Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Value of an Empty Mind

Isn't your mind mostly full, most of the time? Mine is. I run the to-do lists. Think about the family calendar. Think about what someone said recently or something I heard on the radio. I am always in a conversation in my head. I challenge you to become aware of your thoughts over the next 24 hours. Spend a day watching your thoughts and see what you see. I think you will be surprised how busy your mind actually is!

One thing I notice with my kids in school this year (after homeschooling for Grades 1-3), is that a big chunk of their day is filled with filling their minds. Facts and processes about letters, numbers, nature, art. "Listen. We're telling you something. You need to know this to make it in the world." This is the message schools give.

But here is the problem: The incessant chatter inhibits another whole level of thought processing.

An empty mind is a beautiful mind. Instead of having to focus on a task (listening to someone talk or working out a problem linearly), an empty mind can engage in more abstract thought and take illogical jumps from one place to another. Achieving an empty mind takes time. It takes s l o w i n g down and that's hard. Lately I have to take a whole day. It starts in the morning with time keeping my body busy- washing dishes, running, driving about the town running errands. Then I eat lunch and make some tea. My living room couch has often been my place to slow down my mind. I put on some mind-numbing music. The kind that acts as white noise to the myriad of thoughts. Something with an om or a repetitive beat that acts like a trance.

The state of an empty mind is a trance; a form of meditation; an altered state of consciousness. It's not simply daydreaming. From this place there are other ways of experiencing thought. The conversations at this level of consciousness are not about the physical world or the network of society. It's a slower pace or as some might say, a higher level of vibration. This place is a whole new world. From here creative thought-- the form of original ideas can happen. From this place I can take stock of my life and see what I want to change or appreciate. From this place I can connect with spirit and flow freely in a universal pool of love.

Children need this too. For a child, the empty mind means a chance to ask her own questions. To explore how things work and how things could work if there were no laws of physics. It is a opportunity for creative expression, but also a chance to connect to a larger space and place- to hear her own guides and know her place in a world beyond this one. It's like connecting to home at a soulful level.

To often we think that a full mind, a busy mind, is a productive one. Well that's not true. An empty mind has it's own kind of productivity: it fills your emotional cup, connects you to your larger sense of being and allows you to just simply be- right now, loved and valued for you.

After you watch your busy mind for 24 hours, I challenge you: take an hour and *allow* your mind to empty out. No immediate acting on good ideas. No TV. No directing meditation CDs. I would suggest rhythmic and repetitive music though. Just allow your mind to empty. Don`t push on it. Don`t pull. Just let it be. Remember to set your intention to have this empty-mind experience, but not fall asleep. Start with sitting up. Then just let the thoughts come and then let them go.

When you feel a conversation starting, get a pen. Write down one or two words or more if they come to mind. Play and see what happens. This is the place of your intuitive voice. This is the place of a new experience in the way of being.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The right life

What is the most righteous path? How is the best life lived? What makes a good life?

I imagine these questions being asked by a breathless, sweaty climber who has reached a guru atop a rocky mountain. Yet, as reflective beings, we do ask similar questions in our day-to-day life. Without the drama of the high mountain climb, in our cars or in the shower, we ponder: what is the right life? The questions may look more like:

Should I stay home with my children or return to paid work?
Is it better to stay in the safe job with an employer or take a risk and try something new?
Am I happy in this relationship/ marriage?
Should I be tough on my teen-aged child or be compassionate to his/her struggle?
Can I tell my mom/ dad/ sibling/ boss how I really feel?

Of course there are many more questions where we wonder what is the *right* choice.

I recently struggled with a decision about what steps to take next. Should I pursue teaching spiritual circles and focus my efforts on getting more people to come? Or should I continue in the paper-pushing work of getting clinical social work status and taking a few graduate courses? Or should I work away making some money with less loftier aims and primarily focus on the needs of my still-young-but-not-for-long daughters?

I struggled with feeling obligated to my spiritual teachers. I felt that if I have been taught one or two things spiritually that I *should* share the gift. It is not meant for me alone and so I must pass it on. However, I am not ready, in many ways, to focus my efforts on spiritual teaching full-time. I am worried about making a business sustainable and I fear I might not be successful.

This is what happened to me during this time of struggle:

Talking to an indecisive woman about to have an abortion I heard myself say: There is no judgement. There is no *right* choice here. If you choose this path (in her case have a 4th child), your life will look like this. If you choose this other path (in her case have an abortion), this is how your life may look. This is the burden of choice. How your life is created is up to you. This isn't about who is inconvenienced by your choice, this is between you, God (however you understand that term) and your child.

