Archive for the ‘conscious evolution’ Category

As Trump Reduces Wilderness, I Dare to Dream…

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

Canyonlands, Utah

Behind the smoke screen of daily drama in the media, you may have noticed that our President is busy dismantling protection for our wild lands. He has approved a recommendation to reduce protection for Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah—part of the vast land that became protected by the stroke of Clinton’s pen.

It just so happens that this very week, I’ve been reading Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert, by Terry Tempest Williams    Her poetic eloquence, intellectual rigor and passionate defense of the land clearly represents a different world than the one inhabited by our current leadership.

How then, I ask myself, can we bridge these two worlds? How can we—even with less poetic voices—be convincing advocates for the wild, untouched, precious areas in our country and in our lives?

Way back in 1995, Tempest Williams testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Forest & Public Lands Management, objecting to a wilderness bill:

“Mr. Chairman, if you know wilderness in the way you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go. We are talking about the body of the beloved, not real estate. We must ask ourselves as Americans, ‘Can we really survive the worship of our own destructiveness?’”

These issues are, of course, not new. Most wilderness has been created by visionary Presidents. amidst the protest of those whose pocketbooks are lined by extracting resources or developing wild land. Now the vision must come from the people.

Is it any coincidence that this is going on amidst sexual scandals and women speaking out in behalf of their own bodies, as never before? I think not. Women have had good reason to fear speaking about the abuse and disrespect the feminine has been suffering for millennia.

Mother Earth has a body too, and cannot speak for herself except through storms, earthquakes and other responses to the changes she is experiencing. Remember the film Koyaanisqatsi–Life Out of Balance?

“We have forgotten the option of restraint.”

This is not about politics; it is about what we want our legacy to be as human beings.

“It is no longer the survival of the fittest but the survival of compassion.”

When I consulted for organizations who were experiencing internal dysfunction or financial problems, I always returned them to the foundational level of values. Why were they in existence besides making money? What contribution did they want to make? I must ask myself these questions as I go about my own business.

“A nation’s appetite for beauty transcends a state’s hunger for greed.”

I have a voracious appetite for beauty. How about you? I understand greed and the necessity to make a living. And, I stand with communities like the Pachamama Alliance , Bioneers and many conservation organizations, whose voices echo warnings from indigenous elders and the spirits of the the Grandmothers, Grandfathers and ancient ones.

We can find ways to speak in behalf of restraint, of compassion, of love for beauty, of hunger for the wild in the land and in ourselves.

“Who has the strength to see this wave of destruction as a wave of renewal?” Something quickens in me; I think it is hope. I remember:

“We can give birth to deep change, creating a commitment of compassion toward all living things. Our human-centered point of view can evolve into an Earth-centered one….Is this too much to dream? Who imposes restraint on our imagination?”

 

All quotes are from Red, by Terry Tempest Williams

This piece also appears on Huffington Post here.

 

Three Lessons for Now from an Ancient First Nations Culture

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Taking off in a small Turboprop from Vancouver, we left urban life for the Haida Gwaii, a cluster of islands 60 miles west of mainland B.C., and about the same distance from the Alaskan panhandle. Named the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1798, the Haida Nation ceremonially returned the name to the British Crown in 2010. “Haida Gwaii” means “the place, or islands of The People.”

The Haida creation story tells of Raven, a supernatural being, cracking open a clam shell. The Haida People emerged from the shell, and the human race was born. Found objects on the islands have been carbon-dated to 12,500 years ago. One village has been continually inhabited for 1,000 years.

Where had I been? Why did I not know about this tribe? This would be an adventure full of humbling information and lessons that seem very relevant now, during these chaotic and challenging times.

In his fascinating book, The Golden Spruce, John Vaillant  writes that for many, the Haida Gwaii “represent a kind of ‘soul home,’ a wild, native Eden…The islands provide a link to how things were before the arrival of Europeans as well as a glimpse of a possible future.”

We would visit the northern Graham island, where Natives and non-Natives live together and the Haida culture exhibits its resiliency. Then we would don our warmest clothes, climb onto a zodiac wearing oilskin suits over our parkas, and be guided to the southern islands and into the Gwaii Haanas. This National Park Reserve and Heritage Site where we would visit ruins of ancient villages, is accessible only by seaplane or boat.

