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Water is Sacred

“Water is sacred. It is the first medicine. Without water there would be no life.” These are only a few of the statements and teachings about water that were offered by the Native American Elders I’ve been blessed to encounter.

Their reverence for water compelled me to view my use of water in a whole other way. Prior to their teachings I had not given much thought to water and its role in my daily life, let alone the impact of water on all of life. I would say much of my limited awareness was related to water always being there. In my corner of the world water was clean and easy to access. What would happen if that changed?

Right now in the United States there is a major threat to the purity of water. Indigenous people are gathered to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) because it threatens water sources, including the Missouri river. The same people who are implementing the DAPL have already had a devastating spill in another area.

The protesters have been maced for their stand against the pipeline. One journalist was brought up on charges of trespassing for reporting what is taking place there. Those charges were thrown out by the judge, but those gathered still face fierce militant opposition.

I’m writing to bring more awareness to the issue of safe water. Think for a moment how life would be for you if the water was contaminated, or if it were not freely available. What would you do without water?

We can all offer our support of clean and free water. Please take time today and in the days that follow, to offer thanks to the water. Pray in whatever way is yours and if you don’t pray send a thought, that the water always be pure and freely available not just for yourself but for all of life. I ask that your also send love and peace to the those gathered to protect the water. Visualize a quick and peaceful resolution that protects the sacred water for “without water there is no life.”

Aho Mitakuye Oyasin

 

 

The Importance of Ritual

All around the world and throughout time people have been engaged with ritual. Whether these ceremonies are elaborate or disarmingly simple they play a vital role for the human psyche.

Ritual allows us to step out of ordinary time. We pause and connect to something much larger than ourselves that also dwells within us. During ritual we seek the stillness that encompasses all. In essence we are creating a conscious awareness of the sacred.

This cognizance is easily observable in shared rituals such as: marriage celebrations, baby showers and even with funerals. Communities mark events as important by creating a formal way of acknowledging and experiencing that revered connection. Some rituals are done alone and may not be visible to others. Praying the rosary or lighting a candle can be solitary rituals.

Regardless of how many people are involved or the intricacy of it, ritual gives us space to offer our celebrations, our gratitude and our hope. It has the power to calm us and bring us to our center when chaos holds sway. The promise of returning to such a dwelling is why ritual continues to be practiced in its many forms.

If you don’t already, give yourself permission to incorporate ritual into your life. Discover some that resonate with you or create your own. Let the practice of ritual direct you in entering the place where connection, peace and hope reside. You will be glad you did.

The Shoulders We Stand On

I’ve been giving some serious thought to a concept shared with me many years ago by a Native American Elder. They said, “We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.” At the time I likened this to my upbringing that taught, “respect your elders.” I did my best to honor and care for them.

Interestingly, the teachings continue to deepen and unfold as you move through life’s cycles. This specific one has returned to me as I look around and observe life today.

Surprising to me is the realization that I am now one of those who has the next generations standing on my shoulders. From my place in life, I also see at least two generations living here on whose shoulders I stand, so do you. Recognizing that I have new ones standing on my shoulders has prompted me to look at myself and my life.

I’ve wondered what kind of foundation I’m creating for them. Will they be standing firm and strong or ungrounded and shaky? Is there a recognition of the beauty that life holds? Do they feel a part of a healthy community that values each being? Are they respectful of all life, including Mother Earth and her creatures? Do they feel supported in their endeavors? Are they growing and blossoming? Is the world they inhabit one of kindness? Do they see with eyes of compassion? Can they say that they love and honor themselves? Are they happy and wanting others to be happy too? Do they offer gratitude for what life has given them?

In all honesty, I know that there is work to be done for them to thrive and make the world a better place. That work starts with me and with you. Let’s observe how we are in the world and how we are with ourselves. Is there room for improvement within us?

My plan is be be kinder, smile more and share of myself in a compassionate and loving way. Additionally, I can teach what I’ve learned by living it each day. I will strive to create an open environment that supports and encourages the next generations, two of which are here for me.

Perhaps you have more or less in the way of the next generations living here, based on where you are in life. In truth, we all have responsibility to the future generations for our actions because we are shoulders that they will stand upon. Together we can bring joy, love and beauty to them by our conduct today. I invite you to join me.

We Are Powerful

We’ve been sold a story. It goes something like this: you are small, you are weak, you’re just one person, what difference can you make? Besides you are unworthy, you’re too this or not enough of that. You’re broken, a victim, so shut up, stand down, be submissive and struggle through.

The main intention of this story is to draw attention to our powerless over our own lives and over the events taking place in the world. If we believe the prescribed narrative we spend our time focused on our lack or smallness. In doing so we become saddened, frustrated, depressed, angry and hopeless. Our individual realities grow bleak as does the world’s condition. This particular story goes round and round upon itself with never a happy ending.

Fortunately, that story is false! It was concocted to keep us from remembering our truth. Pulling away the veil of illusion, we see clearly that we are powerful beyond measure! We are strong and vital. We effect change every moment by virtue of our being here. We are whole. Our bodies are made of the same substance as is contained within the stars of the Universe. We are indeed magnificent!!!