So read that paragraph twice. First there are the words to a woman who is scared she will hate herself if she aborts her fourth pregnancy/ child, but at the same time feels overwhelmed with three small children already. This alone is profound and meaningful.

The second time you read it, it's a message to me about my struggle: what is the right life? Here is the answer:

The right life is the one that you create.
There is no obligation.
It isn't about who is inconvenienced,
it's about you, God and your child*.

(*The feel of "your child" is implied to mean my role as mother,
but also the implication to future generations- do no harm.)

So now then... what is the right life for you?

Well, that's just it. There is no *right* answer. Live with an open heart and hear your own wisdom. You know the answers. There is only love. When you get past the fear, obligation and sense of lack there is no struggle. You are the creator of your life.

With love,


Monday, January 17, 2011

The Empowerment of People

Here's a quote I heard on The Munk Debates on CBC the other day:

We are the first generation of the world who know what the cure for poverty really is. The cure for poverty has a name and it is called: The Empowerment of Women.

If you could give women some control over the rate at which they reproduce...and take them off the animal cycle of reproduction of which nature and some religious doctrines condemn them... the floor of everything in that village- not just poverty, but education, health and optimism- will increase.

It doesn't matter. They tried it in Bangladesh . They tried it in Bolivia. It works. It works all the time.

~ Christopher Hutchens.

I wrote out a lot of what he said so that the quote has context. Clearly he is talking about women in the poorest parts of the world. I was so moved by the first part of the quote though:

We are the first generation of the world who know what the cure for poverty really is. The cure for poverty has a name and it's called the Empowerment of Women.

It's moving because the broader message is the empowerment of *anyone* will cure poverty or bring a greater wealth. Give people the authority for their own being and there will be more, not less.

I think of this on a physical, but also energetic level. When we *own* all of our being and we stand firm in our boundaries knowing truly who we are, then we are wealthy.

And from this place we are- just in our way of being- allowing others to be energetically wealthy as well.

There is a teaching about shapes (1). Basically, think of each of us as carrying our own shape (for example, a square, circle or triangle) and when we engage with another we are looking for a reverse, but complimenting match (picture two puzzle pieces).
In this we are energetically requiring that person to be something we need and they are doing the same. This happens without our conscious awareness most often. It is the foundation of all interactions and it is fundamentally why we like this person and not this one. It's the extent to which "our shapes match." Shapes don't fundamentally change from interaction to interaction. Shapes are stable, but they can be left behind as person engages higher levels of conscious awareness.

This is an abbreviated version of the teaching. Imagine these examples as a way of understanding our enslavement to these shapes and their impact on our interactions.

First example: you're having a bad day and you act in a way to try and get others to feel as bad as you. You are rude or grumpy or try to pick a fight with someone. That's you holding your shape and trying to get another person to take on the reverse but complimenting match. If someone does this: that is, gets as stressed and angry as you are, it will relieve the pressure you are feeling. We have all done this at some point.

Second example: imagine a cashier, who playing her part as a smiling customer-service representative, is engaging you with friendly chitchat. All social norms about the interaction demand that you perform a part. You are expected to engage about the weather or the roads etc. She is trying to fit you into a particular pattern of interaction and if you don't engage, you are rude. She wants you to be happier from the chitchat interaction and then she will have done her job as the smiling customer-service representative.

Third example: think of that couple you know who is like this. She is always so sweet and helpful- very nice. You almost never see her angry. He is the kind of guy that leaves people walking on eggshells. He is abrasive often and sometimes intimidating. He is not a bad guy necessarily, but he has a sternness to his manner. You can imagine that he is someone you would not like to see angry. In terms of shapes, he carries for her all the anger that she won't express and that allows her to be the "nice" one. She carries for him all the vulnerability he can't express and allows him to always be strong or feel in control. This is the epitome of the shapes engaged.

These are simple examples to demonstrate a point. Now back to the quote. So what happens when a person holds their own energy and they are empowered to be their own authority?
They have a control over who they are. They own their Self.
From this place a person isn't a slave to obligation or the nobility of suffering and lack. From this place a person can be all of who he or she is and not confined to a role and a stuck pattern.