 

Everywhere we went, we heard about how the Haida have survived through a remarkable story of human endurance. So I listened very carefully for hints about how we, in the midst of a national and planetary crisis, will survive as well.

The lessons I learned were similar to my learnings from visiting and studying other indigenous cultures. There are solid principles that surviving ancient cultures seem to share. They are rooted in the spiritual realm.

For the Haida, supernatural, unseen forces come “out of concealment” and often take the form of humans. And so, like the relationship between land, sea and sky, boundaries between the seen and the unseen are fluid and in constant change.

 

What does not change are several key principles that we would do well to take seriously.

  1. “Yahguundang” does not translate directly into English, but the closest word is “respect” for all things: land, water, air, the supernatural, our ancestors, and each other.

2. From Yahguundang comes the corollary, the “privilege of responsibility.” Haida attorney and artist Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson writes, “The Haida Gwaii (the land) and the supernatural beings decided to believe in us and entrusted us with stewardship or our home and each other.”

3. Humans are part of the natural world and are not superior to animals or other humans.

What would have to change if we lived by these principles?

It’s true that there are hierarchies in the Haida world view and tradition. They divide their ecology into three realms: creatures of the sea, land and sky. Each is organized by rank, with an animal at the top. Killer Whale is chief of the ocean people; Bear is chief of the forest people; and Eagle is chief of sky creatures. Humans are born into one of two “moieties” or groups: the Raven or the Eagle moiety is passed down by the mother, and so is the crest and dozens of clan identifications.

But these designations do not mean “power over” another; they seem to have to do more with respect, honoring and belonging.

How do these laws play out in their culture? That will be the subject of four more articles in this series about the Haida Gwaii and the lessons that we might glean from them. I’ll touch lightly on highlights of their arts and culture; their ecology; their resilience; and their spirituality.

Coming home from the Haida Gwaii in late July and re-entering the crazy world of deteriorating geopolitics, rhetoric and the dumbing down of debate and dialogue makes me more convinced than ever that we need to look at the wisdom we have inherited from our indigenous neighbors. It’s not about going back; it’s about re-membering, putting back together a way of being that has to do with who we truly are and what life really means to us.

For what principle would you really take a stand?

 

 

This post also appears on a Huffpost blog.

 

Seeing Our Way Through the Pachakutiq

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

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The latest earthquake in Japan is said to be an aftershock from the one in 2011, and that means among other things that Mother Earth set a big change in motion back then, and the effects are still going on. Perhaps our electoral, political and psychic earthquake in the U.S. is an aftershock too, a manifestation of unseen forces of change that were already at work long ago.

The ancient Inka people of Peru and their current descendants refer to the pachakutiq, the force that turns the world upside down. The force was named after Pachakutiq Inka Yupanki, 1438-1471, the ruler who transformed the Kingdom of Cusco into the Inca Empire.

Pachakutiq was a conqueror, an empire builder, whose name meant “he who overturns space and time.” But even Pachakutiq had to ultimately bow to death and to Mother Earth, whose power reminds us that we actually are not in charge here.

We live a multi-dimensional life, whether we are conscious of it or not. In our personal world, the pachakutiq occurs when we’re faced with a personal earthquake like a divorce or death of a loved one, or loss of a job. In the collective world, a pachakutiq has occurred with the recent US election, and the aftershocks continue. And in the cosmic dimension, the force you might call God or the Great Mystery is at work too, in ways that are unseen.

What do we do in times of the pachakutiq?

My brother-in-law taught me a lesson about this years ago, when he was suddenly stricken with Guillain-Barre syndrome. Within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, he was unable to dress himself and bound to a wheelchair. By the time I saw him in a rehab facility, he was paralyzed neck down.

“How are you doing emotionally, Bob?” I asked timidly, knowing this was a pathetic, inadequate question.

“Oh, I’m actually fine, now that I made the psychological adjustment,” he answered quickly, as if he had been expecting the question.

“Come on, Bob,” I countered. “How can you make a psychological adjustment to being paralyzed?”

“Oh, but that’s the point. You must.” He had worked this through. “And now that I’ve made it, see those toes on my left foot? You come back next week and I’ll be moving them.”

Clearly he wasn’t paralyzed psychologically, and that’s because he had moved to acceptance. I’m sure he didn’t like being paralyzed, so acceptance didn’t mean approval. It meant he had ceased to allow shock to numb him into a state of denial where action is impossible.

