Friday, December 19, 2008

Smiles in Waiting — Real Holiday Cheer


One of the side benefits of the holidays is the opportunity to develop greater patience. You know....standing in lines, waiting for help, more traffic than usual. It can either be a trying, stressful time or it can be a time to develop patience and kindness. I remind myself of this whenever I realize I didn't allow enough time for everything I wanted to get done, and every task is taking longer than I might have hoped.

When we were moving from our house, I ran to the store to pick up some cold drinks for the movers and a cappuccino for my husband. Ahead of me in the coffee line, a gentleman had just purchased about 12 different holiday coffee drinks. Apparently, friends and family were celebrating together over cups of specially flavored coffees. I thought to myself, "I could drive a few miles to another coffee store, or I could wait here in line." Sleep deprived and a bit weary, I decided it would be easier to simply wait, and so I did.

I joked around with the man ahead of me and his friend, laughing about how much life has changed since we were younger, that we now find ourselves waiting around for specialty coffee drinks. We reminisced about $.25 cups of coffee (I am dating myself now aren't I?) and bottomless pots of coffee at restaurants. Waiting was not difficult at all. It was an opportunity to remember, tease, and enjoy life with others. The barista's hands flew and the time passed rather quickly. Before the guys left, they bought me my cup of coffee.

Making someone smile is a nice practice I have discovered, particularly when waiting in lines. And there is no better time to engage this practice than during the holidays. So next time you are standing in a long line, stuck in traffic, or waiting to be helped, you might consider sharing smiles with some tired, stressed out folks who might very much appreciate your gift of holiday cheer.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stimulating a Grateful Heart


Yesterday, one of our ministerial students shared something profound he heard at a recent spiritual gathering. It is one of those wisdoms we should learn when we are very young and then spend our lives putting it into practice. The sentiment went like this—you should never leave a conversation with someone thinking badly about someone else.

Simple and profound, isn't it? There is a Cherokee tenet of a similar flavor that reminds us to "Speak only about the good of others." I know from experience that when this tenet is put into practice within a community, the gifts each individual brings to the whole become seen, reinforced and honored. Imagine living in a community where more attention is given to your strengths than is given to your perceived flaws. Imagine how much more gratitude wells up from within you when you are focusing on each other's gifts and how you are helping each other grow spiritually.

At SpiritQuest, an annual gathering for people wanting to experience Native ceremonies, we put this tenet into practice for a week. Because many of us in camp are holding space for people who are questing, we make a commitment to maintain peace and harmony with each other in camp. By maintaining sacred harmony, we are creating a safe energetic space in which our questers can dive deeply into the Mystery.

Because we are human, issues do arise—our own as well as issues our questers may be resolving in their journeys into the sacred, and then reflected through us within the camp. We know that as we bring those issues into resolution as a community, we are creating the sacred container for our questers' healing. As a result, we endeavor with great dedication to recognize and resolve the issues that come up to be healed.

More than once, I have seen someone make their way to the sacred fire to quietly pray and meditate with the emotions stirring within them. Many times, I have seen two people take a walk together to share from their hearts what they are experiencing, and listen with their hearts until together they find peace. Sometimes, an individual needs a little help sorting through their experiences and emotions, so they find someone they trust to listen and offer counsel.

When we are having a particularly difficult time with someone, we follow this general guideline. Let's say I am frustrated with someone else. It is understood I many need to speak to a third party individual about what I am experiencing—not to make the person wrong or to try to change them. Rather, I speak about my frustration in order to understand the lesson my frustration is teaching me. I seek to understand what perceptions or actions I need to engage for myself, so that I can live in harmony with the one who is frustrating me.

The person, who is listening to me sort through my frustration and dilemma, is in effect, being asked to remain neutral and to help me find my way. It would be inappropriate for either of us to leave the conversation with ill thoughts about the person I am frustrated with, because the issue is not about them. This issue is about how I am being triggered. In integrity, I address how I am being triggered and what I need to do about it.

The year that we adopted this approach, the gossip and backstabbing that had previously been taking place in the background during our ceremonial week disappeared. With this approach, we do not gloss over problems, nor do we turn them into dramas with perceived enemies. We use our problems as means for personal transformation, and in doing so create a sanctuary of sacred space. In that sacred space, we can become grateful for the challenges (and the individuals presenting them) so that we can transcend.

Imagine with me, will you, a world where we take responsibility for ourselves in such a way? Imagine what it would be like to create a world where each of us received less criticism and more acknowledgment for our talents and contributions to our community. Imagine living in a world where you never leave a conversation with someone thinking badly about someone else. And what would the world be like if we went one step further, making sure that at the end of our conversations, someone felt better about themselves because they had been acknowledged for who they are, the challenges they are overcoming, and the gifts they bring to the world?

During this Thanksgiving holiday, I will be making sure I take ownership for what I am feeling without making someone else wrong. I will be thanking the very people who intentionally or unintentionally are challenging me to grow. I will also be focusing my attention on the talents and gifts people bring into my life and thanking them for being who they are, meeting their challenges, and being a part of my life. I know the kind of community this practice creates, so I gladly make this commitment to focus my attention this Thanksgiving week in stimulating my grateful heart. Will you join me?

For a prayer to stimulate the awakening of your grateful heart, I recommend the morning prayer, if you have not read it yet at: http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php/board,38.0.html

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Waiting for What Is Right


My husband and I recently sold our home—the one with the deer and rabbits visiting us regularly. It is challenging to say goodbye to all of our four-legged friends, but it is time to move on, and we will hold their precious spirits in our hearts as we look for our next "just-right" home.

Looking for a new place to live has its challenges, as I'm sure you can relate. In our case, merging the needs and desires of two people into a single, committed choice is bit of a journey. My husband's tastes run ultra modern and mine run toward the french-country side. Finding a home and decorating it have proven to give us the most visible evidence of our differences. We see much of the world similarly—except when it comes to our home. Fortunately, we find a bridge in our taste because I also happen to have a zen-streak that accommodates his love of clean lines. He on the other hand, has become accustomed to baskets and plants around the house, as well as occasional table linens.

Even with the ways we have learned to adapt, we still bump into each others differences. We discovered this before we moved into our first home together, so here is the agreement we made before we began looking. When we choose a home, we both have to feel comfortable and inspired by it. Before anything is purchased for the house, we both have to like it. That means, we agree to wait until we discover something that pleases both of us.

In our recent house looking, this does involve some degree of frustration as one of us falls in love with a house that the other one can't stand. It takes quite a bit of trust and non-attachment to let go of a house one of us really likes, surrendering to discovering something greater that suits both of us. The process demands patience because we often need to look for a while before we find something that works. Yet, when we find that "just-right" house, we experience a sense of significant accomplishment, because we have manifested something that transcends, and is even ultimately more satisfying than, our individual desires.

A few weeks ago, I took some feelings of impatience with waiting about another matter into my meditation—holding it in compassion for resolution. A gentle voice from deep within finally found me when my mind had grown still and my emotions had calmed. The voice said, "Sometimes you are waiting for what is right." I came out of the meditation freed from some of my impatience as I remembered the many wonderful people and experiences throughout my life that I had waited for. As we search for houses, I am again reminded of the wisdom of this meditation. Sometimes we are waiting for what is right.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

When Family and Friends Aren't Supporting You in Your Purpose


Some years ago, I attended a conference and one of the speakers shared something about support that has stayed with me ever since. He explained that when you are doing what you know you must do, not everyone you know supports you. In fact, some of the people you may get the least support from are your family and friends. He went on to explain there is a reason for this. The people who are closest to you are most afraid for you. Their words or attitudes of discouragement are very likely the reflections of their doubts that they would be safe if they made the choice you are making.

In spiritual reflection, we could take this one step further. Their doubts may be the reflection of your own doubts. In either case, the way to break free from other people's doubts relies on breaking free from our own.

Martha Sinetar, in her book Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood shares her own experience with her family when she decided to write this book. The family was not very supportive in the beginning. Her husband was not entirely sure it was a good idea nor very encouraging, and her children weren't very thrilled about doing a few more chores so that mom had time to write.

You can imagine how frustrating this was for Sinetar. But she knew she needed to write the book, so she made a commitment to herself and made a stand with her family. The sentiment with her family went something like this — if you want to eat, you will do your share of the cooking and make your own lunches. If you want a clean house, you will do your share of the dishes and cleaning. If you want clean clothes, you will wash them.