Claim your power now! Use your voice, stand up and be bold. Think about what is right and just for all. Let compassion, love, hope and kindness be your guides. You can offer these and like qualities silently or with actions each day.

Set intentions for the world through prayers, meditations, or with wishes. Focus your mind, heart and emotions on what you’d like to see for all. Send it out into the world with love. Start and end your day in this way. Know that it will be made manifest.

Quick, tell the others.

 

Finding Bliss

Thoughts on finding Bliss: 
Today’s treasures are not to be missed.

Splash, whirl, dance and play,
Celebrate with abandon this special day.

Release your burdens for a time,
Take my hand, as together we climb,
And reclaim all that is sublime.

There will be time to drink from life’s bitter cup,
But today let bliss take you and lift you up. 

 

What If…Musings

Today I have been occupied with “what ifs”. Rather than allow my mind to take me on an aimless and futile journey; I called on my inner wisdom to direct the introspection.

The following “what ifs” are not unique, new or even original. They have been around as topics of contemplation and discussion for millennia. I offer my thanks to those who have introduced them, studied them and sought to apply them to their lives.

And now the musings. What if the Universe really does have my back? What if everything I need is always provided? What if all I have to do is ask? What if this moment is perfect? What if there are signposts to guide me along the way? What if beauty is love and love is beauty, as my dream the other night revealed? (Note: I define beauty as the representation of the Divine.) What if we are all one? What if the world is headed to a more peaceful existence? What if the assistance I seek is already present? What if I am the one I’ve been waiting for?

The list could go endlessly on, but what if I take the time to reflect upon each one currently listed? What if you did too?

I could have listed other “what if” questions that take me into doubt, fear or anger. Instead, I decided where to focus my awareness. My experience is defined by wherever I place my attention.

On this day, my choice of “what ifs” gave me an consciousness of the magnificence of life. I discover unity, compassion and faith when I come from my inner knowing. The key I believe is perception.

 

Create more Light, more Love, more Laughter!

I did not arrive at today’s post by saying, “I feel fabulous! Today I’m going to write about sunshine and rainbows.” Nope; I’ll hold onto that topic for another day. Honestly, I’m writing about creating more light, more love and more laughter because my attention has been drawn to the anger I spew into the world.

Just yesterday I was headed down the road when a car traveling at a high speed nearly clipped me as I started to change lanes. Thankfully I saw her in time and corrected. She continued on her way while I screamed, “Bitch, slow the fuck down!” She drew alongside me just in time to see me finish venting my rage. At the same time I looked in her window she was waving a hand and saying, “Sorry.” I watched as she continued weaving in & out of traffic never once modifying her speed.

Where was I headed? Oh you’re going to enjoy this one! I was on my way to yoga class. Yeah, we’ll get back to that in a minute.

About a week or so ago I got up in the morning and there were dirty dishes piled up in the sink. The counters were disgusting! I live with other people who work outside of the home. This wasn’t the first time this has happened. The house standard is: if you cook dinner for everyone then the other people clean up. That morning, as I’ve done in the past, I got angry. I cooked dinner so there was no way I was going to clean up too! I fumed. I told myself I wasn’t going to do them. I started to blame and judge those living in my house who left the kitchen a mess. I began to fall into a victim role thinking things like; “just because I’m home they expect me to do it.” On and on.

Then something shifted. I started to see that dirty kitchen in a whole new way. I thought, “I’m going to clean this up for me. I want a clean space.” I put on some music and started scrubbing. While doing this I was peaceful. The anger, resentment, judgment, etc. had all faded away. I began to reflect on how fortunate I was that I had loved ones with which to share a meal and living space. I began to offer gratitude that I wasn’t alone or lonely. I expanded that to include having plenty of fresh food and water to consume.

Once the kitchen was clean I left for yoga class. On the way there I reflected on the how differently the morning turned out. You see, in the past the kitchen scenario played out as I described but I never shifted my awareness. I carried the anger around all day. I stewed and held onto my anger and righteousness. In fact, I cultivated it until I talked to one of those people I lived with. Then it came out. I slammed them with it and punished them. In essence, I created a wedge between us and I felt justified. What this mindset really does is allow me to hold my anger close while distancing myself from other people.

I thought about my relationship and impact to the whole. What influence or effect does my anger have on the web of life?

I look around and see so much violence, so much judgment and tension in the world. I see people bashing each other in the political realm. Today, I even saw someone comment that they thought a post about taking a contract out to kill a person running for President was funny. Really? When is it ever funny to imagine killing someone?

It is not okay to project anger onto others for any reason. Just because they look, think, act or believe differently from me is no excuse. Diversity is expressed nearly everywhere in life; just look around you to perceive that truth.

The day I attended yoga class after shifting my perspective on the dirty kitchen, at the end of class my teacher said to the room at large. “That’s the thing about yoga. It teaches you to see the places of darkness within you. Then you have the choice to change it.” I agree.