I’m only now moving into a state of acceptance about the election. It does appear that it actually happened, and it also appears that it’s as bad as we originally thought. Given the severity of the aftershocks and the probability of many more, what do we do?

Bob pointed out back then that when we’re dealt a bad hand, we naturally want to give it back. Acceptance means we give up that fantasy. Now we can play our hand, even if it’s not the one we wanted.

Elizabeth Gilbert posed the question, “Who do I want to be in this situation?” Thank you, Elizabeth.

I want to look at the world through two lenses simultaneously, and to have the near view and the big picture work together, even though they seem opposed.

The big picture is that I’m a little creature in a magnificent creation, making me both tiny and grand, a formless bit of the Life force swimming in the great cosmic soup. So out of the big picture lens, I want to see everything as part of the One Being, part of Love. Despite appearances and conditions.

Out of the other lens I see smelly garbage I need to take out, and our latest empire builder making horrifying appointments that seem to overturn time and space. In this dimension, I will not be paralyzed or silent, but will stand for the truth I see with all my heart, wearing as much beauty as I can muster, and perhaps some combat boots hiding under the silk.

We must hold both truths to be self evident: that this is a sacred time when it is foolish to meet the beast with his own energy of fear; and that real Love can be fierce, shaking us all into a place of humility. If we can put these two views together, perhaps that will give us depth perception.

I do not forget that Bob did get up out of that bed and walk again, and even play his own version of tennis. He did not do this out of a desire to conquer, but out of a love for life. And, I know he prayed. I will do the same.

This piece also appeared in Huffington Post, and can be seen at:  Link to article.

Responding to Chaos with Compassion

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

cosmic heart

I love teacher, Lynne Twist’s observation that in these times, it is the role of those on a spiritual path to “do hospice for the old order, while serving as midwives for the new.”  (Lynne Twist) If you are one who believes that the earth and our species are in the midst of a great shift, then this observation can help us digest all that is going on.

As I watch the chaos and comedy of our political scene and the potential disintegration of the Republican party, it helps to think that we are watching the painful death of the old order. After all, who said it would go out without a whimper?

While it appears that things are worse than ever, and that the brash, juvenile, heartless approach of The Donald is evidence, perhaps the opposite is true. What if these are death throes? After all, even those who were “on his side” are finding him intolerable.

Even though on the world scene there is unthinkable violence, perhaps even the incidents of suffering refugees, terrorists crucifying their critics and Chinese mega companies raping the Amazon rainforest are last, frantic gasps of the old order.

The old order is the one where winning is everything, where money rules, where the end justifies the means, where power and force are synonymous. This is not the order that visionaries are dreaming into being. It’s an order that is dying—but not without an enormous, probably prolonged fight.

How do we do hospice for this old, dying order? It’s hard, but spiritual leaders tell us we must have compassion. These are people who are afraid, grasping for control, telling themselves a false story about how right they are. They are in the grasp of the ego.

And the truth is, every one of us struggles to avoid the grasp of the ego. Every one of us experiences being afraid, grasping for control and telling ourselves a false story about how right we are. So even though we are tempted to be morally superior, we are actually connected to the humans whose behaviors we deplore.

Sufi teacher Jamal Rahman points out the important difference between behavior and essence. We can absolutely reject reprehensible, abusive behaviors while remembering that people we think we hate were born children of God. We can draw a line in the sand while not exiling any soul from our hearts. This is like rubbing our heads while patting our stomachs, but it is possible.

And, I think it is what is required now. If we truly believe that love is the answer, that real power comes from the heart and not the fist, then we must stop the hate. Every time we vilify an enemy, we perpetuate hate and fear. What if we kept drawing lines in the sand while sending every supposed enemy love and peace?

This is what heart-centered leadership must look like. And it is how we act as midwives for the new order. I have to believe in the dream of a day ( one I may never see) when force will seem outmoded and weak compared to love, which will be the new currency, the new form of abundance.

We have it in us. This is the time to dig deep for it. We need to persistently seek for love in everything, especially in our own hearts. We are indeed the ones.

Note: This post is on Huffington Post and can be viewed at the author’s archive, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pamela-hale/

Healing vs. Curing

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

mesaBreast Cancer Awareness month is October, and so this month I’ll be focusing on how any of us facing illness can take steps to explore more than repairs and curing. We want healing as well!