Well, you can imagine the response—revolution. She found herself washing her own plate to eat from, stepping over piles of dirty clothes......you, get the picture. She didn't waiver. She didn't tell them what they had to do, nor did she make a federal case out of it when they didn't support her by doing more of the household chores. She simply did what she said she was going to do—write—with fair warning to her family that she was going to be much less available to take care of the household.

She could have listened to her husband's fear that this was not a good idea. She could have continued to take care of the household and slowly eeked out her book—sometime—maybe. Instead, Sintar did what she was here to do — write a book that has helped thousands of people gain clarity for and commit to their life purposes.

Of course our family members can have good advice for us and listening to their concerns can be helpful. If you are about to invest a lot of money, you might want to listen to some sound advice before doing that. If you are about to purchase a high maintenance car, after saying you wanted a low-maintenance one, and your partner or friend points that out, you might want to listen. We often do need the perspectives of the people who love us in order to find balance in our lives and make wise choices.

I'm talking about the times our loved ones are reflecting our own doubts or their fears that are not based in solid intuition or sagely experience. There are times when you simply know, deep down in your being, what you need to do, and one of the best ways to move through the reflections of doubts is with clear, peaceful, committed resolve.

It is said that Mother Teresa had the following written on her wall at her home for children in Calcutta, India,
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.


Read the rest of Mother Teresa's "Do It Anyway" at Universal Prayers at the New Dream Foundation Forums:
http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php/board,38.0.html

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

When Life Becomes a Living Prayer


I've been writing about some tough issues coming up for me lately, and I have found it to be very healing to look at myself straight on. It isn't always easy, but the freedom on the other side of self honesty—well, the immense joy and freedom on the other side makes it all worth the effort. However, today I would like to take a little break to reflect on something more nurturing.

I grew up the oldest of six kids, with a mom who was ill a lot of the time. Bet you can get the picture. I was a little mom assuming a lot of adult responsibility at a very young age. As I grew older, it became challenging to create time to play and rest.

One Saturday, I actually told myself wasn't going to do anything I felt had to be done. I would only engage in activities I wanted to experience. Once I got passed the "I should be doing" thoughts, it became one of the most enjoyable days of my life. Living for the fun of it was a completely new concept to me. Now I dedicate time every week for fun—no talking about the Foundation, my upcoming book, challenges—just stories, laughter and teasing.

I still do things I need to do, even the tasks I'm not particularly fond of, but somehow over the years I've learned to think about them a little differently. I like to approach those tasks, and when I'm really being conscious—all of my experiences, as prayer. It feels so good to be painting the steps of the porch, weeding the garden or doing the dishes and offering the acts themselves as prayers of thanksgiving for all I get to enjoy in life.

When it is a particularly unpleasant task like cleaning out the toilet or taking out the garbage, it is a wonderful time to remember people who are even more challenged than me, and offer the act as a prayer to reduce the burden of someone else. There are many children around the world who are raising and providing for their younger brothers and sisters with far fewer resources and help than I had. Some of them don't have parents or homes or even regular food to eat. So I turn my chores into acts of prayer for them.

To get up in the morning grateful for my dreams and time to meditate; to step outside from my office to enjoy sensation of sweet, clean air and listen to the birds singing to each other; to know that the work I do each day is of service to someone in greater need than me; to go to bed at night and feel gratitude for our home and my husband snuggled up against me—every moment is worthy of being a prayer. Every moment is a prayer.

From time to time, particularly when I am feeling challenged by what I perceive needs to be done, I remind myself my life is a prayer. And then I ask myself, "So how do I want to live this prayer?" The answer usually comes very quickly. Some quality of love comes to mind like peacefully, happily, joyfully, romantically......all the yummy ways I want to experience life. Then I am able to turn the challenge into an opportunity to be of service, and the service becomes a loving, joyful expression of life—and I experience my life as a living prayer.

To read a prayer about Life As Prayer, visit: http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php/board,38.0.html

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Struggle of Accepting Others and Self as We Are


My relationship with my husband has proven to be a wonderful place in which to become more self-aware. Perhaps relationships for most, if not all of us, allow us to see powerful reflections of our beliefs and behaviors in action, and that is certainly true for us. On my part, it is fairly easy to see the reasons he loves me. The harder realities to witness are the justifiable reasons I drive him crazy and even hurt his feelings.

We are in the process of selling our home right now, and like many couples, the added workload and transition is pushing our stress buttons. Frankly, we are not always acting like the spiritually sensitive and kind beings we take pride in being. The good news is that we are both willing to look at ourselves honestly.

Currently that means I am taking a close look at how I expect him to be the way I want him to be. My mother did the same thing. So did my grandmothers. I didn’t know my great-grandmothers, but I’m willing to bet they did the same thing. I have read a few books on relationship dynamics that would confirm my suspicion that women tend to do that. We think we will be happier if our men would just become the men we want them to be. Never mind that we fell in love with them as they are.

In fairness, we women aren’t the only ones that engage in this interesting practice. Take a look at the world. It has become somewhat accepted policy when the US attempts to (and sometimes does) establish democracies in countries that never wanted a democratic government, as if we know what is better for someone else, so even against their will we attempt to change them.

If you didn’t know, I’m part Caucasian, part Native with a background in behavioral science, which gives me reason to consider the patterned behaviors of the cultures I have come from. What I’m about to say, may not fit for you and you might not agree. If you have a different perspective, write me and I’ll post your view.

When I look at the history of my Caucasian ancestors, it seems we have a long history of changing other cultures so that we will feel more at home. I know there are many cases in which other cultures have adopted new influences willingly, but that hasn’t always been the case. Look at the way we came to the Americas, for example, and imposed our will, ruthlessly, on the Native people.

All right, that was in the past, or somebody’s ancestors who did that, but are we aware of ways in which this pattern persists even today? Perhaps even through us? Do we have the courage to change it personally, nationally, and culturally?

I once heard the races likened to the elements. The white race was associated with fire; the red race with the earth, the black race with water and the yellow race with the wind. The speaker demonstrated the advancements of each race as associated with these elements. If we played with this concept a bit, we might ask, “What is the nature of fire?” It does have a way of consuming everything in its path, doesn’t it—at least until its path is stopped? It also provides light and enlightenment, warmth, purification, and all the beautiful ways in which we relate to fire.

Perhaps, if those of us who have Caucasian blood would be willing to consider our historical patterns, even our fire-like qualities, we might find reason to more consciously consider the choices we make and their effects on others—like hurting my husband’s feelings as I attempted to change a really good and thoughtful man into one that made me more comfortable. He deserves better than to be consumed in my desire to control everything. He deserves my warmth and light.

Now, can women, and men, of every race engage in this behavior of trying to change others, even against their will? Sure. And we do. After all, we are the human race before all other races, and in today’s world we are not so homogeneous. Yet still, if we have the courage, I hold that it can be helpful to consider our patterns of behavior in terms of their potential cultural and historical roots. For me, recognizing patterns and consciously changing them helps me in fulfilling my greatest potential as a spiritual human being.

Let me be clear, I am not saying my red blood is better than my white blood, or that one race or culture is better than another. Every culture brings its unique gifts and challenges into the mix of humanity. I am suggesting that my willingness to change my husband is a bit arrogant and quite disrespectful, and that I have seen this kind of disrespect played out in many ways—personally, nationally and culturally.

I understand that I have experienced both sides of disrespect. I am the one who has been disrespectful and have also been disrespected. When I look to the root of disrespect, what I observe is that in this energy there is a dishonoring of an individual's (or a group or culture's) perceptions of the world and life; an unwillingness to create space for diversity; a willingness to impose one’s will on someone else—to try to fundamentally change the beliefs of someone else so that we will be more comfortable, blurring the lines of distinction and ultimately creating greater disharmony. Tolerance for diversity and loving acceptance of self and others is forgotten.

I am willing to do my part—to heal my wounds from the inside out. How do I heal this? Personally, I take it into the Creation Meditation that I have shared with you at the Forums. I hold myself in compassionate respect and will do so until it is no longer an aching need within me. When I feel my self-respect in its fullness, I know I will no longer need to play out the dramas around respect. When I accept others and myself in our completeness—compassionately recognizing the warts and the beauty—I enter into a state of holy and sacred awareness. Therefore, I choose to use my discomfort to help me enter more deeply into sacred space.

If you would like to join me in this journey of sacred acceptance of self and others, visit this webpage and read the Creation Meditation. I’ll meet you in the ethers and together we will do our part to heal this ancient wound. http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php/topic,75.0.html

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why do we wait so long to do what we know we need to do?