Even though a little over a week later finds me screaming at another driver on the way to yoga class I keep working on the insights I receive. That’s the thing about a spiritual path, it keeps reminding you where your work resides until you fully integrate the lessons. Every spiritual path is meant to grow you in this way.

And so I ask you, where is the darkness within you? Is it possible to shine the light on it, offer love to yourself and others and laugh over your past antics? Will you join me in committing to creating more light, more love and more laughter in the world? I deeply hope you do. The world needs us. I need you. Peace.

 

 

Healing Takes Many Forms

I had the opportunity to write an article for Kajama, an online magazine. The article is on healing. To view the full story follow this link: kajama.com/… Featured Article September 30th. Blessings!

Mid-Winter Celebrations

Today is a day celebrated in many cultures as the mid point between winter and spring. There are a variety of rituals and celebrations that are held both in the spirit of hope and in an invocation of welcome.

Today is significant because it is at this point that the ancestors took time to both acknowledge their journey and fortitude in surviving the long winter and to look toward the coming spring. This pause gave the people time to show their faith that they would see the spring arrive once again. Spring meant that the earth would wake up and the land and her creatures would grow and produce which equated to life for the people.

The ritual ceremonies allowed the people to participate in honoring the cycles of life. I imagine they felt that this celebration was vital in bringing forth the spring and renewal of life. They saw themselves as a part of the whole of nature not separate from it. On a practical note, the preparation, ritual and celebration gave people a tangible relief from the harshness of winter while still being enmeshed in its reality.

I find this sense of optimism and faith expands hope within me today. It is a conscious reminder that yes, the light does return, yes, there will be new growth and new life. Yes, things can begin anew even amidst the dark and cold. Let us celebrate that knowledge!

Whether or not you practice modern rituals marking this day, consider lighting a candle in honor of the light returning. Place the match to the wick in reverence of all renewal of life. Think of the hope it may ignite to see something new and vital grow within you. Remember that even in times of darkness you can offer your knowledge that the light always returns.

Clearing the Air and Energy

Have you ever found yourself feeling overcome with emotion? Maybe you have walked into a room that feels like the air itself is pressing down on you? These can be indications of a room or space that needs a good clearing out.

Sometimes it is not enough to scrub the place clean. Many times the energies, spirits and/or emotions linger long after cleaning products’ applications have faded. This is when clearing the energy can help.

There are many ways to remove unwanted energy or energy that is stagnant or oppressive. One of my favorite and most effective ways to do this was taught to me by my Native American Elders. It involves the use of sacred plants and prayers or intentions. Often referred to as smudging; it purifies the space.

Let me share with you the art of smudging as it was taught to me. Gather your tools first. Collect together; white sage or ceremonial sage, matches, a shell or small fire-proof container and a feather or small feather fan. Put a few leaves of the dried sage into the shell or other container. Locate the direction of the East. You will begin your cleansing of the space and energy in the East.

Take your shell with the sage leaves, your matches and feather or fan to the area of the East in the space you are smudging. Light the sage pieces with your match. Let them catch fire a little then blow out the flames. I put the used match in the shell next to the sage leaves. Take your feather or fan and gently move the smoke up and down the walls of the space while praying or keeping an intention. This can as simple as saying or thinking, “Bless and cleanse this home.” You can substitute the name of the space you are in if it is not a home, such as an office, or you can simply say, “this space” instead.

Move in a clockwise direction as you move the smoke and repeat your prayer or intention. Complete a full circle. When you return to the East and where you started say, “Thank you.”

Extinguish any smoking leaves. I place the shell on my stove or other nonburnable surface until it cools. The shell can sometimes become hot on the bottom depending on the area I am smudging and how much sage I have used. Return you other tools to their storage area. Once the shell is completely cooled, I usually leave it at least an hour for safety, I put it away.

You can sprinkle the cooled ashes on the Earth or place them in a potted plant. Just make sure they are totally cooled by touching them with you fingers. Living in an arid and dry climate makes me especially cautious when handling fire and embers.

Now you are done smudging. I notice an immediate difference in the environment once I have completed this cleansing ceremony. Things feel lighter and more in harmony. You may experience a shift in the area right away or you might notice that you are less stressed, have more patience or it may dawn on you after a while that everything flows better.

If you are interested in using smudging as a tool begin with sage as noted above unless an Elder specifically tells you otherwise. Sage can accomplish cleaning the energy, lightening up the space and restoring harmony.

Sage sticks are also available. If you use a full stick I suggest carrying a shell under it as embers can fall while smudging. Doing so will help to keep this a safe process. Also when you extinguish a sage or smudge stick really grind it down into the shell to tamp out any smouldering embers.

It is important to be responsible and careful when using these tools and teachings.

Recently I’ve read some articles that indicate that smudging can remove germs from the air. These ancient practices hold more meaning and practical applications than generally understood. Be respectful in using this ritual.

Thank you to the Elders who have shared their teachings and ceremonies with me. Aho.