Allopathic medicine focuses on repairing what is broken and on fixing symptoms and altering structures that cause disease. I am very grateful for our advances in these areas, since I feel that allopathic medicine is responsible for at least half the reasons why I’m alive today after my two bouts with breast cancer.

And, I’m grateful for my training and experience in the other half of the story, which is about healing. The word “heal” means to make whole again. (And my birth name, Hale, comes from the same root as “heal,” and means strong and hearty. This is why I use that name as my author and professional name. I am becoming more and more “Hale.”)

When we “get” or “have” an illness, there are some steps we can take to make ourselves feel whole again.

 We can remember that it’s “both…and.”

On one hand it’s horrible, frightening, evil, a bad sign, and all the other things we could say along those lines. And, it’s still true that the way the shadows of the mesquite trees are dancing on the wall outside my window is beautiful. Can I hold both the horrifying and the beautiful? Actually, I can. And so, I’ll bet, can you.

We can feed the white wolf.

Remember the story about the man who is followed by a black wolf and a white wolf? He visits the village shaman and tells him how these two wolves fight and follow him, and asks which one will win. “The one you feed,” is the answer. How can you feed the white wolf of beauty, truth and meaning right now?

We can decide to be the well ones.

There is plenty of toxic, sick, fearful, angry energy in our world. We are all tempted to join in, and when we do, we feed that black wolf. So we can decide to say Yes to life, even with its pain and imperfection. We can decide to be healthy emotionally and spiritually even when our body is suffering, and to have well-being.

How do we accomplish these three things? I think we draw on the creative energy within us. For creativity isn’t limited to art; it refers to the ability we have to decide, to make choices, to change and shift things in ways that affect our destiny.

The Divine One isn’t the only Creator; we are co-creators.

Healing involves our claiming our role as co-creators.

We stepped into a world that was already formed, but we create our own experience every day. We create the world within. We create the lens we use to see ourselves and our lives.

How will you create wellness and wholeness for yourself today?

 

This post was adapted from the original, which appeared as Creativity & Healing on theSpiritedWoman.com.

The Pope: an Embodiment of the Sacred Masculine

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

PopeFrancis-8I write this fresh from watching the Pope’s address to Congress, an historic moment that fills my eyes with tears and my heart with hope. As a non-Catholic who has left organized religion, I am deeply moved by the transparent heart he presents to the world, and by the heart-centered leadership he models for us.

My husband is a legal mediator, and so I hear many stories of people who come armed with their stories and their positions, angry and righteous, feeling predatory about getting rewarded for being right. Jon has to try to lift them to a little higher place, where they can look through the lens of their  real interests. Then they may be able to see what those interests have in common with their adversaries’.

The Pope is a mediator for the world right now, reminding us of principles that are in all our interests, regardless of political positions, religious affiliation, class, race, sex or nationality.

All life is sacred. We can all agree on this, and ought to give each other credit for believing this, no matter what we think about abortion.

All people want and deserve the same compassion we want for ourselves. We can all agree on this, no matter how we would vote on social justice issues.

All people want the same possibilities we want for ourselves. We could all agree on this and then move forward with our dialogue about how to provide those possibilities.

We need to protect the earth. This seems like a basic, a principle that would be hard to argue.

Even though these principles could be considered a lecture to Congress, it was delivered in a way that satisfies our human hunger. The Pope, arriving in his little grey Fiat, is humble and real. He comes from poverty. He speaks in a gentle tone, and uses flowing gestures and a soft voice. I would say that the Divine Feminine within his own heart is palpable in his presence.

And, as Holy Father, his role is to embody the spirit of the Christ, updated for this moment. If he is doing this, then that spirit is tender, protective. Who wouldn’t want a figure like the Pope as a kind uncle or grandfather?

The thousands who greet him are clearly hungry and thirsty. Maybe not all of them for religion. But we are hungry for a leadership that “mothers” and “fathers” us in the best sense. A kind of leadership that marries the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine that lies (sometimes hidden) within our own hearts, waiting to be awakened.

The magic alchemy of this awakening is, in this case, a gentle kind of alchemy. Something is touched, and so people appear. Hope is kindled, once again. Maybe we have another chance to save the earth. Maybe we can rise above our silly political positioning. Maybe we can stop demeaning ourselves and others. Maybe we have another chance to be human.