A friend and I were discussing this question recently, because I have noticed that there are times when I say a prayer asking for guidance, receive the guidance, and then seem to wait to put anything into action. Now I have been known to argue with the guidance I have received and that has consistently ended up being a big waste of time. But, this is different. This question came up because I realize I get the guidance, and I’m not arguing—I’m just not acting.

I know that sometimes I need to receive the guidance three or four times from various sources before I realize that it is indeed guidance. That is understandable. Sometimes the concept is new enough or subtle enough in its delivery that it isn’t obvious, so I need my spiritual shoulder to be shaken a few times before I realize my guidance is waking me up.

I’m talking about those moments when I know I have received guidance and it is clear to me, yet I put off taking any action. I’m not alone out here with this phenomenon am I?

A question like this haunts me until I address it, so I kept exploring. “Why do I procrastinate when I have received the guidance I ask for?” I mused with my friend “Ok, sometimes I need confirmation. The concept is so new; I want to be really sure. And sometimes I’m darned afraid. Other times, I know I need partners and I’m watching for them. Still other times, the guidance requires action I’ve got to fit in to my schedule. Or I’m waiting for some miraculous occurrence that launches me into action. I’m also aware of the marketing guideline that most people need to receive a message nine times before they are likely to take action. I recognize these reasons for inaction, and I have ways for addressing them. Yet, there are times, I address the concerns, fears and limits and I’m still procrastinating. What is it?”

In my conversation with my friend I had a flash of insight about living on planet earth. One of the gifts of living on earth is that there is time between the moment we have a creative thought and its full implementation in becoming reality. For example, when I decided I wanted to become a Special Education teacher many years ago, first I had the inspiration, second I talked to a college counselor, and then I talked to my parents about helping me apply for a scholarship. I researched colleges, filled out and submitted applications……. You know the rest of the story. It was years before I was certified and teaching my first students. The process took time.

Is it possible that we are conditioned for things to take time? Time between inspiration and creation can be good. As a parent, pregnancy gives you time to prepare. If you are angry with someone and you wish them ill, there is time to recant that thought and replace it with something more compassionate. Have you ever had a reactive thought you wish you hadn’t? Here on earth, we have time here to get really clear. In fact, we frequently find ourselves needing to reinforce the clarity and passion of our desires so that the universe knows we mean it.

Sometimes, I think I’m just waiting to see if the action my guidance is suggesting feels like it will be worth the effort I sense it will take. And here is the irony. If I act immediately on the guidance I receive, the process usually takes less effort. My wondering and pondering if I have the energy and courage to do it is taking up precious energy and making it the effort I’m concerned it will be. If I just do it, less energy is required! So guess who is listening and acting immediately now?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

When Life Feels Overwhelming, What Choices Do You Make?


Tell the truth now! When you feel overwhelmed do you tend to duck and hide from the world? Or do you get angry at the least little "extra" request? Do you begin making ultimatums to everyone around you in order to try to take control? Do you run away by allowing yourself to be distracted? Do you blame other people for overwhelming you? Do you go on the attack, protecting every square inch of your time and energy?

I can admit it. I have done it all. (My husband can vouch for that.) Here is the thing about overwhelm. When you feel it you are already out of balance and you are likely to react rather than respond consciously. The trick is to respond before overwhelm hits. The opportunity in spiritual growth is to remain in the flow. Grabbing for the banks of life’s stream and trying make everything stand still often leads to tension and submersion.

Recently, Jim, Ariann and I from the New Dream Foundation met for our ten-year planning retreat. We began with a meditation and within seconds, the Retreat Center room was filled with spirits from the other side, all ready to help us. Oh, I love all those good spirits, but I’ve got to admit, seeing so many of them at a planning retreat was making me a little nervous. In my experience, when you get big help, you have something big to do. It was a fair case for overwhelm.

Instead of running scared, we decided to trust in the compassionate, loving presence of the spirits in the room with us. We had already committed to our sacred work, and they were there to support our commitment to the Divine.

As the weekend progressed, we put on paper the dreams for the Foundation we had been carrying in our hearts. The total of these dreams could easily overwhelm anyone, but we felt reassured by the help we felt from the supportive spirits on the other side of the veil.

It is a big vision, but then it had to be. It is a vision for the world—a vision where each person’s unique spiritual path is honored—a vision where people of various spiritual traditions or people without a specific spiritual tradition can find each other—create support for each other spiritually and physically, and reach out in service to people of the world in greater need. That’s a big vision and one worth living for.

When I got home, I felt the urge to panic with all we had decided to put into action. Before the panic grabbed hold too hard, I stepped back, slowed myself way down, and asked myself, “What are the best uses of my talents, and who are the people I can best serve?” I considered every area of my life, and thoughtfully made some decisions about where and how I diffuse my energy in less than efficient ways.

I looked at how I could use my talents and skills to serve people more effectively and efficiently—ultimately serving more people better. I strengthened my commitment to creating enough time for personal play, romance, exercise and rest, because keeping in balance is key to preventing overwhelm.

I do have my moments when panic creeps in and I quickly call myself back into balance—back into flow with the world, the universe and the Divine. There is time for everything that is truly important when I find my flow.

To enjoy a prayer to help you feel yourself flowing, visit: http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php?action=post;board=38.0

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Responding to Financial and Political Chaos


With the current financial and political climate, it is easy to feel the fearful energy that has arisen. As I see it, we have a couple of choices. We can either succumb to the fears or we can use the current conditions to raise our consciousness.

Some years ago, just before I accepted my apprenticeship to become an ordained minister, I decided there were two significant ways that I could personally make the greatest difference for the planet. Given my skills and talents, I debated between becoming a politician or a spiritual supporter. You know what I chose.

I have a tremendous respect for politicians. They are faced with some of the most challenging ethical, moral and practical decisions a human could face. And while they are supposed to represent their constituents, they also have their campaign funders and their own conscience to consider with every vote they make. There are days I simply shake my head in wonder that I ever contemplated that path of service.

I chose to embrace spirituality as my path because it seemed to me then, as it still does today, that if we are going to improve the quality of life on this planet, we must first improve the quality of our spiritual awareness. If we are going to raise in consciousness, we need to become morally and ethically responsible, awakened beings who value our various religious traditions and spiritual practices, while coming together to uphold the rights and virtues of all beings. I held then as I do now, that if we could recognize the Divine in all living things, we would live differently. We would be more compassionate, responsible, thoughtful, respectful......you get the idea.

Regularly I witness individuals courageously accepting their challenges and using them to become more awakened, more compassionate people. Each person who does this is transforming not only themselves - but the world. I have so much respect for every person I meet who is "doing the work"—the inner manifestation of the world they want to see.

A very wise woman in one of my classes said the other night, "The transformation of the world begins with the self." I can attest to that. I see it every year at SpiritQuest and during retreats when groups of people gather together to do their inner work and then participate in group activities. They are just as kind, compassionate, creative and respectful as you could ever hope people could be.

Many years ago, I had a vision that has guided my life. In the vision I saw many people inside a gleaming white bubble of light. They were laughing, eating, creating together in absolute joy. People stood outside the bubble looking in. They were welcome enter at any time—the only criteria being that they needed to be able to sustain this joy.

That is the world I am committed to creating. The chaos will just have to step aside.

For more insights about how to support our politicians in this challenging time, read the recent article at Namaste News at the Forums: Namaste News

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Have You Been a Little Too Hard on Yourself?


Sometimes I find I can be hard on myself and not even realize it until.....

I'm hard on another person or someone else is hard on me. This usually comes out in some form of criticism. Isn't it interesting how "constructive" criticism rarely feels constructive—either to you as you receive the criticism or to the person receiving criticism from you? Criticism is often riddled with blame about how someone "should" have done something or what someone "should" have done instead.

Throughout my life, I have adopted roles of leadership at various times in my life and I have come to realize that in the eyes of others, you will never do everything right. Some you are serving will perceive you create too many rules; others will say you don't provide enough guidance. And on and on it goes, because each individual you serve is looking through their own personal lens of reality. As a result, I have discovered that criticism has very little value. Instead, I have come to realize that in most cases, most of us are simply doing the best we can in the moment, and hind-sight really is 20/20 vision.

