Here we are at 2018, wondering what we should aim for in the coming year. In the mornings I spend some time in conversation with my Soul, and this morning I asked, “What would you like for me to accomplish in 2018?” “Are you playing enough?” came the answer. “What you call Work should be…Details
Open Windows: Living with Energy, Meaning and Purpose Oakland, California Cool and Sunny, November 29, 2017 The way we live opens windows and calls in a secret voice to anything still missing.” Too Many Habits? “I have too many habits!” said my friend as we drove to a practice group meeting for people learning…Details
Back in the days when I was still in college and converting to Catholicism, I gathered the impression from my reading that I should deny all desires. Desire, or “craving” in Buddhist thought, was not only the root of all evil, it was evil itself. I dutifully disciplined myself to ignore anything I might like, and therefore desire. I was engaged in an experiment to see if squelching all desires would make me spiritual.
The answer was “No.” I didn’t become spiritual, but I did become stiff, wooden, unimaginative, and uncreative. Although my thinking mind was not impaired, my emotional capacity certainly was. My conclusion is that denying desire is turning off the flow of emotion and creativity.
Desire is necessary!
Desire is hardwired into our nature as human beings. The external objects of our desires will fade away and be replaced by others, but desire itself is always there. It is who we are. Desire, craving, is what motivates us in our life.
I thought I wanted to live in a nice, comfortable bubble. Good marriage, nice house, nice car, great children, vacations, everything “nice.”Details
Like the plum tree, we all have a few knots on our “I” tree where the branches have sharp turns. Many times we may not realize that our “I” is broken because we carefully sealed the break with anything from rubber cement to actual cement and then forgot about it. But now, we realize that there is a knot in our “I” tree, which is causing us pain. We want to uncover and heal that injured spot, but how can we do it?
Step #1: ACKNOWLEDGE – The first step is to acknowledge that something really happened. No excuses. Something happened to you or you did something to someone else. It was real. Dissolve the layers of cement and discover what sent your branch off in a new direction. Denial can never heal.
Step #2: LOOK – Really look at that branch from every direction, up and down, side to side, forward and back. No blame, no excuses, just look. Gradually, your perception will widen, your consciousness will stretch, and you will find yourself looking from a different perspective. Indifference may turn to sorrow, anger to compassion. Feel it, express it, write it. Your looking is bringing you healing.Details
Have you ever seen a Chinese painting of a plum tree? I used to brush paint plum branches when I was learning how to apply ink to paper with a brush and come out with something beautiful.
The Chinese plum tree doesn’t grow in nice, smooth, flowing lines. The branches are full of sharp angles and unexpected twists and turns where, for some reason, the tree has changed its mind and decided to grow in a new direction. At each junction there is a knob, a swollen spot, which looks as if the tree was trying to heal a break, a botanical broken heart. One might think that the tree would be made ugly by these knots, but, instead, it is beautiful in its angularity and has inspired painters for centuries.Details
“I want to get out of here! This is the 70’s all over again!” The year was 2004 and I was at a healing retreat, but it was a reprise of everything I had not liked in the 1970’s. In the 70’s, Esalen in Big Sur on the California coast, was becoming famous as a retreat center continuing in the tradition of Fritz Perls, the great psychiatrist and founder of Esalen. Groups promising emotional release were springing up everywhere and personal growth was in the air, but I, divorced with a full time job and four children, was having none of it.Details
Last month I talked about growing new leaves on our Soul-tree. But growing new leaves isn’t always easy, and sometimes our painstakingly tended branches may be clipped off our tree by unforeseen events. The Divine Gardener may have a different plan about how our Soul-tree will flourish.
Often we do not see the great Pruning Shears in the Sky coming. Our secure job may suddenly be eliminated, our spouse may decide that he or she will be happier with someone else, a new technology may come along which makes us obsolete. These are worst case scenarios, which we don’t like to think about, much less prepare for! My mentor used to comment on some new plan of mine, “That is fine, but what is the worst case scenario?”
The Master Gardener is shaping our Soul-tree into a magnificent bonsai by cutting and trimming and tying and twisting, We cannot know the outcome, but what we can do is Be Ready for the worst case scenario.Details
“I’m so vulnerable. I have no self-confidence and I cry all the time for no reason.” Tears filled the eyes of the young woman with long brown hair and plastic-rimmed glasses hiding her child-like blue eyes. We were at a retreat in Marin County in Northern California, where we were exploring “Transparent Communication.”
This person wanted to know what to do so as not to feel so exposed in her vulnerability. Yet she was a psychotherapist and her ability to access her own emotions was an asset to her in working with her clients. However, she needed to protect herself from her feelings. She wanted to be able to switch off her vulnerability.
“Grow new leaves,” I said without thinking.Details
Last night I was watching a special program about Judy Garland on public television. Judy’s role as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, which has become the myth of our time, was the introduction to the program.
Whether Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz or Dorothy Seeger, or some other Dorothy, it doesn’t matter. The story of “Dorothy” has become embedded in America’s collective unconscious as a tale of loss, search, and empowerment.
So I will tell you my Dorothy story. Some of you will find that it is very similar to your own. That is why I am telling it.Details