and many kinds of spiritual awakenings.  In fact, each of us is destined for his or her own unique awakening.  For the past five years, I’ve been involved in something called “Waking Down in Mutuality.”  WDM is a path that nurtures an embodied individual awakening through energetic transmission and various forms of study and group participation.  There are no gurus.  It is not a cult.  The people who help other people to awaken are teachers and facilitators.  There is no hierarchy.  There is no dogma.  There are no “shoulds” or “oughts.”

The chances are that you’ve never heard of anything like WDM.  You’re not alone.  Less than one percent of the world’s population is interested in transformative spiritual awakening.  You may be wondering why I’m interested.  The answer is simple:  I want to experience more peace, love and joy in my life than most other pursuits can provide.

Thanks to the evolution of consciousness and the opportunities and modalities provided by WDM and its close relative, Trillium Awakening, I don’t have to be a monk or a saint to awaken.  I don’t have to destroy or surrender my ego.  I can just be me, whatever that is.   I don’t have to separate spirit and matter.  I can live a relatively normal life while opening myself to the treasures of the Heart, every chance I get.

Recently, I’ve made a discovery.  It’s a big one.  It’s really more of an experience than a mental concept.  I’ve realized that self-worth ultimately has nothing to do with accomplishment.  Equating self-worth with achievement is a trap that most of us fall into.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with striving to accomplish things, or to be a better you, or in getting better at whatever it is you do.  It definitely feels good to get things done and to improve.  As an example, I enjoy the feeling of writing this.  It feels good to create something new.  But writing a best-selling novel will never give me the deep down satisfaction, wholeness, and completeness that my heart craves.  This type of satisfaction can only be found buried deep within my heart.  The same is true for you.

I’m not sure where I’m going from here, but I’m confident it will lead to more and more happiness and self-satisfaction.  It won’t happen overnight.  What’s important is that it’s happening.  As WDM founder and spiritual teacher Saniel Bonder likes to say, “The Sun in Your Heart is Rising.”  That sounds pretty good to me.

 

Categories
inspiration Poetry Stories

Full Circle

Am I supposed to quietly fade out of existence, like a blinking star or a guttering candle?

I am hurtling too fast down this ramshackle track of aging.

Is there a ghost town waiting for me over the next hill?

As the train emerges from the tunnel into the twilight, I can see rows of gravestones rising at awkward angles out of the dead leaves and high grass of the cemetery.

Stranded, as my loved ones leave me here—alone—I wait, like a beached whale thrown up by the sea, for the next wave, which does not arrive.

I feel too much like that beached whale.

Night falls.

Cool breezes replace the heat of the cruel sun.

A stranger walks alone on the beach.

Has he come to push me back into the life-giving sea? My whale flesh feels cold and dry to his touch. He peers into my dull blue eye.

I wonder if he can see the young whale swimming. Once again, in the ocean of pure consciousness.

 

 

Categories
inspiration

Towards An Unshakable Foundation of Peace

Waiting for a connecting flight from San Francisco on my way home to Fort Lauderdale, I look around me at the faces of my fellow early morning passengers. The feeling of happiness within me contrasts sharply with the reflections of dulled spirits I see sitting row after row at the departure gate.

In defense of my fellow passengers, it can be argued that even the hardiest soul has a difficult time smiling at the ripe hour of six in the morning with nothing to look forward to besides a long, cramped flight in cattle-car-coach. Yet here I am, feeling a sense of contentment so overpowering it compels me to share it with a young lady sitting two seats away. We enjoy a pleasant, meandering conversation before going our separate ways.

By all rights, I should appear as glum and bored to the other waiting passengers as they appear to me.  I’ve logged barely a few hours of sleep thanks to a five AM wakeup call. Yet I feel so alive and awake it seems like a miracle. My spirits soar like a nimble 757 jumbo jet taking flight from a short runway.

Let me assure you: I’m no stranger to boredom and depression. And I most certainly don’t feel this happy all of the time. What I’m feeling this morning is the direct result of attending a weekend retreat with Saniel and Linda Bonder.

