Archive for category Making Changes
I enjoy reading words of inspiration as much as you probably do. I believe in the power of positive thinking. I love practicing the art of creative visualization. (My man Jordan Spieth, last week’s winner of the US Open Golf Championship, is the ultimate practitioner of creative visualization.)
Having said this, I have to say something more. You probably guessed I’d go on for a bit in this week’s blog. It takes more than a stranger’s words to affect lasting, positive change and success in any endeavor. It takes loving support from caring mentors. The ideal personification of this support comes from a set of caring, loving parents. Let’s take Jordan Spieth again as an example. He seems to have an ideal relationship with his loving, caring, teaching parents plus a monumental talent that have helped him to win two major golf titles in his young and promising career.
Jason Day, a young professional golfer from Australia, battled bravely through dizziness and nausea caused by vertigo to finish high in the US Open final standings. Jason, unlike his contemporary Spieth, did not have a strong connection with his parents while growing up. He had a troubled youth before meeting Colin Swatton at Kooralbyn, a golf-centric boarding school in south-east Queensland. Jason’s mother had to borrow money to send her son to Kooralbyn in a desperate attempt to do something about his delinquent behavior after his father died of stomach cancer when Jason was 12.
Colin Swatton was a golf instructor at Kooralbyn when he first met the head-strong, rebellious Day. Swatton’s non-confrontational style won Jason over. When Swatton moved on to teach at Hills International College, Day followed him. From there, Swatton became Day’s golf coach, mentor, close friend and full-time professional caddie. Jason Day is now one of the top-ranked golfers in the world with a family of his own and the admiration and affection of his peers.
After I’ve read a self-help book the inspiration and advice usually fade within forty-eight hours. Formulaic self-help exercises quickly become dry practices that yield little or lasting benefits. I picked up a few Wayne Dyer books a year ago and two things became immediately clear: (1) Wayne has a lot of nice things to say and (2) I could not practice or live what Dyer says if I tried for a million years.
So what does it take to move forward, achieve, and grow? To amplify what I said earlier, it takes a special personal relationship. It is a relationship that always accepts and honors who you are and where you are. It can be a parental, mentoring, teaching, romantic, or friend to friend relationship. In the case of the first three, the relationship begins with the child, mentee, or student receiving more at first. I’ve learned that over time the best of these relationships blossom into mutuality where both parties reap significant rewards. There’s an energy and information exchange in these relationships; call it love, call it caring and concern, call it chemistry. Whatever it is, it’s a radiant, magic elixir. It produces extraordinary human beings; some famous and others who live and work quietly outside of the limelight.
The transmission of an awakened human being can be life transforming and life enhancing. It is like cosmic orange juice–a vitamin for the soul, water for the seed, nectar for a heart thirsty for joy, wholeness, well-being and fulfillment.
“As [students] lose more conceptual, belief-based faith in their old pursuits, the pilot light of their intrinsic being becomes more accessible to the catalytic heat of our transmission. With a sufficient exposure to that energy, Being itself is then able to initiate the awakening and transformational process within the individual. The results are no less profound than that of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.”
One of the major obstacles to personal and spiritual growth is an inability to admit that we need something outside of oneselves to truly activate and accelerate the process of self-realization. That something is hard to define and harder still to find. We can admit that we need family, friends, a spouse or boy/girlfriend. We can accept the help of a trained mental health counselor when our limited internal and external resources are not enough to meet the difficulties life hurls at us. Yet it usually takes a rare form of desperation to seek the help and wisdom of a spiritual teacher.
It is only when everything else fails to satisfy that we are ready to go beyond the boundaries of convention and delve into the realm of the Spirit.
This point of extreme desperation is the beginning. It may require a change from one teacher to another. The deep need for spiritual nourishment may begin with curiosity and deepen with time, perhaps lifetimes, until the time is right to dive deeply. You may audition innumerable teachers and philosophies until you walk into the right room. Once you walk through that door, however, it soon becomes clear that what you hear and feel are what you are looking for. The transmission and the words fit like a glove—perfect for your needs. In time, you won’t hear everything that you want to hear, but that is another stage of the process.
I am grateful to have found in bountiful measure the cosmic orange juice that my heart craves. May it be so for you.
Blessings on your journey.