Watching the presidential debates last night was a reminder to me about how easy it is to criticize. When you are not the person in the hot seat, making those tough decisions, it is easy to assume you know what decision someone else should be making. What I saw in the presidential debates were two men, doing their best, making mistakes periodically, who truly believe they have the leadership this country needs. Regardless of whose view, I am more aligned with, there were two men on that stage who have committed their lives to making a difference for others. These men represent two distinct points of view about their leadership that in turn represent, in broad manners, the views of many American citizens.

I could applaud one and criticize the other, but that would be the easy path. Politics is one arena where criticism has frequently become an acceptable response, and I'm not seeing it as a response that is in any way elevating our consciousness as spiritual beings. As someone dedicated to spiritual awareness and growth, I have to ask myself, "How do we transcend our propensity to criticize?" From experience, I know the best place for me to begin answering that question is inside myself.

I am harder on me than any other person I know. And when I am in a pendulum swing reaction to that hardness, I refuse to see where I could be more present, kind or thoughtful. In these two extreme views of myself, spiritual awareness seems to be asleep because I am not being very truthful with myself. I am not doing such a bad job that I deserve the rantings of my inner critic. Neither am I so in touch spiritually that I never miss the mark. Depending upon the alignment of the planets, my mood, and my current perceptions about myself, I am both. The truth is, the harder I am on myself in regard to making positive changes of perception, the less I am willing to look at what I might truly like to change.

And so, if I am willing to look at myself with respect and reverence—honestly and truthfully—I will be able to embrace the saint within me with appreciation and address the sinner (in its original meaning—one who misses the mark) with compassion. If I can hold myself in such regard, then I will be able to hold others with the same respect and reverence.

Ah, now I can imagine holding political candidates in mindful regard. I can pray for both of them, see and love their greatness, and pray for the best outcome in the elections for our country and the world. I may vote for my own personal preference, and yet, hold a vision of political and personal interaction filled with reverence and respect.

What would the world be like if we were compassionately honest with ourselves, and compassionate in our interactions with other? What would the world be like if each of us committed to being a little less hard and critical, and a lot more kind?

Interested in some business perspective about "constructive criticism?" Visit "Ask Misa" at the New Dream Foundation Forums: http://www.newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Heart of Offering


This weekend my husband and I visited some friends in Denver. We were invited to join them for a yoga class and I decided to take them up on the offer. My husband and I have been doing yoga together on our own for years and thought it would be wonderful to join with other people and learn a new approach.

As the class began, the instructor invited us to place our hands in prayer position in front of our hearts, and to then make an offering of our class. She reminded us that every pose and every stretch could be a gift offered to another or the planet.

My mind went to the great reliefs on the walls of many temples in Egypt. The ancient progression of drawings there show us how, in their spiritual tradition, each candidate or supplicant brought a gift before making his or her request for teaching, healing or intercession.

Before meals together with my Native brothers and sisters, we make a spirit plate of food that is offered to our brother and sister spirits outside, sharing our bounty of food with them before we fill our own plates. When doing tobacco prayers, we make offerings to Great Spirit and the many beings the Creator has made.

With my Wiccan sisters, many times I have made an offering of candles and flowers on the altar as gifts to the Divine Feminine—honoring the sacred nature of the feminine before making any requests.

With my Hindu friends I have observed the humble offering of puja—giving to God what is truly God's—where even a song can be sung as a gift.

In my Catholic upbringing, we recognized the great offering of Jesus' suffering so that we might not need to suffer. Before my father died, I watched him follow in the same footsteps, offering the suffering caused by his cancer so that others might not need to suffer. I have sung with Native American sundancers, who also offered their suffering so that others might not.

Offering—bringing a gift of beauty, sacrificing pain or discomfort, giving to others in need, sharing from our abundance—are such rich tributes to the Divine and to life itself. Various forms of the practice of offering is done in religious and spiritual traditions across the globe. It makes sense for such a practice to be adopted by so many cultures. For all that we receive, doesn't it make sense to offer something in return—to give to the cycle of life as well as to receive from it?

In an age when so many of us have been focused on getting our needs met (an appropriate response to many years of not having needs met), it is refreshing to me to witness balance—to participate in a practice of willingly sharing from my heart (and in this case my body) what I have to give in the moment. The yoga instructor introduced a great reminder to me about the importance of making offerings whenever I can. She was a good instructor, pushing us gently past our perceived limits, and at the end of class I knew my offering of stretching into some of those poses were real gifts!

For more insights about the spiritual significance of making offerings visit "Ask Misa" at the New Dream Foundation Forums: http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Is Your Gratitude Quotient for You Needing a Little Attention?


I have been addressing some challenging topics lately. One thing I have learned about a true and meaningful spiritual path is that it means the most when we are willing to ask ourselves some of those tough questions. It is easy to talk about spirituality in lofty words and it is relatively easy to feel that yummy, delicious spiritual energy that rises when everyone is in prayer together. But most of the day, we are doing our best to figure out what it means to live a spiritually together life in the midst of turbulent emotions, misunderstandings, bills, strained relationships, etc. The only way I have discovered to truly transcend those challenges is to face them with courage. I'm not talking about beating myself up. I'm talking about honest, compassionate truth and assuming full responsibility for my life. Then after facing myself in raw honesty, I figure I deserve a little recognition.

The person who knows best how dedicated I am to my own spiritual awakening is me. And so, I figure I'm the best person to recognize me. So I let myself know how grateful I am....to myself. Now, I don't eat a bunch of food that isn't good for me or engage in an activity that is ultimately harmful in order to reward myself. I don't figure that approach is truly a reward. What I have learned to do is to feel grateful for me.

If I am an of Divine awareness, then why not be the agent of Divine love for me? The best way I have found to thank myself is to feel gratitude. The feeling really is the juice I'm looking for.

If you are receiving my weekly meditations, you will notice this week's meditation is about breathing in and feeling gratitude for myself. A couple of minutes is all I need to feel wonderful about who I am. Many years ago, it took a lot longer than a couple of minutes, and I cried my way through every breath of gratitude I took because I didn't feel worthy. The good thing about this exercise, is that in continuing to do it, I started feeling more and more worthy.

There are other ways to express gratitude to self. Sometimes it is helpful to write down, act out, sing about, dance or draw self-gratitude. Other times it has meaning to put something special on a personal altar reminding yourself how special you truly are. Put a picture up in your room that simply makes you feel special. Put flowers on a table in honor of you. Light a fire and sip a cup of tea, just because you are you and you deserve a little acknowledgment.

If you are really daring, you might try this. Honor yourself in a special way until you have filled up your gratitude quotient. Then go do something out in the world. Notice what you are like around others when your gratitude quotient is full.

If you would like to receive Reverend Misa's weekly meditations, just sign up with your name and e-mail address at http://www.NewDreamFoundation.com. While you are there, check out the Forums and some of the wonderful free inspiration from our members.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How Can Needs Pull Us Away From Our Purpose?


Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Lately, I've been more aware of the ways I can distract myself from what I am really here to do. At the same time I am noticing the ways people I work with distract themselves from what they are here to do. It is so darned easy to get sucked into the need to be needed, or the need to succeed, and completely get absorbed into a drama rather than fulfilling our purpose.

My challenge is in being distracted by people who seem to be in need of emotional support. It is too easy to let their needs take priority in my life. What I have realized is that helping someone else deal with their emotional fire, allows me to feel needed, which in turn provides me with a temporary sense of meaning and fulfillment, but it is only temporary, because that is not my true work.

How do I know it is not my true work? When I finish I feel good for having helped someone else, but minutes later I'm feeling guilty because I have not made progress toward my own dreams. In reflection, I know I could have spent much less time and given much less energy, encouraging them succinctly, yet compassionately to step into more of their own power. In essence, I gave more than they needed, and I know it. My excessive giving easily creates a dependency on me for answers and disempowers them in fulfilling their own purposes. I have kept the wheel of life out of balance by giving more than they needed. I know the same out of balance nature would be true if I gave too little, and for me personally, the individual I give too little to is me.

I have been observing this with mothers, and I know I can easily slip into this tendency with my adopted daughter and grandchildren. It is just too easy as a mother to think we need to do more for our children than is truly appropriate. How are our children supposed to spread their wings and fulfill their purposes if we are trying to do it for them? How will they ever learn to overcome their fears and triumph in their own spiritual freedom and relationship with the Divine if we are constantly trying to soften their lessons?

