Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Miracles, Love & Healing

Miracle of miracles I'm up from my restless meandering from bed to couch, from chair to floor (even spending time, somewhat inverted with legs up the wall - my back supported along the floor) & I'm heading out for a walk! The sun is shining, Don McLean is singing of American Pie. Stepping out the door "determined to see" looking resolutely forward "I see" shimmering upon my path a quarter. I am reminded to acknowledge & thank an abundant and loving universe.

What gives rise to my speaking of miracles? To begin with the oft taken for granted and "simple" act of walking was once again available to me. Prior to this - my two day affinity for all things sedentary, was brought about by every fibre of soft tissue between my right lower rib cage and pelvis seizing into a collective spasm, that was both excruciating and mobility limiting. Generally the deep tissue of my hip and posterior go about their business, without my paying them any particular attention. In remarkably little time, they had my full consciousness, as they communicated seemingly in protest, no matter which of my activities of daily living I attempted to perform. There had been no traumatic event (at least not currently) that should have rendered me immobile. Still the knowledge of this was of little consequence - the pain was a reality, that seemed disinterested in validation through the identification of origin.

How quickly ones participation in life can be altered - of course sometimes permanently! What to make of this predicament?  Well for better or for worse, I currently have no employer to report to, so it could be reasoned, that I am blessed with time to recover. If the infliction itself is not to be "instructive" likely the time of reduced or altered activity will be! Given my penchant for all things wellness & spirituality oriented - I begin to address the "issue" with a cluster of approaches (with the idea that not unlike a shotgun - you need just point in the general direction of the target and your bound to hit something). I have had "muscle strains" before - worked for years as a nurse (have had first aid training) so I know about heat, cold, rest, inflammation and have access to foam rollers and other tools designed to be effective for "self myofascial release" I have also worked as a personal trainer and fitness coach - so considered myself "qualified" to oversee my recovery. The progressive worsening of symptoms would prove to suggest that release was indeed indicated (as in, let go of what I think I know).

As it happened I was scheduled to volunteer through both days of the weekend (representing a men's work organization, at a Women's show). The initial symptoms were only vaguely present before arriving for shifts (the acuity of the pain became more apparent as the weekend unfolded). As I said, I consciously identify with the living of a spiritual life. I wish I could succinctly explain what that means (I cannot) partly because some of what I have come to discover for myself, is that some aspects of this life, go beyond strict definition and the articulation of experience may still be considered anecdotal. Lacking in "hard evidence"explanations can seem trite in arenas of unbending rationalism. Of course this becomes the "proof" for many, that the spiritual life is pure fabrication. If you find yourself identified thus, you might just want to check out now (unless you are open to exercising some curiosity or just want to stick around for your personal amusement or further "evidence" with which to fuel your present assertions).

From this point forward one would need to be able to at least consider to be true - that all is not as it seems! Consider that "we" as humans (therefore I) am far more than my physicality - though I'll grant you, when physical pain presents sometimes it's easy to forget that temporarily. Given the multidimensional beings that we are, physical symptoms can easily point elsewhere for their origins (i.e. emotional/spiritual etc.) Especially in the absence of a specific identifiable physical trauma - even then, it's not cut & dried (but for now, I won't go there).

So as this is unfolding I'm visualizing my body healing - I begin to "pray" during which I include a willingness to discover what it is my body "is trying to tell me." (this after succumbing to the initial idea that the remedy was to be found through Ibuprofen - which it occurred to me later, was like "gagging the messenger." After being at the women's show for the first day and though not doing anything "physically strenuous" I was still not getting any relief. I reasoned I'm spending my time either standing or sitting engaging in various conversations (almost exclusively with women) raising awareness of resources available for men (young & adult) to look at themselves, examine their beliefs about themselves (as men) past, present and moving to the future. What's working - what isn't? Why not?

At the show representing groups that focus on men, I am struck by what I believe to be the need that not only these male conversations occur, but that they take place within the larger container of humanity.That they might include men & women and the expectations/beliefs placed on each by the other, those of their own gender and them upon themselves.

Meanwhile as my back isn't really improving any - I'm having conversation with friends that are offering prayers of healing. I continue with application of heat & cold, gentle stretching, mineral salt hot baths, prayer, visualization and seeking answers (if not to the relief of pain itself, then what am I to understand about what appears is going on here). Through a friend I am invited to consider the energies of anger and fear. As a writer it is suggested that I write a poem to my aching hip, side and low back expressing love. Later while randomly opening a book that is a comprehensive guide to prayer (not just the "now I lay me down to sleep" variety). I might add I feel resistance to the idea of an expression of love to myself.