Before I discovered Waking Down in Mutuality, now co-named Trillium Awakening, happiness had become an increasingly elusive commodity. I had my own ideas about where to find happiness, all of them external, and I pursued each and every one of them with zeal. And then the zeal began to ooze out of me like a rubber raft with a big hole in it. Fortunately, before all of the air in my psychic tires escaped into the ether, I had my first introduction to finding happiness and peace within me.

Thirty years later, my path took me in another direction. I discovered a local group on MeetUp. The group description that captured my attention went something like this: “You don’t have to be a saint to awaken to consciousness. You can awaken as yourself, right where you are. Not in a hundred lifetimes. Now.”

Eventually, I discovered to my surprise that people in this group had actually experienced an awakening. Hundreds of them. It was’t just talk.

That was eight years ago. Since then, I’ve been nurturing an inner experience that is  alive and real. I haven’t had an awakening yet, but I’ve experienced more peace, joy and, love in my life than ever before.

And, most recently, I’ve had an opportunity to bathe in this experience almost on a daily basis. Thanks to the Trillium organizers and volunteers, daily online gazing and meditation sessions are being offered, free of charge, to support people through the coronavirus crisis.

The major life goal that remains for me now is to realize in greater depth an unshakable foundation of joy, peace, and love waiting to be uncovered inside me. You may be thinking, “give me a break.” People have told me your goal isn’t a goal. It’s nonsense.

I disagree.

I believe it is possible to experience peace, love and joy on a consistent basis, and radiate it out to others. Not every moment, of course, but certainly more consistently than every once in a while.

It is said that what you can conceive and believe, you can achieve. As Saniel and Linda Bonder often say, “The Sun in Your Heart is Rising.”

 

 

 

Categories
inspiration

Hidden Treasure

 

There are things in this world that promise satisfaction, and we launch into the quest to have these things thinking: “Wow, if I had that, I’d be happy. I’d be fulfilled.”

What we actually find is the dream turns into eventual disappointment. Because the gratification that accrues with the attainment or acquisition of something outside of ourselves vanishes, as if it were never there to begin with.

But if you were to find what you truly needed, then your satisfaction would remain and increase over time.

Because this particular satisfaction evolves. Your understanding of it deepens.  Your experience of it intensifies.

When you finally grasp, at the core of your being, that “what you seek is already inside of you,” then your inner peace, love, joy and fulfillment begin to truly blossom.

Then, you can begin to enjoy every aspect of your life. You don’t have to become a monk. You don’t have to wear a chastity belt. You can be “you” more fully, more expressively, and more powerfully.

When you know all of yourself, then you will be at peace with yourself and the rest of the world. And, when you find your inner treasure, then you will have something of real value to give to others.

Categories
inspiration

Becoming a Human Light Bulb

 

Light bulbs, by definition, radiate light. I’m told that we humans are essentially comprised of light. So, it follows that I (we) are radiating light all of the time. The truth is closer to this: I (we) constantly radiate something, but it isn’t necessarily light. What we radiate depends upon the inner reality that I (we) cultivate.

In my case, meditation helps me to cultivate peace and therefore I radiate a peaceful vibration. But thoughts also come into the picture. Thoughts affect emotions which influence moods and demeanor. So, it pays to cultivate the kinds of thoughts that contribute to the transmission you want to radiate as a total being.

I’ve found that the key to positive thoughts is to have something joyful or pleasurable to look forward to. It’s best to make whatever I (we) look forward to something that contributes to wholeness and well-being. Activities such as snorting cocaine or abusing alcohol are not recommended. Discretion is definitely suggested on the path to becoming a human light bulb.

It helps to find a source of light and bathe in that source daily. Light sources come in various shapes and sizes. Each of us has his or her own version. The one thing light sources have in common is that they all inspire us, and most importantly, THEY ACTIVATE THE LIGHT WITHIN US.

Believe it or not, light is much more enjoyable to experience than darkness. It would be wonderful if the news media, for example, discovered this simple truth. These days, most of the material coming at us does not support our whole being or wellness, to put it mildly.

If you haven’t already, find your light source. Find a whole bunch of them if you like. Change your light source if you’ve outgrown it. Whatever you do, take some time to bathe in your light source daily. Bathing in light every day increases your joy. That’s a promise. The most advanced ones among us have found their light source within them. Good for them. We all are destined to do it sooner or later.