Who is the Divine Feminine?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

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Have you heard a lot about the Divine Feminine re-emerging? What does this mean? Who or what is the Divine Feminine and how can we benefit from Her?

When I traveled in Nepal, the Divine Feminine was everywhere. In the middle of the market were shrines to Kali, or Durga, or other Hindu figures. People and filth abounded and it was hard to tell sometimes if the goddess smelled of incense, urine, food, sweat, or all of the above. She might be covered with filth and/or flowers, but she was accessible, part of life. Sometimes she was portrayed ripping apart an icon of evil or falseness.

Not exactly the image we have of the Divine Feminine as the Virgin Mary, for example. Shouldn’t the Divine Feminine be pure? Beautiful? Enshrined and protected? Full of peace and tenderness?

Of course in many traditions, she is. But as the force in charge of births, she knows about pain and blood and suffering as a way to usher in new life. And as the force in charge of death, she knows about destroying the false that has to die for the true to gain ascendance.

In America, the Divine Feminine is harder to find. In the southwest, we have the Virgin of Guadalupe, who is much more prominent these days. In Latin America, the Virgin is a mainstay, especially for women. In Europe, one can find the Black Madonna.

So, the Divine Feminine is complicated and multi-faceted. Not to be explained by logic, or tamed by too many rules. She is, in fact, wild. And that is why she has been oppressed in so many cultures for so many years. Along with her human feminine counterparts!

These days a lot of spiritual teachers are writing and teaching about the re-emergence of the Divine Feminine. She seems to be showing up everywhere. As Mother Earth, she has been turbulent, unpredictable and changing. As Venus, she has been hidden from us, traveling the underworld, to reappear as a sign of love. As the Virgin, she shows up on screen doors and tree trunks. As Mary Magdalene, she tends those who suffer, and as Kwan Yin, she is the heart of compassion. As the goddess, she has been honored in a variety of renewed ceremonies and myths. And in the form of certain women, we see her incarnate.

These are times of planetary crisis, and so if we ever needed a dose of compassion, tenderness, unbridled fierce protectiveness and signs of death and rebirth, I’d say this is the time.

So, if the Divine Feminine is calling us to awaken, how can we respond? We might begin by looking for her presence, veiled by tradition or culture, at the essence of things. Even, and especially within our own hearts.

Whether you’re male or female, you have the Divine Feminine within your heart. You have that wild, tender, compassionate, fierce force in charge of births and deaths, all within you.

And so I invite you to begin looking everywhere to see signs that it is time to welcome the Divine Feminine back into full equality—in the outer world and in our inner ones. When she has been fully welcomed, hopefully a new balance will begin to be possible in this wild, beautiful complex Earth home.

Is the Divine Feminine Working on Wall Street?

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

woman in market

Seeing the global markets tumble is as unnerving as an earthquake. Beyond questions like, “Will I be able to retire?” and other understandable, personal fears, lie other more global and cosmic ones.

We’ve long suspected that the current way of running the world is not sustainable. And we know that if something isn’t sustainable, it won’t be long before it begins to crumble. We’ve seen institutions and systems crumbling all around us. With them,  we can watch the crumbling of our illusions that the very ground beneath us and the climate around us are stable.

One way to frame this is to say that the energy responsible for the trouble we’re in is the energy of the wounded masculine. The predatory, win-at-all-costs, short-term way of “winning” through force, oppression and marginalization is the masculine in its most harmful form.

Like the masculine, the energy of the feminine has many forms. She is responsible for birth, but also death. Her realm is all matter and the passages it goes through: from seed to flowering, to dissolution, to decay, to rebirth. And so in many traditions, she has both a creative and a fierce aspect.

She is sometimes Kali, who wears the necklace of skulls. She roars onto the battlefield with a sword and cuts off heads of everything false. With the dead bodies strewn around her, she calmly sits down to nurse her baby.

In western culture, images like this one disturb most people.  When I traveled in Nepal, I saw shrines to the Divine Feminine in her fierce form everywhere. In the midst of the marketplace, many of them were covered with filth, and then strewn with flowers. They were honored just as they were, right in the center of human activity. They were not neat or pristine or protected. Many of them were destroyed in the earthquake. They are icons of the Hindu faith in the process of death and rebirth, the faith in destruction of the false as a path.

