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.
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’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.
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.
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!
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.
Have you ever had a dream, desire or yearning that emanates from deep within you? Do you recognize that it is your heart, your soul calling to you? If so, are you living those wishes out in your life?
I sure hope that you are doing just as you dreamed! But if you are not don’t tune out! You are exactly who I want to talk with today!
Many of us have experienced the longing that I described and we are not living those hopes out in our lives. Why do you suppose that might be true? Fear could play a factor however I believe that some of us are waiting for permission. We worry about what our mate, our children, our family, our friends, even people we have yet to meet will think if we step out of the lines that have been drawn for us. We want love and acceptance and so we wait.
Here’s the thing; waiting for others to grant permission on your dreams, desires and yearning is like asking them to breathe for you. There is just no way possible that they can make that happen! Only you and the Divine have a true understanding of what your heart and soul are calling you to undertake. If you are an adult there is no need to have someone else grant you permission to follow your dreams. As long as what you want to do doesn’t cause abuse to you or another, you are free to pursue what calls to you.
Think of it this way; the stallion in the open pasture never asks, “Is it okay if I run and leap right now?” No way! That would be silly. It feels a delight inside and expresses this in leaping and running. It does it for the simply joy of being.
There is no permission needed other than our own to discover the beauty and happiness in living our dreams.
When you look at the picture accompanying today’s post it appears as if the image is moving. Interestingly there is no actual motion within the picture. You may be aware that you are viewing an illusion. What is causing you to believe that you see movement is the way that your mind interprets the data it receives. In this case, your eyes send the image to your mind. It then tells you that there is motion where there is none.
I am not going to delve into the scientific understandings of the mind in relation to illusion. Instead let’s explore the idea that there are times that the mind (yours & mine) has it wrong.
If you never question what the mind determines then you have a system of belief that has errors. Things that you believe could simply be illusions that were misinterpreted by the mind. Some theories go so far as to say that you whole life is an illusion! I think that is up to you to determine. I will say that it is possible to move beyond the mind to see clearly.
There are tools to help unravel the illusions. First one must still the mind. This can be done with meditation, yoga, prayer, the possibilities to accomplish this are numerous. Once the mind is quiet, you begin to notice the body. Sensations, tension and the like arise. Acknowledge them but let that flow away. Go deeper in the stillness. Let the heart speak.
I was taught that the heart is the true seat of Wisdom. I’ve also been told that it is within the heart that the soul resides. Thinking of it this way, when your heart is speaking it is your soul talking.
Aren’t you curious to hear what your soul has to say? I am! Imagine the beliefs that would arise from your soul!!! Join me in unraveling the illusions so that life can be enriched with the whisperings of our souls. Let your heart lead you.
Something pretty amazing took place in my life several years ago. I can not recall the circumstances of my life and what was taking place at the time. The only thing I remember is the hearts.
I began to notice heart shapes in nature. Several times a week I would see a heart. They could be anywhere; in a cloud formation, in the separation of bubbles as I did the morning dishes, in the shape of leaves.
Once I was sent into the woods to sit quietly for an hour. When I looked up there was a leaf directly above my head. It had a heart-shaped hole in it where some tiny bug ate the leaf away. The shape was a perfect heart! I recall that I had difficulty not laughing out loud when I saw that one! I was supposed to be silent while there, so I laughed inside.
There was a time when I didn’t notice them at all, but I’m sure they were still there. After the flood of seeing them every week for several years I did not see them as frequently. I lost my awareness of them and the gift that they brought me for a while. During that time I was working on internal baggage. I did see them but it was much more rare.
The other day I went for a walk and noticed a heart-shaped leaf. Actually, it was a leaf that had been walked on and was broken, but the shape the pieces of the leaf took was a heart. I’ve been seeing them again for quite a while now. So long, in fact, that I can’t pinpoint the exact time that I began to notice them again. I see them everyday now, usually several different hearts in a day.
I’ve never questioned seeing them. I did not ever feel the need to ponder why they showed up for the first time or examine what is happening that I still see them today. There could be some deep message from them that I don’t yet understand, but it is a mote point to me. Here’s why: every single time I see them; whether it was the first time or is ongoing; regardless of if I share that experience with someone or not, I smile.
The hearts make me smile because it is like Mother Nature, the Universe, and the Divine, are sending me a message of love. A reminder that love is here right now. This is not even a conscious thought when I see them. I know, understand and receive the message of the hearts at a level of sacredness contained inside of me. My response is to smile. You may have guessed that the smile is from my heart. It is my answer to the hearts sent to me.
Come and learn Native American Traditional Teachings regarding women, their “Moontime” and their importance within the tribe or community. Discover how you can apply these teachings to enrich your own life.
You are invited to join me on SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 at Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, Children’s Chapel from 12:30pm – 4:30pm (PDT) for a Red Tent Moonlodge Gathering: Autumn Immersion. The church address is: 55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek, CA 94549. Register via Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church’s link: http://mduuc.org/religious-education-programs/register-for-classes or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women of all ages come to rest, renew and remember your sacredness. Join Shelly O’Connell as she shares Traditional Women’s Teachings with you. We will dance, drum and join together on a journey to embrace the true radiance within each woman. Autumn Immersion will give each participant the opportunity to put the teachings into practice immediately. Together we will go deeper into the teachings this season.
Women ages thirteen and older are invited to attend. Workshop participants will bring one symbol of yourself as a woman to place upon the altar which we will create together. Include a journal for notes and homework. Suggested attire is comfortable clothing; long dresses or skirts, if you like, to remind you of your femininity.
Shelly received the Traditional Women’s Teachings from Native Elders. “These teachings completely changed and enriched my life!” she writes. Shelly says of the teachings, “Following the Traditional Women’s Teachings centers you and allows you to step into your wisdom.” Are you ready to step in to your own wisdom?
This will be a four hour workshop offered each season; Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter with teachings related to each season. You may attend one workshop, a few or all, it is up to you. Suggested donation of $25.
*Painting by, Valoru*