I also notice that some of my women friends are hiding their spirituality or not practicing their spiritual beliefs, or fulfilling their true purpose because their husband or partner wouldn't like it. I can't help but wonder how this benefits anyone, when we turn our partners into gods, whose beliefs are more important than fulfilling the promises we made to Divine Source? How do we become our full selves when we give our power over to men or to our fear of being rejected? Isn't something seriously out of balance when we would rather feel needed by a man for what he wants us to be than experience the fulfillment of living our true spiritual passion and purpose? And if we don't have the courage to fulfill our own purposes, how will we ever bring balance to the planet?

With male friends, I notice that the need to make money, be successful, and provide can absorb them in a need to suceed that is not always in alignment with their purposes. Grinding away at jobs they hate, working excessive hours, allowing themselves to be taken advantage of—all in the name of I must provide, I need to be successful, I need more money to live the life I want.......all the while complaining and miserable.....is this any way to live? How is suffering today for tomorrow's potential happiness living in the Divine power of now?

And too many of my male friends are so caught up in the drive for success—practical, concrete action in the world, they won't avail themselves of the incredible spiritual power living within their reach if they would only get still for a while; if only they would have the courage to open the mystical doorways of meditation, ceremony, and quests. Those spiritual insights are the very awarenesses that would catapult their true success in recognizing and fulfilling their Divine purposes. What is the value of material success if it costs in misery today? How does a man's misery and bitterness in his reach for success make the world a better place?

The need to be needed and the need to succeed are energies that on the surface can look as though we are doing such important work. But when we look deeper, they are often actually keeping us from the true work we are here to do. We feel the the fulfillment of our need to be needed when we are in the true service we have come here to offer. We experience the fulfillment of success when we are making the difference we came here to make. And when we are in the flow of being true to ourselves, all else comes — money, influence, happiness, right relationship, health.......it all comes because we are alive and vital, living our true lives. We attract our deepest desires because we are living the best path to our fulfillment.

If fulfillment of your purpose can be facilitated through broad-based spiritual ministry or ceremonies for women, our Apprenticeship Programs for Spiritual Ministry and Women Keepers of the Water Ceremonies begin on September 1st. For more information, visit the home page of our web-site and scroll to the end of the page.http://www.NewDreamFoundation.com

Thursday, August 21, 2008

If It is Meant to Be, the Money Will Come—Does it work?


Some years ago, I discovered how to focus my energy to create the means to do what I need or want to do. I actually discovered this way of focusing energy when I was quite young, but didn't realize what I knew. It wasn't until the death of a friend, that I understood how often I let opportunities slip by, simply because I was saying to myself, "If it is meant to be the money will come."

When I decided I wanted to go to a four year college to get my degree in education, I had no more than a few hundred dollars in the bank. My father and mother were raising six children on a meager income, so they weren't going to be able to put me through college. If I had made my decision about college based upon the dollars available, I would have given up and taken a job doing anything to just create some income.

But I knew I needed to become a teacher. I wanted it with every bone in my body. So I began talking to the college counselors at the community college I was attending. I had been working enough to pay for my room and board and my community college classes, and assumed if I could get myself through my first two years, there must be a scholarship or grant available to help me complete my education.

I was right. And by the next year, I was enrolled in an education program in a university in my home state. Because I received a unique grant that reduced my loan every year that I taught special needs children in low income areas, within only five years after receiving my degree, I was in the fortunate position of having no loan payments to repay.

Fast forward about 25 years. An elder I had met had been sending me psychic messages to visit him. I liked this elder very much and respected him greatly. I could sense there was an opportunity for me to receive some good mentorship from him. I told myself if it was meant to be the money would come. The money never came and I assumed that meant it was never meant to be.

If I had taken this approach when I was ready to go to college, I would have never gotten there. A few years ago, this wonderful man was on his deathbed, and finally I made the decision to go see him. Although I could have argued I didn't have the money to spend, I went anyway, but he died before I arrived.

I was thinking about this some weeks later and realized I was much wiser when I was younger. Instead of giving my desire to the Divine as though it didn't matter one way or another, the creation magic works much better when I have told the Divine I am willing to fulfill my purpose and I am choosing to engage in this decision in order to do it. Then, by telling the Divine what I need and when I need it, the Divine flows through me in creative and attractive ways that get me to my goal.

Remembering this lesson, I receive an invitation to what was for me a very expensive weekend conference. I knew I needed to attend. Instead of withdrawing completely or telling the Divine and myself, the money would be there if it was meant to be, I said a different prayer. I told Spirit I wanted to attend and was open to the creative inspiration that would help me get there. I then sat down to my computer and requested a scholarship, along with an offer to share my sound medicine with the conference coordinator. She accepted my offer and I attended the conference in trade.

"If it was meant to be, the money will come?" in my experience sends a wishy/washy intention to the Divine and the Universe that has not gotten me very good results. However, if I know I have been led to something and I feel in my bones I need the experience I'm being drawn to, I am now more inclined to say, "This is meant to be, show me how to make it happen."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Can Mistakes Be Part of a Bigger Plan?


Well, we are going to have to get some netting or chicken wire over those window wells because four bunnies have now fallen down there. Each one has taught me a valuable lesson, and after this last one, I think it is time to learn those lessons without any trauma for a bunny.

The latest one apparently was injured in the fall. I found it just as we were getting ready to leave so the realtor could show the house to some potential buyers, and I didn't want to traumatize it by trying to get it out in a big hurry, so I put some lettuce out for it and left. When I again remembered the little one was out there, it was getting dark, and if indeed it had been chased by a predator when it had fallen down the window well, it probably happened at dusk, so again, I didn't want to traumatize it any further by lifting it out at that time. So I brought out a box for protection from the rain, a towel to cuddle against and more food.

The next morning, my husband and I went out to retrieve the bunny, but it was very sick and not moving. It may very well have dehydrated and finally I realized the poor thing was injured. I cussed at myself for not doing what I know to do as a healer the moment I found it—to slow down, scan its energy field to check for injury, and check in psychically to see what it needed, rather than what I thought it needed.

Immediately, I gave it some sound medicine and nursed it with dropper-fulls of water. It received both, but I wondered if I was too late. Animals usually respond very quickly to sound medicine, but this little one seemed to be using the medicine to make its crossing rather than to heal. By late afternoon, I felt its spirit leave its body. When I sang its crossing song, I saw it in the spirit world. It turned to look at me and I knew it had wanted to die at my house. I could sense it was doing something for me, but beyond the lesson to create more room for intuitive guidance, even when I'm in a hurry and to balance intuition with logic, I wasn't sure what else it had done for me. I was please to see that its spirit was happy as it hopped into green woods. And I was surprisingly happy too.

That evening, my husband suggested this may have been one of the bunnies that fell into the window well earlier, that we had rescued. "Maybe it was supposed to die," he suggested, "and we delayed it."

"Hmmm. Maybe you are right," I answered. "Maybe my mistake in not tending to it was necessary in order for it to die as was intended. I can see a truth in that, and yet, in the future I will check my intuition in addition to my reason. I would have liked to participate in this more consciously."

The next day, as I reflected on our little friend, I once again noticed how happy I was feeling. I do believe, our rabbit buddy took something with him—some old pain or guilt or something I had been holding on to. I couldn't name exactly what it was and didn't feel a need to define it. Sometimes when such an energy is gone, it is simply better not to name it, so that one doesn't start thinking about it attracting it back in. But, I did offer a big prayer of thanks.

In Cherokee tradition, I was taught by an elder that rabbit represents fear. If my little friend had taken some fear of mine with him, then I knew I had been greatly blessed. Can mistakes be part of a bigger plan? I'm pretty sure they can. Some would say everything is in perfection. I'm not as sure about that. I do think it is good to notice the lessons that come to us and to receive the gifts that are given.

In honor of the gift my little friend gave to me through his very life, I find will remember to continue to surrender my fears and to live a happy life.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Grabbing the Hand of a Bear


It happened again. Another bunny fell down our window well. That means in the past two months, three babies have fallen about 5 feet down to an enclosed area, where they could have died if we hadn't found them. In order to live, they had to accept help from a human. When I shared this story on the phone with a couple of friends, I equated the experience of the bunnies to that of a human stuck in a cave with a bear extending its paw out to help you. Would you let it touch you? Would you let it help you out?

Well this little bunny was far more fearful than the first one and it was not going to let me touch it, medicine song or not. No song was going to help it relax enough to let me lift it up out of the well. Quite honestly, if I was in its position, I don't know if I would let an animal help me! Since, I didn't want to traumatize the little thing, I put some lettuce in the window well along with a towel for it to cuddle against during the night and left it alone.