And so I look at this photo I took of a Nepalese woman in the marketplace of a little mountain village, and I wonder some things. How did she survive the earthquake? Can she still farm her vegetables and support her family? How well is the world and the marketplace supporting her? Is her faith sustaining her?

She is a reminder to me as I glance at the paper or hear the frantic debates in the media. What would be the saving grace of the Divine Feminine in this situation? What are the falsehoods the fierce feminine would destroy? What is trying to be born?

We know that our economy is largely built on a house of cards that is too false to be sustained. Our own welfare is complicated. We are in debt to the Chinese, and everyone is in debt to someone else. So the falsehood of the “dollar” will collapse at some point.

And what is trying to be born? Wall Street may be the most difficult arena for this, but the Divine Feminine in her Creative aspect is a birther, a nurturer. She is at the heart of Creation, and is the heart of Compassion.

And so as she works on Wall Street, she might be seeding a question: what would a compassionate economic system look like? What would truth look like translated into economic terms? It’s time to consider these questions.

Those men and women who are devoted to the Divine Feminine within us all can be devoted now to her re-emergence in the world. She is surely at work in the massive shift we are experiencing. Let us take a stand for her. Surely that could be the revolution that could save us all.

Ode to Serena and the Mastery of Power

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Serena+Williams+04

I’m a big tennis fan, and so Wimbledon on TV was a bonus during this time of recovering from foot surgery. Feeling rather powerless and in need of some inspiration, a second bonus was spotting the invisible battle going on while Serena was winning the singles championship at 33.

Watching the outer battle…I mean, wow. The woman is a national symbol of the potential for feminine power. I remember watching her play with her sister when they were teenagers, the only black feminine faces in a privileged white sport. Not only have they both risen through the ranks, Serena has navigated the politics of sports, become an international star, and now has maintained and surpassed herself. She has overcome injuries, illness, inevitable aging, incredible competition—and is dominant in the world of athletics. That’s power.

Still, in her final match I watched her battle the personal demons that have come out to haunt her on international television in the past. As she admitted in her interview, her biggest challenge is not physical, but mental. Despite all her achievement, training, hard work and success, mastering herself is the hardest work of all.

I have compassion for her in this struggle. Tennis was my sport, and my biggest enemy was myself. I could rip myself apart faster and more viciously than any critic could have managed. I never did master myself through the crucible of tennis.

Watching Serena reminded me of the Hindu story of Arjuna, Krishna and the chariot. Lord Krishna drives a chariot onto the battlefield and Arjuna is a passenger seated in the back. Arjuna represents the embodied individual soul and Krishna, the higher Self– going into the midst of a battle between the armies of our “lower nature” and our Divine nature, on the inner battlefield. The reins are the mind, the horses the senses. And the whole operation works depends on collaboration between them all. (https://chandrugidwani.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/the-significance-of-the-chariot-with-krishna-and-arjuna/)

I saw Serena’s real battle was to harness and channel the huge power she has amassed. It can be used, like all power, for destruction or for good. The bigger the power and the more fully we enter the bigger area, the more intense the tension gets. Looking through my lens it was not, “Will Serena beat Garbine Muguruza?” as much as it was “Will Serena let Arjuna keep the reins?”

Under pressure, we are all tempted to regress into the habit of allowing our ego or smaller self to grab those reins, triggered by whatever bugs us the most. When Serena’s serve goes sour, it must feel like her power is betraying and eluding her. Her ego must want to scream out obscenities and try to force the issue.

The maddening thing is, the opposite is required. The real battle is to create enough quiet to remain the neutral witness, to listen to higher instruction, to trust that magical flow is just outside our reach, possible once again if we relax and allow it. Letting go over forcing the chariot. Trust over fear.

It’s a mighty challenge for every one of us, collectively and individually. And at the top level of sports, we see the truth: that in a battlefield where every top player has already achieved top fitness, strategy and skill, it comes down to the inner stuff.

What we’re all after is Realization, or whatever you’d like to call it. Peace, happiness, joy, flow. We’ve all had it, and we’ve all lost it. Every one of us is on that battlefield and the skirmishes won’t stop, whether we’re playing on a tiny neighborhood court or in the halls of Washington.