Let's revisit the examples.
From here, the angry person stands alone in that anger and feels it. Just feels it for what it is. What is the message of the anger? Is it that someone has taken your power? Are you feeling obligated to behave in a way that you don't want? The anger becomes a source for power and not something that needs to be passed on down the chain of authority as is classically the case.

In the example of the smiling cashier- what happens when the cashier just stands in her own energy in a *real* way? Instead of trying to force the chitchat, she makes a small complaint or expresses her true feelings: "My feet hurt. How are you?" "I'm worried about getting home in the snow." From here the person as the customer has the freedom to be or feel what they want. This can be reveresed too. When the cashier is smiling away artificially, the customer can ask a real question and have a genuine interaction. What energetic richness that is!!

In the case of the couple-- this too often describes most of our closest relationships. There are patterns that we adapt. After learning the shapes teaching (in more depth then presented here), I laughed when I saw how our "soul mate" is really the person with whom we share the most compatible dysfunctions. We match because we carry for each other that which we are unable to carry for ourselves. And it is here that the white board work (a.k.a. Accipo) really reveals all these patterns we carry.

So often we are forced (we believe) into being and behaving in expected patterns. We may feel we have no choice (as the quote said: "forced into the animal cycle... of which nature and some religious doctrines condemn them.") BUT, we are not forced by nature or religion. We are only the victims of our own minds, our own values and our own beliefs. The best thing about this is that *we* can overcome our own minds. This is all within our power.

To me there is no higher principle then self- authority. You are responsible for you. The cure for energetic poverty has a name and it is called the empowerment of people.

With love,


(1)From "A Mind for Mastery"- unpublished manuscript by Ellie Hernon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. ~ Gothe

I have been talking to people lately about how they are planning for their next steps: their FUTURE. Most people work out logical plans for steps to take to get to what they want. It's a planning process that looks like this:

My goal is to have a summer home on Vancouver Island.

First step: go back to school.
Second step: get a job where I make more money.
Third step: get money to buy summer home.

So, when you ask this person: "What do you want?" Their answer is: "I want to go back to school?"



What they really want is the summer home on the Island. So, why not start there? Why take these long routes around?

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it!
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

This is the difference between planning and manifesting. Planning has a goal and steps. Its path is seen from Point A to Point B to Point C and so on. There is no room to maneuver and wiggle and change.

Manifesting isn't a series of concrete steps. To manifest something, you hold the focus of your intent in an elevated state of consciousness (1) and then you simply let it go. That isn't to say that you do nothing toward your goal. Of course you do, but you don't hold it tight in your fist.

Imagine a child holding a beautiful butterfly. To love it intensely and try to possess it, is to kill it. To release it, is to love it with grace. This is the way to love your dream.

Here is an example from my life. I used to weigh more than 250 lbs and smoke. (Oh, so unhealthy!) I was about 18 months into doing circle work (1) and I reached a place where I was able to hold "health". What I mean by that is, I had both the state of consciousness and the focus to be a healthy person right now.

But, I was still overweight and smoked. I didn't appear any different from the outside. What had changed is that I was no longer: "the smoker" or "the fat girl." Like taking off a coat, I was able to shed those identities. Now I wore the identity of "healthy person."

I was able to shed those identities because I was living with a different state of consciousness. I was able to gather the multitude of fractured intentions within my self and hold a singular focus. From this place I was the new person: "healthy person" and from here it wasn't nearly as difficult to take that weight off. Healthy people rarely weigh that much so I didn't need all that extra padding on me now.

That was 2007. Four years later I have long since given up smoking, lost 100 lbs and I run for fun. I could never have done that if I wasn't able to wear the identity of "healthy person."

Back to the example of the summer home. If that is what you want, are you able to be that person now? Can you hold the place of "I am a person who owns a summer home on the Island."

Does that sound pompous to you?
Do you hold a belief about people who have a lot of money?
Do you hold a belief about how you are able to come to such luxurious things?
Do all rewards have to be proceeded by hard work?

Hmmmm... if you think that rich is inherently bad and that only work will lead to good things (and even then, not too good, just moderately good), how will you ever be the person who owns a summer home on the Island? You will only ever be the person who struggles to be that wealthy.

So, take a moment and think about the thing you want. The thing you truly want. Are you a person who can hold that?

And if you are: begin it! Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.

And if you are struggling under the weight of that desire, come in. This is the work we can do together.

With love,

(1) From A Mind for Mastery (unpublished manuscript) by Ellie Hernon.
Spiritual counesling information here: http://www.pointonthepath.com/