The next day my husband had an idea about using a box as an elevator. So I brought the baby more food and sent it visual images about being very carefully lifted up in a box. When it was time, my husband and I went to the window well together. The bunny was against the wooden frame of the well, being very, very still. My husband gently scooted the box underneath it, with the open side of the box solidly against the wooden frame. We thought for sure the bunny would be leaping all around the inside of the box, but instead it settled in quietly. My husband slowly lifted the box up to the top, where finally the open end of the box was exposed to the ground. The bunny got out the box slowly, then turned around and looked at him for a few seconds before it bounded off into the woods behind our house.

Having just gotten home from SpiritQuest, I laughed as I told my husband that the word must be out in the neighborhood about rites of passage opportunities for bunnies. I figured the new test of becoming an adult bunny might very well be based upon your willingness to fall down a window well and see if you are rescued. If you let the lady sing to you and lift you up, you have earned your right to be considered an adult. And perhaps now they would add that if you let the man lift you up in a box, this is also worthy of a young bunny's passage into adulthood. We laughed together at the idea that we were now intercessors for rites of passages for bunnies.

Then I got serious. In the rites of passage ceremonies I have personally experienced, I discovered within me a willingness to be humble enough to 1) surrender completely to Spirit, 2) receive help however it comes—from within or without, and 3) die to a fearful part of myself so that I can experience the Divine in more of my life. So I pondered, what it was that I could learn from these bunnies, and what I have deemed their rites of passage experiences.

I wondered, how often Spirit sends help to me that I don't recognize as help? How often am I too afraid, because of all my prior conditioning, to recognize that help may not look like anything I could have ever imagined before. I asked myself, "What if help looked like a bear putting out its paw for me to grab?" "Would I grab it?" "Would I recognize help when it was being offered?"

"Hmmmm," I reflected. "Do I have the courage to take this even deeper?" "Where in my life would I rather do it myself and die trying than receive help—specifically, the only help Spirit seems to be sending?"

Have you ever gotten to one of those questions in your life where you didn't have a fast answer? Well, that's what this question did to me. When I don't have a quick response, I know I'm on the edge of discovery about myself that is going to be very significant. Well, this one must be really important because I am still reflecting on it.

So how about you, is there a bear in your life?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Other People's Lives Are Highly Over-Rated


I get concerned when I hear a public speaker say, "If you follow my steps and do exactly what I did, you too can become as successful I have become." Having been an educator for over 30 years, I don't think I have ever seen someone copy someone else's steps exactly and become as successful as another person. I can't say I have ever seen two people successfully solve a problem or meet a challenge in the same way.

Take a roomful of only 20 people, break them up into four groups of five, and give them all the same challenge to solve, and they will come up with four different solutions. Furthermore, they'll base those solutions on their own experience, knowledge, and aptitudes.

To be even more fair, take three very successful people in the same field and interview them about how they became successful, and you will hear three distinctly unique stories. You might hear some similar themes, and those are certainly worth noting. However, we are all unique in our aptitudes, skills, experience, beliefs, preferences and our intuitive guidance. What you came here to do is not exactly the same as what I came here to do, even if our goals and fields of interest are the same.

Perhaps even more importantly, how we heal and grow spiritually throughout our various experiences in meeting our earthly goals is what the real journey is all about. If I'm occupied copying someone else's life, I'm not really living my own, am I? I'm not listening for and following Spirit's whisperings in my ear because I'm focused on becoming successful by mapping someone else's journey on to my own life. I'm not attending to the spiritual growth opportunities right in front of me, that ultimately define who I am, because I'm following a prescription to an end goal, not following my own path.

Of course, it is wise to listen to and consider the knowledge of someone more accomplished. If you have engaged a teacher, it only makes sense to get as much out of their programs, steps and methodologies as apply to you. You can benefit greatly by learning from others' successes and mistakes.

Yet, other people's successes usually occurred as they worked through their unique set of challenges that were a result of their personality, aptitudes, skills, experiences, and the spiritual purpose they are here to fulfill. Their ultimate successes create new and unique challenges for them to overcome, and hopefully, those new unique challenges, keep them growing.

Other people's lives are their lives. They aren't meant to be adopted by their friends or students. We can over-rate other people's lives when our own is overwhelming or super challenging for us. It is too easy to assume someone else has figured out the answer to success and all we have to do is follow in their foot-steps. Real spiritual growth and its inherent success comes when we have the courage to learn from the wisdom of others, listen to our own inner guidance from Spirit, and then boldly follow our own course—our own special lives.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Does Easy Always Mean It Is Right?


I've been asking this question to some of my peers and associates because it comes up a lot in my work. I'm amazed the number of times someone tells me a decision they have made must not be right because it isn't coming together easily. I certainly understand the desire, maybe even need, to create as much smooth, comfort and ease in one's life as possible. And certainly, when things are flowing well, it affirms the incredible efforts we have made to create that flow, but is it a static indicator of right?

In speaking with a woman who has been studying a marshal art form about this, she indicated that some of the most worthwhile accomplishments are the ones that are challenging to achieve. In other words, without challenge, there is no growth. She questioned whether we ever get beyond our limitations if we aren't going to our edges of discomfort.

I asked a curandera her opinion, and she stated that looking for life to always be easy is a way to avoid growth. She believes we create greater ease as we master our challenges, but we don't when we avoid them. She further suggested that when we avoid our challenges, we often exacerbate the very challenge we are trying to get away from.

In my own experience questing people for the past 12 years, I have discovered tremendous challenges and obstacles often come up for some questers right before they are about to get in the car to drive to Quest. It is as though all of their pent-up or buried fears become manifest in obstacles so that they have an opportunity to overcome them before they get to the hill.

Even participants will encounter perceived obstacles such as fears of camping, exposure to the natural elements, or being near animals. This year one very wise woman called me to talk about her concerns. She told me how she needed to spend more time close to the Mother Earth—how the Mother was calling her—and how she was afraid. She knew her objections were reflections of her fears, and by talking it over with me she was able to see the opportunity in walking through her fears, rather than walking away from them. She came to Quest and was glowing the entire week! She deepened her connection to the Mother by being completely truthful with herself, as she owned her fears and chose to transcend them.

I discovered the same truth the first time I firewalked. Just the thought of firewalking filled me with fear. My stomach tightened up and I nearly panicked, when my friend handed me a flyer and told me she thought I should go. But the fire had been calling to me for some time. I knew the firewalk had a gift for me. So I registered telling myself I didn't have to walk, but I needed to attend in order to honor the call of the fire.

Well, you have probably heard this story already. I did walk, and it was one of the most significant transforming moments of my life. Was it easy? In truth, when I finally got to the head of the fire, it was. You see, I had mastered my fear by just getting to the fire. It was getting to the fire that was difficult and challenging for me. Once the fear was mastered—yes, it was easy.

Imagine the story a butterfly might tell us, "Getting out of the chrysalis was the most tremendous work I could have ever imagined. But now that I'm out, I've never felt so free."

Woody Allen has been known to say, "Eighty percent of life is just showing up." Perhaps he knew saying, "yes to the opportunity" and getting out the door is where the greatest challenge exists. Does easy always mean it is right? Sometimes it does. Sometimes it means we have chosen the right career, goal, project, relationship, or made good health choices. Sometimes easy means we have mastered something already and we are living in our mastery. But I'm willing to bet that when something is difficult, showing up to face it may be equally right.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fathers Who Deserve to Be Honored


Like many of you I have known some remarkable men who have done all they knew to do to be the best fathers they could be, whether their children were their own blood or children they chose to care and provide for. I have seen men live modestly in order that their children might live well, rarely receiving a word of thanks or acknowledgment from anyone. My heart has gone out to the good fathers who are divorced from the mothers of their children, and do everything within their means to continue fathering their children. I have seen men who don't have children of their own, reach out with great love to children who need them. I am in awe of good fathers. I am moved by the depth of their love and their ability to demonstrate that love over and over again.

My own father died many years ago. He comes to me in my dreams now, and some years after he died he pledged to protect me. I didn't know I needed protecting at the time, but more than once he has reached to me through the dream-time, helping me steer clear of my self-made sink holes.

With great delight, I watch my husband, assume the new role of both father and grandpa to my adopted daughter and grandchildren. It may all be new territory for him, but the moment he opens his heart and speaks—well, his heart know exactly what to say—and any apprehensions dissolve into laughter and inspiration. Isn't that one of the great gifts of a father? Someone who knows just what to say to inspire you to be all you desire to be.