Who’s driving your chariot, or piloting your plane? Are you even acquainted with that higher Self? You’ve met her in those moments where the magical flow just swept you along through difficulties you didn’t think you could master. That’s what I’d call your Arjuna, your Divine Self. You could just call it The Friend. I call it Big Pam, as opposed to Little One.

How can you allow the Friend to take the reins again? Well, I think the first step is always, Just STOP. When anger or panic or pushing or striving or forcing has got you by the throat, just STOP.

Now breathe. Just breathe right into the feeling, wherever it lives in your body. Give it a chance. Give it a little space, a little pat. It’s just your own private angry toddler. Surely you won’t let it drive. You know how that ends. DUI’s or worse.

Now ask. Ask your Self, your heart, for help driving this unruly vehicle. Ask, and it shall be given. Maybe you won’t win the match. But you will have practiced your power serve. You will be one step closer to what I see Serena mastering: authentic power.

Finally, thank your inner Self, your master charioteer. Serena thanks her Jehovah God, which used to annoy me. But now I get it. “It is His strength I rely on,” she confessed. You can call your charioteer Joe if you want, or Delilah. But when you have surrendered the reins and harvested the reward, give thanks and then try to keep doing that.

Your inner crowd will stand up and cheer.

 

What to Do When You Get Stung

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

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Two days ago, while trying to help a beautiful looking black bug with broad orange wings to leave the confines of our bathroom, I found that the double layer of toilet paper I used to create a portable cocoon was not enough. I got stung by what turns out to be a “tarantula hawk” wasp. Online I found that their sting is reputed to be the worst insect sting in North America!

I felt stung in more than one way. I felt kind of betrayed. I was trying to be nice, and I got hurt. Ever happen to you? And when it does (because it happens to all of us in some form), how in the world are you supposed to be spiritual?

You might think of your own examples like having the check you reluctantly accepted from someone…bounce. Or having someone you loved a lot betray you. Or find out someone you counted on has just let you down. These all sting. So what to do?

We’ve all experienced letting one hurtful incident ruin our entire day and seemingly take over our whole world. One more thing that went wrong may lead us to the conclusion that everything goes wrong for us, or that the world is evil in general, or that we’re drawing dark energies to us. Going down the victim road step by step, conclusion by conclusion.

Seeing it Through a Different Lens

Here’s a process I tried on myself after the tarantula hawk got me, so that I would not go down the victim road:

  1. Breathe deeply and ask yourself how your heart feels.

Mine answered that it felt hurt and betrayed, whether that made sense to my mind or not. And, my heart said it felt a little hurt that my mind was telling me I was just stupid.

  1. List 3 reasons this might have happened.

Mine were: a) I didn’t know it was a stingy creature. (I’ve lived in Southern AZ for 26 years and never heard of this kind of wasp.) B) I made an assumption that an encounter with an unknown creature was harmless  and c) Maybe I needed to learn a lesson about things that sting.

Take a moment to see if anything seems a little clearer.

 

  1. Do a compassion practice for yourself and the person or creature involved.

Breathe into your own heart and offer it your love and gratitude for how it bears all hurts. See if the hurt lightens a bit. What happens inside your heart?

Imagine breathing the person or creature into your heart and ask what it needed when the “sting” occurred. Maybe you’ll at least see something you didn’t see before, and your feeling of anger or resentment might lift a bit.

Do this practice as many times as it takes, even if it takes days or months. Some stings are bigger than others!

 

In my case, I found out that tarantula hawk wasps don’t sting very often, and only when they feel very threatened. I had to admit that if a giant hand with a tent on it came down over me, I’d sting too, if I could.

My husband was able to get it out into the yard in one (slightly wounded) piece, and it disappeared the next morning. Look out tarantulas! This wasp will capture you, sting you, drag you to a hole, lay an egg on you, and bury you. The larvae that hatch will feed on you alive. A much worse fate than mine!

Even with a more personal “sting” than this one, the compassion practice eventually won out over the anger and resentment that can act like poisons in our system. (They are worse than the original sting.)

I love all the versions of compassion practices when bad things happen. By taking the hurtful thing into our heart rather than chasing it away, we open the possibility of re-framing, or seeing the incident through a different lens. It may not take the sting away, but it’s a whole lot more healing than a bandaid could ever be.

Wishing you sting-free days,

Pam