The following have been taken from the book: "The Dynamic Laws of Prayer" by Catherine Ponder

 I come across a couple of sections one that expands on the need to begin the practice of prayer by "praying in the body." It goes on to say "your first duty in prayer is to bless your body and help it relax." "Your body needs constant praise and appreciation.""Your body needs your attention and your love, and it awaits your mental instructions."
The other was a reference to the answer to prayers being blocked, by someone or some experience (past or present) that remained "unforgiven."

Again I quote Catherine Ponder:
"Holding onto such a grudge is like holding a hot coal. It will burn you again and again until you let it go."
"Your hurts stand in the way of answered prayers."
"Do you dwell on wrongs and mistreatment's, and carefully preserve them in your memory? You must have the courage to loose them and let them go. Excuses, self-pity, blaming another for your problems, all stand in the way of answered prayers."
"Prayers of forgiveness from and toward those that have abused you or who have persecuted you are the highest form of prayer, yet the hardest. But they are also the most rewarding and soul cleansing."

My journey suggests that I must place myself on the list for forgiveness. Certainly there has been value in gaining understanding the various origins of my personal wounds - but further to that, there has been the need to dig deeper still and come to understand the mistaken beliefs I have taken on either directly from others, or as part of the story I created about myself in response to these life experiences. Largely unconscious belief frame works, they are nonetheless like the "bars of the cage" not "real" but lived as such. Unconscious (therefore invisible) but powerful influences. Prayer as it suggests in the book referenced here, can bring the unconscious to consciousness (darkness to light - or perhaps invites the light, to illuminate where previously darkness resided). It is these mistaken beliefs that directly interfere - I see the author's assertions through my own life experience.

The answer to my prayers with regard to pain are presented to me in both the "suggestions" from my friend and the contents of the book (I "happened" to pick up). They point at not only the need to love and honour my body as a part of my prayer life, but also give me insight into the non-loving beliefs that "are mine" that are being triggered by my presence at a Women's show (speaking to people about men's healing journey). I could remain focused entirely on the ways that I have been affected by both men and women in my life (including peers and adults) in this I'm not unique. I could speak of fear of judgement (appearing "less" a man in the eyes of the women visiting the exhibits at the show - just as readily, "not measuring up" with respect to the relative few men wandering in the show). Perhaps ordinarily the presence of myself and the fellow I was working the exhibit, might have represented a "safe haven" for these men - cast adrift in a sea of women's products and services (however we represented "men's work"  - whoa no oasis there!)
 There was for me as well,  the invariable question of relevance and being valued (or doing anything of worth) when measured against the popularity of the fire department employees that modelled for the calendar and the "guest appearance" of the soap opera "hotty." I actually know intellectually that none of this matters - but the point is (if I so choose to be open to the insights) my concern for the judgement of others, questions of value and legitimacy, credibility/worth all points to unhealed (non-loving mistaken beliefs) I hold toward myself! (and have for years).

Included in the realization is the need to drop the judgement that I could be "so shallow" as to be effected by any of this (further experience of mine tells me that I can't "intellectualize" nor "spiritualize" my wounds away). The path to healing is through awareness and an ongoing willingness to accept full responsibility for my life (which of course broadens with deepening awareness). The source of the healing is none other than God (not to say that means I don't have a part to play - that in itself, is an evolving path of discovery, with respect to how I am to go about embarking on and fostering, an ongoing relationship with this God. Even saying that would seem perhaps to be rather definitive - it is not my intention within the scope of this post to try and "define" God.

I have come to seek a connection with something "greater than myself" through various circumstances in my life - it has been a journey that has taking me far and wide (and certainly deep). I am convinced there is no turning back and yet there continues to be numerous extensive treatise on aspects of the spiritual life that I have yet to discover exist (not that it is necessary for me to absorb them all - just acknowledging that it is a vast field of pursuit) perhaps far more so than all that has been written or that ever will be written. Nonetheless that in itself is no reason not to make a beginning.

It also doesn't mean that in this case an answer to my prayers might well come in part through the hands of a good massage therapist - even still the massage neither brought about instantaneous healing nor were any of the "insights" here gained through the conversation during the massage.

What I do hold as true is that the origins of the pain are not what they seem and the path to healing is directly affected by what I will accept to be true.

 Love, miracles and healing are the subject of my story - as it turns out they are directly affected by my story!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

What's In a Name?