In my last blog, I promised to write more about my residential retreat with Saniel and Linda Groves-Bonder at their home in Sonoma, California. I left you and me hanging on the question whether I would have enough to talk about during my two-day retreat. It turns out my fear was almost groundless. I did run out of “personal stuff” to bring forward, but it didn’t matter. We filled the space by working on two projects I’m doing with Saniel and Linda, and by simply being together in simple, every-day terms.
For instance, I volunteered to drive Saniel into Sonoma to do some errands, including buying cat food and six rather large sacks of bird seed. Linda likes to feed the birds—every one of them, it seems, living in Sonoma County and beyond. I can imagine word of mouth traveling at warp speed within the aviary community about delicious, free food.
Have you ever been inside a hay/grain/birdseed store? Not this city slicker. I had only been to the main “drags” in town. Saniel helped me to experience Sonoma from a resident’s point-of-view. It’s a quaint country town with a population of only 10,400. Let me add, I gave myself a few extra days to explore some of the surrounding cities. I found Sausalito to be the most interesting of these. It’s a beautiful town overlooking the San Francisco Bay with lovely homes terraced into the hills and populated by artists, musicians, New-Age thinkers, and other adventuresome souls. The more conventional residents were probably working in nearby San Francisco somewhere across the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather in northern California at this time of year can only be described as “glorious and majestic.”
Pardon my digression.
I become really happy around Saniel and Linda thanks to their powerful transmissions. During our time together, we laughed, worked hard, and had lots of fun. There was a bonus event (for me) on Sunday called “a sitting” where Saniel and Linda hosted nine local people for a two-hour session of meditation and sharing.
After these two and a half days, I’m cooked. I can’t say if I’m rare, medium, or well-done. I just know I’m cooked and it’s a good thing.
While meditating at the Sunday morning sitting an image came to me: hands knitting golden threads into a golden rope. The image suggested to me a certain perfect harmony that surrounded everything Saniel, Linda and I said and did. There was another entity at work with us, weaving together the strands of our collective efforts into a golden rope. Everything that happened just sort of fell into place, as if by magic. (I know what my next book project will be about. It fell into my lap as lightly as a feather.) The golden rope brought us closer together; more comfortable in our Being and knowing of one another—linked heart-to-heart, now and into the future.
The question is, how can I make the best use of my time?
I’ll bet you’ve asked yourself that question a few times. It used to come up for me once in a while. Now it pops up at least once a week. It’s because I have less time. I can hear my “consciousness clock” ticking louder and louder, like a woman who wants to bear children hears her biological clock ticking.
The child I want to bring into the world is my realization of consciousness. It’s time for me to awaken. I don’t even know what that means. I’ve read about it extensively, but it takes more than reading. It takes practice, focused intention, an activating, energetic transmission, and I don’t know what else. Maybe that last missing ingredient is “grace.” I don’t know what that is either.
Most of the people throughout history who have realized consciousness have done so with the help of a teacher or a series of teachers. Finding a teacher is usually a matter of sincere intention. When this intention reaches a “boiling point,” an appropriate teacher, or adept, enters the student’s life. It’s a phenomenon well documented by inspiring stories handed down through the ages.
Achieving any major goal is a tricky business. It helps enormously to have a carefully chosen team of mentors, teachers, and peer support to overcome the inevitable obstacles and downright perplexing passages along the way.
It is so easy for me to be distracted. For example, my mind constantly presents me with pressing issues that aren’t truly pressing, and concerns that have little importance in the big or the little scheme of things.
That’s where my team comes in. They help me to stay focused on what I consider to be the ultimate goal of human existence; awakening to the bliss of the infinite Self, and then learning how to integrate that consciousness with my individual self. It will take a small or large miracle, but when I get right down to it, there isn’t much else on my drawing board that really needs to get done.
There is a phrase I learned when I was a commercial real estate broker; “the highest and best use of a property.”
As time passes, economic conditions and neighborhoods change. A commercial property originally built as a three-storey parking garage can have higher income potential and use if it is torn down and rebuilt as a high-rise office building.
I feel something analogous is happening to me as my awakening unfolds. The highest and best use of the property given to me, my body, is evolving into something that can be of more use to me in terms of enjoyment and of greater use to others.
I’m not exactly sure what I’m morphing into, but I’m positive it’s not a new X-Man character. I’m excited to find out who I become. In the meantime, I’m writing a few more blogs.