On Father's Day, we have many wonderful fathers to be grateful for, don't we? So many dads doing their best. So many men inspiring us! At SpiritQuest, we will be offering a special ceremony for our fathers, and if you are a father of your own children or a father to children (or even adults) who need a fathering touch, we will be holding you in our hearts.

This beautiful Father's Day Prayer has been circulating among the SpiritQuest Council members. The author certainly captures the sentiments that live in the hearts of many of us.



A FATHER'S DAY PRAYER


Let us praise those fathers who have striven to balance the demands of work, marriage, and children with an honest awareness of both joy and sacrifice

Let us praise those fathers who, lacking a good model for a father, have worked to become a good father.

Let us praise those fathers who by their own account were not always there for their children, but who continue to offer those children, now grown, their love and support.

Let us pray for those fathers who have been wounded by the neglect and hostility of their children.

Let us praise those fathers who, despite divorce, have remained in their children's lives.

Let us praise those fathers whose children are adopted, and whose love and support has offered healing.

Let us praise those fathers who, as stepfathers, freely choose the obligation of fatherhood and earned their step children's love and respect.

Let us praise those fathers who have lost a child to death, and continue to hold the child in their heart.

Let us praise those men who have no children, but cherish the next generation as if they were their own.

Let us praise those men who have "fathered" us in their role as mentors and guides.

Let us praise those men who are about to become fathers; may they openly delight in their children.

And let us praise those fathers who have died, but live on in our memory and whose love continues to nurture us.


Kirk Loadman

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Seasons of Manifestation



The first week we moved into our home, we spent long, enjoyable minutes throughout our days just watching the neighborhood deer wander through our wooded yard. They were, and still are, a constant source of wonder and delight to us. On our morning walks, we quickly discovered the older ones hardly seem to notice if you are only feet within reaching distance as you walk by them.

A close friend of our who was visiting, went out three sunny mornings in a row to meditate and greet the sun, in the company of a deer who came to join her by sitting only a few feet away from her. When she left our home before the fourth morning, I wondered if "her deer" would be waiting for her the next day. Indeed the doe was there the following morning sitting in exactly the same spot as she had before.

When these sweet moments of trust and friendship occur, we are reminded that we are part of a greater relationship—a larger circle of life and creation that we actually understand very little about. Yet, when we pause our routines long enough to notice that greater relationship, we have an opportunity to employ time-enduring wisdom in our own acts of creation.

Enjoying our neighbor deer so much, I said to my husband one early June day last year, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could see a fawn?" We had seen a number of bucks and does, but had not yet seen a fawn. And I love baby anythings!

I gave it little more thought as we were getting ready for SpiritQuest in New Mexico. I was expecting a house-full of travelers and excited about meeting with old and new friends. They arrived, on schedule, on Solstice Day. So that evening, my friends joined with me around our patio table as I facilitated our annual Solstice tele-meditation. We were all floating in peace as we ended the meditation, breathing in the sunshine and sweet air around us. Our peaceful reverie was instantly broken by the sound of hoof-beats running down the hillside. A buck jolted itself to a stop about two feet from our deck and only about five feet from the nearest person. He seemed bewildered as he looked at us cautiously. In return, we all gawked with our mouths open at our sudden, but handsome visitor.

We shared this unusual experience with our listeners on the call and then opened up the conversation to those who wanted to experience their insights from the meditation. I then thanked everyone to end the call, when we were once again startled by the sound of another deer racing down the hillside. This time it was a doe and she stopped exactly where the buck had been, looking equally bewildered. By then, we were all in our own state of bewilderment, but smiling widely as we acknowledged the blessing of their presence at the time of our meditation.

The rest of the summer nothing more so dramatic occurred, though we did notice a buck and a doe who seemed to spend a lot of time near each other in our yard throughout the summer. We had not seen pairings like this before. Typically the doe hang out together, the bucks hang out, the bucks are chasing the doe during rutting season, or they are all grazing and mingling together, but not pairs of bucks and does.

Fall and winter passed, and with the spring, I was looking for fawns. I didn't have to look very far, because there in our own yard we got to enjoy the company of the buck, the doe and......yep........a fawn. The three of them spent a great deal of time in the shade of our upper story front deck and grazing on all the greenery in our back yard. So, I spent countless hours looking up from my desk to enjoy the three of them at home and at peace in our secluded little woods.

Enjoying lunch with my husband on the deck, I told him the deer had taught me a valuable lesson about manifestation. If I retraced the series of events that seemed to bring this sweet little fawn into our lives, it went like this. I lovingly spoke an intention and desire. I trusted I would see a fawn but did not attach to when, where, or how that would happen. I did my sacred work—blessing the sun, the plants, the land—the elements of nature that nurture the deer (and us too). Then, when the season was right. Yes, this was the observation that meant so much to me—when the season was right my heart's desire was filled beyond my anticipation.

So now, when I am holding something in my heart that I would love to experience, I remember, it will happen when the season is right.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Manifestation and Bunnies


Ok. This article may not be what you think it is! We aren't going to explore bunny rabbits and cycles of procreation, but we are going to talk about bunnies and creation. Hey, it's spring!

Actually, a truly wonderful experience happened for me this weekend....involving a bunny....and a terrific lesson......and it is a story meant to be shared.

My husband and I have known for some time that a local wild bunny likes to give birth to her babies under our hot tub deck. We assume it is both safe and warm, so an ideal location for raising a family. Next to the hot tub deck, there is a second deck attached to the house and raised up a few feet, with deep window wells next to the wall of the house nearly as tall as me. From time to time, at the end of winter, we have found the remains of some poor bunny at the bottom of the window well, apparently having fallen in—trapped without an escape.

I was headed down to our basement this weekend to clean the windows because we have put our house on the market. (No I don't usually clean those windows because I would rather be writing to you, and yes, look out—we might be moving into your neighborhood.) As I scanned the first window and sized up the grubby job ahead of me, I saw a sweet little baby bunny inside the window well. (Yep, I did the whole thing. "Oh, honey come look there is a sweet little baby bunny here. It's so cuuuuuute." You know how some of us women are around babies of any kind! I'm one of them.)

Now we had to figure out how to get the poor scared baby out of the window well and on to the ground several feet above him and a foot or so above my arms. You might think that would be easy, but bunnies can be fast when they are frightened. When I crawled into the window well with it, the little thing freaked out—running and jumping to get away from me. I probably could have netted it and quickly dumped it out on to the ground. It was a valid solution, but not my style. I could see too clearly the scared little ball of fur in the corner with its heart pounding nearly out of its skin. I had to find a gentler way.

The animals in the area come to me for healing songs, so why not sing to comfort it, I decided. I knelt down and began humming a lullaby-like song to the baby, slowly inching my way toward it as I sang. It's heart-beat slowed down and eventually I was able to put one of my hands on its side, then the other, and finally, gently lifted it in my hands up to ground above us and set it down—singing all the while.

From the baby bunny, I learned an important lesson about patience in my endeavors to manifest. This little one needed me to slow down, remain in my compassion, and stay focused enough for it to overcome its fears so that together we could lift it up to its freedom. How often do I do the same for myself I wondered? How often do I get anxious and needy, and rush the process along—unsatisfactorily? How often am I too frightened to receive help? So what do bunnies have to do with manifestation? A great deal, it seems, and not just when it comes to procreation.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Finding Mother in Mother Earth


Many years ago, my mother left this earth after a long struggle with cancer. In truth, it was a relief to know she was no longer in pain. She deserved her freedom.

We were not very close while she was alive. Oh, we loved each other. We just never had that special appreciation of each other some daughters and mothers seem to have with each other. Her choices didn't make much sense to me, and, it seemed, my choices didn't make sense to her.

About a year after she crossed over, I truly felt the loss of her. Initially, I felt so much relief that I didn't feel the full impact of loosing her. It was on the anniversary of her death that I truly felt the loss of her goodness here. It was amazing to me that as a grown woman, I could still long to be held by my mother, the way she used to hold me as a little girl. But I did and she wasn't there to do it.

Nature became a place in which to console myself as I took long walks reflecting on the nature of what it means to be mother and daughter. It was then, as I cried, and the rain fell, I could feel the empathy of Mother Earth. As I laid in the grass, I felt the Mother's tiny green fingers tickling me. When I stood, looking up into the trees, I felt the warm wind caress my face.

There she was. My Mother. Her body might be different and her means of affection her own, yet I found comfort in Mother Earth. Her touch was as dear to me as my human mother's touch so many years ago.

