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Posts tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality’

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.

 

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.

 

 

Message of Hearts

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.

The Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel (And How They Affect Your Life)

Do you want to better understand the wilderness along with your interactions and connections with Nature? Check out: We Are Wildness. Their mission is “to help improve the health of the planet by inspiring people all over the world to reconnect with Nature.” I invite you to visit their site to learn more.

You will also find; The Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel (And How They Affect Your Life), a guest blog post, that I wrote for them there. Follow this link: http://wearewildness.com/four-directions-medicine-wheel-affect-life/ to read all about it!

Dreams Manifested: Short Story Published!

I am beyond excited today! Today is the first time I’ve had the chance to see one of my stories in print! There is no describing the elation I felt when I saw the book cover!

Some time ago I fell head over heels in love with writing fiction that has a message for the reader. This publication represents the dawning of that dream into reality! I know that many other incredible things will follow. Never give up on your dreams! Ever!!!

I am sharing it here so that you may enjoy it too. I had fun writing this short story. It makes me smile!!! I hope it lifts you as well and inspires you to continue to reach for your own dream.

Here is a brief description of the story: “In this whimsical short story a Sea Witch teaches the reader some lessons of the sea and of life. If you are ready to experience some Magic and transformation within your life this book may provide some tools.” It is available as an eBook through this link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OGSASKO

Enjoy!

RED TENT MOONLODGE GATHERING: AUTUMN IMMERSION

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 adultprograms@mduuc.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*

Summer Solstice: the Seat of the Fire

Welcome Summer! Summer is many things and there are vast teachings about this season. Today I wish to honor the fire. Fire burns but it is also brings transformation and renewal. Fire represents Spirit and the elemental spark within all of life. Fire helps us to remember the intensity and passion present in life.

Take a moment to light a small flame or a large one if your location and responsible behavior allow it. Take whatever you wish to release or transform to the fire. It will be forever changed when you give it to the flames. Know that new life is coming, rejuvenation is on the way.

Let the fire teach you of passion and of life-force unleashed. Fire is a complex teacher. You will learn respect in working with it. This is important because it is powerful and it is sacred. Just as you are, my friend. Fire will help you to learn this truth.

Fire is the beacon that gathers the people back to living fully and honestly. Through its teachings we walk a Sacred Road. I offer my gratitude to the Spirit of Fire. Aho.