As Being comes alive in me…
…Fear and anxiety dissipate
…I feel more peace
…Every action I take has meaning
…Heaviness yields to lightness
…Clarity, simplicity, and focus become second nature
…The future is uncertain yet full of possibilities for creativity and enjoyment
…I can make every breath serve a higher purpose
This past week I attended a seminar presented by Saniel Bonder titled “The Sun in Your Heart is Rising–Activating Your Embodied Awakening, Wholeness, and Unique Purpose.” Nine people attended the five-day event at Kripalu Yoga Center in western Massachusetts. One of the exercises in the seminar is called “Heart Seat Share.” Each person in the group speaks for seven minutes about what is going on in their lives and their process of awakening with time allotted for feedback from the teacher and group members. I decided to write my heart share down and read it to the group.
Here I am. It’s my time to share. Please excuse me if I repeat some of the things I said in the small group. Wait a minute. I really don’t want to repeat myself. Why don’t I just check in with myself to see what’s happening. I can go deeper if I write this all down.
I imagine myself walking down a long flight of steps in my throat. I arrive on the first floor of my chest cavity.*
Leaving the first floor stairwell, I encounter a winding corridor with abrupt ups and downs spaced randomly for no apparent reason, maybe just to keep things interesting. Fortunately, I’m walking along a single corridor with no doorways or branches where I have to choose which way to go. I just need to put one foot in front of the other and have faith that these very same feet are taking me to a place I want to go.
Finally, I see a doorway in the distance. The overhead lighting becomes increasingly bright as I reach my destination. It’s a plain, wooden door, not a wrought iron gate, no carvings in the wood or lettering, not even a white coat of paint. I wonder why the door isn’t more elaborate. I’d certainly make it so if I were writing a story. But this is sharing. I don’t have to impress anyone with my incredible powers of imagination. I simply have to say how it is.
I grab the plain brass handle on the plain wooden door, turn it, and nothing happens. The door is firmly locked. I knock a few times and wait. Seconds go by and then a full minute. No response.
“Anybody home?” I call out.
Total silence. Not even the sound of air-conditioning.
“You know, I’ve come a long way to get here. The least you can do is answer the door.”
I’ve traveled this way many times before. I’ve come to realize this place is the door to my heart. No big discovery, no unique metaphor, just the plain old door to my heart.
I’ve been told by numerous teachers that someone or something dwells deep within the recesses of that heart. I’ve always believed this to be true. I never doubted it. Yet here I am, standing here like an idiot, all by myself. I’ve heard some vague rumblings from time to time from the other side of the door. I’ve had a few inklings, maybe even heard a few burblings, but that’s about it.
“This is getting embarrassing,” I say to the door. “I’m here in front of the class, and I need to sound halfway intelligent. Can you please give me some material to work with?”
“Like what?” a voice says from the other side of the door in a slightly irritated tone.
I almost fall down in place. These two words are more than I’ve heard in thirty years. It’s a clear, unmistakable, somewhat irritated voice. I quickly regroup before the voice loses interest. I must take advantage of this opportunity. I have to get right to the point. I imagine whoever is speaking to me is quite busy. I’m not even going to imagine if it has a shape. I can’t risk wasting its time.
“Okay,” I begin. “Can you tell me why we haven’t met yet?”
“It’s a very long story all having to do with you that we can’t get into now because it would exceed your share time.”
“Okay, okay. Well, then, can you tell me when it might be possible for us to meet.”
“I really can’t believe you haven’t figured this out yet,” the voice answers wearily. “I suppose I’ll have to spell it out for you.”
There is a long pause before the voice speaks again.
“You aren’t ready to meet me. And PUHLEASE, don’t ask me when you’ll be ready.
“You’ll be ready when you’re ready.”
“I feel like I’m getting ready,” I say like a little boy holding out a shiny apple for the teacher.
“Good. Keep it up. Let me give you one word of advice: Patience. Everything is timing. Have you heard that one?”
“Then practice it.
I wait for more words of wisdom. There are none forthcoming.
“Is that it?
“Yes, David. I must say you’re doing quite nicely. THE SUN IS ACTUALLY RISING IN YOUR HEART. Hang in there. You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.”
*The first floor of my chest cavity is actually the highest floor in relation to my feet. The floors numbers increase as you take each flight of stairs down, which is the opposite case in most buildings.
**The construction of an elevator is underway. Please pardon our dust and debris while we make this a better living space for your comfort, convenience, and safety.
***Photo by http://www.thisarchitecture.com