I have since come to understand we sometimes seek affection in ways that can't be delivered. My human mother could not reach out and hug me physically any more. To yearn for that placed a limit on what comfort I could receive. But Mother Earth could give me the comfort I longed for. And since then, to my delight, my human mother has come to me in many dreams, and we now appreciate each other in ways neither of us experienced here on earth.

The sacred nature of Mother is part of my daily life now. I hear her in the laughter of my daughter as she talks about the antics of her children. I see her in the smiles of my granddaughters who dream of being mothers one day. I recognize her in any woman who genuinely cares about another. I see her strong and beautiful in the body of Mother Earth. And I know her sacred touch through the soft petals of flowers, the bark of her trees, the shade of her leafy limbs—and all the sentient nature of this planet—our Mother.

To read a lovely prayer to Mother Earth spoken by Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount, go here now: http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php/topic,99.msg109.html#msg109

Friday, April 11, 2008

Women's Stories About Re-Creating Their Lives


The Creation Meditation we have introduced is so powerful, I thought you might appreciate these two beautiful stories from women who use the Creation Meditation as part of their practice.


Reweaving the Tapestry of Self and Universal Pain

I am very grateful for this extraordinary gift from the Grandmothers, guiding me and helping me to learn about the womb of creation that lives inside of me and is connected to the primordial source of all.....

In a recent morning meditation I was shown that although we think of our wounds as our own, as if personal, as if we are the creator and owner of our pain and suffering, while this may be true in one sense, in another we are each carrying aspects of the pain and suffering of the heart of the Divine. It is the Divine heart in each of us that seeks wholeness and renewal.

Each time I carry a wound or imbalance into my creation meditation, I am loving and healing an aspect of the Divine heart. As I hold the pain and discomfort and surround it with love and compassion, tears of grief begin to come. The grief is for the long-held separation of this aspect of me from the divine light of love. I find, almost without exception, that each aspect that I hold and cherish in this way releases a longing from within its own nature to return to divine light, to return to the oneness. As each desire for wholeness is fulfilled, the very fabric of my own being is rewoven into a new tapestry of my true self. —Susan Gold


Problems are Dissoved Rather Than Solved
While discussing the Creation Meditation with some women who have been practicing it for a little while I was trying to determine why this is such a wonderful practice. This meditation truly calls to me to bring my fears, resistance, issues and troubles into this process because it so quickly and easily resolves them. Then I had a flash of insight.

I have been meditating for almost 30 years. In all my other meditations when I had a problem or I was facing an issue I wanted to resolve, I would go into the meditation with the intention of asking for the solution to the problem. I would wait in the silence for a vision or guide to inform me or give me direction as to what Action to take.

In the Creation Meditation, I have no intention to resolve any issue or problem. There is no action to be taken. This is a totally feminine space where I hold the issue or problem in total compassion. I just hold the issue until the energy shifts. I don't have to do anything except wait and hold space. It is such a profound place of peace. When the energy shifts, the meditation is done. I come out of it and my heart is lighter, my body feels relaxed and emotionally I am at peace. It is magnificent. —Ariann Thomas

You can listen to a 16 minute recording about the Creation Meditation and How to Do It at http://www.newdreamfoundation.com/WomensPath/CreationMeditation.html

Friday, March 28, 2008

Are You Ready to Re-Create Your Life?


A truly new and beautiful form of self guided meditation has been given to me to share with anyone in need of greater peace, healing, emotional stability, and clarity in their lives. Unlike many meditations that work through the quieting of your mind, this meditation takes you into the quieting of your emotions.

One thing I have learned from years of spiritual counseling is that emotions often drive our actions more than beliefs and thoughts. When the emotional body is calm our mind follows, and we become clear about the choices we need to make for our career, relationships and health.

This beautiful meditation came to me through a Native tradition and was initially done by women only. Now, with so many men aware of the power of their emotions, the time is right for this meditation to be used by both men and women.

The goal of this meditation practice is to release your "limited body" and accept your "limitless self." You could easily call this meditation a practice for becoming enlightened, specifically created with a woman's energy and emotional nature in mind, while still accessible to many men. There are ultimately, three parts to the meditation. It is best to become very familiar and comfortable with the first step before progressing to the second and third steps. It is amazingly simple and easy to guide yourself through the meditation.

Best of all, those who do the meditation on a regular basis are reporting that life long issues are resolving almost effortlessly. You can read some actual stories at the New Dream Foundation web site! The essence of the meditation is this:

Allow your awareness (do not force this, but rather allow) to bring you something you feel limited about. Perhaps it is a fear you have, a concern or doubt, or a feeling that is uncomfortable for you. And hold that limit in the sacredness of your womb. Do not try to fix or change it for that would dishonor the wisdom that lives within the limit. Simply be with the feeling of this limit. As you hold it, feel your compassion swell within you, just as you would feel compassion for a child who was struggling with her or his limits. Simply be in compassion. Do nothing, except Be with it.

It will, in its own time, transform into a peaceful freedom. It might transform the first time you hold the limit in this way. It might take several or many times, but it will transform—on its own—in the presence of your compassion.

I recommend you visit the web site to become a little more familiar with its history and to read about some of the results people have been experiencing. You can go there now by coping and pasting this URL into your browser: http://newdreamfoundation.com/forums/index.php?topic=75.0. Or just go to the tool bar on the right and click on New Dream Foundation. When you get to the site, scroll down to the board on Spiritual Interests and click on Creation Meditation.

If it works for you, remember to pass this along to others who would love to experience more of their limitless nature.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Does Suffering Play a Part in Spirituality?


Over the years I have watched the pendulum swing in my own life when it comes to suffering. Growing up Catholic, I assumed that suffering was part of being a truly spiritual person because that is what Jesus had done for our redemption.

As an adult, I decided after a long bout of depression and grief that suffering was something to be avoided, especially since so many beautiful saints and masters like Jesus have already suffered on our behalf. It only made sense to fully receive their gifts. For the most part, I have received the gift and live most of my own life with a minimum of suffering, balancing the many years I suffered greatly during an earlier part of my adult life.

Though I believe we often take on more suffering than is necessary, I also know sometimes we simply do suffer. When—a loved one dies, when someone you love is seriously ill, you are listening to someone tell their story about being tortured or oppressed; you spend time with someone who has Alzheimer's, lives in a hospital bed, or is an orphan without their family—I realized if I could not suffer with them at least a little bit, I was without compassion. And if I could not suffer in love (ache even a little for my limits, doubts and fears), I was without compassion for me. I needed the powerful love that comes from compassion for myself and others.

Mellowing with time, I'm more inclined to a Buddhist perspective—the clear and simple observation that suffering exists here on earth. The question I then chose to embrace was, "How do I choose to be with suffering?"

A man who had been physically abused by his father told me there was a point when he no longer felt the pain and only felt bliss. I'm not advocating physical abuse, but I was amazed to hear him tell me that as a child he was able to transform pain in such a significant way.

Some years later, I prepared for a ritual burial. That means I was buried in a shallow grave with a breathing tube as a spiritual quest for greater connection with the Divine. The dirt was extremely heavy, allowing me virtually no movement at all for hours. I was extremely hot because of the way the burial was being done, as well as feeling immensely constrained. There was only one thing to do if I wanted spiritual connection and that was to astral project. And so this uncomfortable quest, pushed me beyond my perceived limits into a profound state of sacred awareness.

Suffering happens, and depending upon your belief, through our own choices, by the nature of earth, or by Divine design. When it does occur, suffering can become an opportunity to transcend our limits. And it provides an opportunity for us to feel true loving compassion—and through that compassion to know what is most important in life as an individual and as a spiritual being.

I have discovered as my capacity to hold my suffering and the suffering of others in compassion increases, my ability to share in the passion and joy of others as well as my own life's blessings also grows. This has become an unexpected and welcome outcome of learning how to hold compassion for myself and others. Suffering seems to transcend, almost on its own, when it is held in full and complete love—leaving me in peace, and sometimes bliss.

We will be applying this concept of holding us all in compassion this Equinox, during a tele-meditation called The Tear. During this tele-meditation, we will be holding ourselves, Mother Earth and those we love and care about in feelings of compassion and passion—the tears of sorrow and the tears of joy. As we do so, we will invite the cleansing, healing, and life giving nature of water to nourish human life and Mother Earth. We hope you will join us in this simple, yet profound spiritual response to the challenges of living on earth, as together we transform the suffering of ourselves and others into joy and peace.

For the date and time, visit the calendar at http://www.NewDreamFoundation.com