Perhaps the following disclosure (if nothing else) will be revealing with respect to my age - this past weekend spelled the end of a "land-line" telephone (even that word belies my vintage) at my home. Of course this is of no significance to some - that have perhaps never had such icons of antiquity in their midst (except through ringtones on their cellphone that mimic "old school" ringers).

I wonder if the once self-proclamation establishing "why yes, I am in the book!"will become known only to linguists studying historic lexicon. I have noted "the book" is shrinking even though the population is on the rise (or at least holding its own) - perhaps this is why?

Though not a major milestone (as rights of passage go) and granted, a rather nebulous measure, there could be said to be a time when one's name occupying space upon the pages of "the book" was  a talisman of sorts, of identity. I was now delineated by name, number & address! (all of my own)

Interesting thing this business of "Identity." As a result of being steeped in a society and culture that is largely externally orientated, one can discover that there exists layer upon layer of ideas of "who I am" that potentially can be comprised largely (if not entirely) from that which exists outside myself.

An amusing example (well at least to me) is occurring right this minute as I write this. At the coffee shop I'm currently sitting in, there is playing an "old" Alice Cooper album (yes album... it's actually an L.P. playing upon a turntable). I remember all the words (though I couldn't sing them without the "accompaniment") without question I nearly wore the grooves off those records as a teen ("no more Mr. Nice Guy.... No more Mister Clean.... (though my head does bare a resemblance to the character cast to be "tough on grime" or whatever the conscious invading tagline was: Mr. Clean) this is not my identity nor do I "identify" with Alice Cooper - haven't thought of him for years, even though apparently the moment I'm tapped into the lyrics I remember them better than my PIN #! I can see it now, another forty or so years I could be sitting in some elder care facility - kicking it and wailing out "School's out for summer...... School's out forever.... School's been blown to pieces...")

Fast forward some considerable moons and water under bridges combined with an assortment of realities and this exploration of "identity" continues to occupy my consciousness (maybe more now than ever) in hindsight as a teen (and young adult) I simply didn't really know who I was. Layer upon layer of persona was developed to attempt to portray the requisite "cool" though if I ever managed to dupe anyone else into believing I embodied it - I never felt it. Despite considerable external "makeovers"I never felt comfortable in my own skin.

I am an introvert by nature and given to introspection, combine this with an observation that over time, considerable material belongings came and went, social circles (for as much as I "socialized") were frequently changed (including distinct changes in interest groups - which in itself was a long time coming, as when I was younger, I seldom "joined" anything) cool was the supposition (fear was the reality). All this "change" and still down where the tires meet the pavement, nothing was changing! I suppose in retrospect this could be said to be part of the overall process of coming to  know myself- determining interests through the process of elimination.

In the past five years a fairly long term marriage (17 years) ended and I walked away from a full-time 28 year career.  (Those two, oft said to be "major life transitions" happened inside the same year) I couldn't begin to say now, whether the questions I have of life, brought about the circumstances or the circumstances became the catalyst for the questions - maybe it doesn't matter. What I can tell you is, it wasn't just the loss of so much, so quickly, or even the question of whether it was necessary to "grieve" these voluminous losses - but I began to realize how much I "identified" myself with all of it! So it wasn't a simply a case of loss (of course of itself, that can be a great deal to contend with) if it were (somewhat as in a house fire) I could call the insurance agent, file a claim and replace the stuff. However as it turned out I didn't feel compelled to do that at all. (Replace all the stuff that is, I couldn't for the life of me, feel inspired to pour myself into recreating what I had just left behind). So then it became a case of "well then, what am I about now?" "What matters - what do I want my life to be about now?" "I had put plenty of time and energy (the proverbial blood, sweat and tears) into building some particular reality and future vision and then seemingly in the blink of an eye, it was all gone. It wasn't so much about the stuff per se - it was more the impact of realizing, that I had been so absorbed in the accumulation of the stuff that once that rather large distraction was gone, I no longer knew who I was without it. (Maybe I never knew).

I now recognize that there was much that I didn't know about myself - which is rather remarkable when you consider you're never not with yourself. As it turns out that is not entirely a true statement. (One can certainly be unconscious of themselves in the world - certainly that is true of me). Self-inquiry/exploration is truly fraught with mystery and intrigue. A closer look can reveal that values, beliefs (mistaken and/or limiting) and career path can have been influenced from outside oneself. Of course I made the choices - I have made true, various beliefs resulting in habitual ways of being, which have gone on to produce certain results. But lacking was a high degree of authenticity - as so many decisions were based on fears or really upheld values and beliefs that weren't actually my own. I don't suppose anything a kin to contentment or fulfillment, is possible when living so far out of alignment with myself.  It's not about placing myself above others or beyond the world around me - but rather following my own heart and soul rather than affirm what I am doing in the world based on what others are doing. Interesting to come to understand that it took rather intensive focus on myself in order to realize how unconscious I was of my ways in the world and it's effects. (therefore an application of consciousness directed at unconsciousness to become more conscious).

So when I consider such maxims as "Know Thyself" & "To Thine Ownself be True" I hear implied within, that it's asking something of me - specifically "who are you?" Clearly I can't be true to myself if I don't know who that is.
 The answer was certainly not to be found in what I had or what was I doing (although clues could be found along the way as some clear contrast was demonstrated as to who I wasn't).
I don't guess it's so much at all, about dwelling on my personality based preferences (no doubt if I was hungry enough for example, something I find distasteful would become a delicacy) - it seemingly has been about, coming to know myself as part of something, so much bigger than myself.

It is not at all about making wrong the things of the material world - I did discover that for me there was value in uncovering the unquenchable appetite for more, so that what I do have I really appreciate and lessened the need to maintain unbridled consumption. I'm clear now I'm not my stuff - and that I ran long and hard from myself and hid in the busyness and widespread complexity of a life based on accumulating more.  Eventually I could no longer outrun myself. As the circumstances of my life were never really discussed in anything longer than newsreel like sound-bites - there was never any opportunity (by design) to consider it comprehensively. I got more and more of what it seemed to me was commonly touted as being the requisite elements of "the dream" but it seemed to me to be more like a nightmare (and of course continual outside inquiry and comparison only served to reinforce the thoughts that I must have seriously "missed the boat" because despite following what seemed to be the rules - my constant companion was the question "is this all there is?"not that I had it all but - it came home to me that nothing more outside myself would sate the "hungry ghost" or quiet the roar of discontent (which only I could hear).

It can at times seem to be a lonely pursuit the search for, recognition of and living into, one's self. As it turns out to do so, won't ever be properly demonstrated anywhere, but from within. The search for me has encompassed the teachings of various spiritual paths and though it continues, it doesn't at all times assure deepened clarity. In fact at times, the continued inquiry itself, yields a great deal more questions, than answers. Touching on teachings that attempt to illuminate the consciousness behind the personality (and for me conundrum-like concepts) such as, attempting to know one's self as the "observer" of their thoughts and feelings and the illusion of separation are "mind-blowing" (which I suppose they are meant to be) and though I get some snippets of "understanding" it is not clear to me at this point how coming to know these things more deeply, would alter the way of being "in the world." (in other words how to integrate the expanded awareness into day to day living).

So what can I conclude about this quest for the truth? I don't believe I can draw any conclusions (given a ongoing path of discovery continues to unfold). I will make some associations that I am reasonably sure can be considered universally applicable, within humanity (given I am part of it). I have determined that there is far more to know about myself (even now) than what I would have thought previously (I believe that could be true for everyone). I also believe that as an extension of the previous observation, anyone that is currently in my life can represent an ongoing field of discovery. I don't now - nor perhaps is it possible, that I can ever know, all there is to know of them either (given they are continually evolving and changing too).

Is it necessary for everyone to do this sort of spiritual archaeology? Unquestionably a personal choice - certainly there are gifts to be had in exchange for the effort (not the least of which is, oneself). Does it need to be an all-consuming endeavor? Likely in practical terms, not everyone would be willing or able to invest completely of themselves - so to whatever degree each is able and willing, the fruits are there for the picking - but one must be willing to climb the tree. The point is that not everyone would feel called to spend the time and energy that I have (nor have I necessarily spent the time and energy as some, who may have dedicated much or all, of their entire lives to these sorts of pursuits). My drive to discover some of these truths and passion for spirituality (and it's various paths) does not make it a requirement for everyone else (it could be the means for them to discover their own gifts and purposes - just as easily, the path they are on, may be that which yields for them what it is they need to know - it could be seen as their own "personal ministry" and path through which they express love and healing in the world) - though it may not "conventionally" be seen that way.

I sincerely hope that my continued seeking of the truth in my own life, will provide me with the ongoing insight with which to shape my writing, to then create value for others on their journey.

In closing, I draw once again on the immortal words of another band from my youth: Who are you..... Who..who...Who.. who??