A Flutter of the Cosmic Cape

December 10, 2017

On Thursday I awoke suddenly to the beating of my heart. It seemed faster than usual. Since the procedure that corrected my atrial fibrillation I have been much more conscious of my heart, I focused, it was still in sinus rhythm then it seemed to miss a beat. I was immediately traumatized; I practically leaped out of bed; the possibility that my atrial fibrillation was coming back deeply disturbed me.

Coping With Denial

At first I did not want to know. I decided to engage in my morning meditation practice hoping it would dissipate by the time I finished. However it still seemed to be beating faster than usual. I made my morning tea, sat for a while with my anxiety then checked my pulse again. It was definitely beating faster than I was used to however it did not have the familiar pattern of the arrhythmia that I had lived with for ten months. My first coping strategy was to suppress what could be happening. I would rather spend the day in denial rather than address the situation. I had an appointment with my cardiologist in less than week; I would try to defer worrying until then.

A Tinge of Relief

I headed to the gym. As I began my 35 minutes on the treadmill, I was apprehensive about what would happen. For ten months the treadmill had not been able to measure my heart beat because of the erratic rhythm. (At the time I had assumed all the machines were broken.) Since my procedure they had worked fine. After fifteen minutes I gingerly placed my hands on the monitors. I practically held my breath waiting the fifteen seconds for the reading. Finally 154 showed up. I gave a sigh of relief and offered up a brief prayer of gratitude. It was not arrhythmia but why was my heart beating less efficiently? It was definitely about ten beats faster than usual. Was I becoming obsessional? Was this something to worry about or was it just within normal range? I knew it wasn’t tachyarrhythmia, the levels would be much higher and it wouldn’t steadily decline.

Slipping into Mindlessness

I did my best to pack my anxiety away and get on with my workout. I was relieved to find it didn’t possess me as I got on with my day. It was only later in the evening that I noticed I had shifted into a state of preoccupation with overlapping mindless activity – Netflix, playing games on my iPad and feeling restless. When this happens it is like a stop sign reminding me I had unresolved anxiety.

Contemplation and Reflection

I decided to spend the last two hours of the day in contemplation and reflection to assess what was going on. I began by putting on some sacred music, then picking up my journal.

I began to unpackage my anxiety. It was not so much about the condition – I had lived with it for ten months; I was fortunate enough to have few side effects. However I certainly did not want to get embroiled in the medical system once again.

The Anxiety Behind the Anxiety

Then I realized what eminent Jungian analyst and author James Hollis describes as the anxiety behind the anxiety. I had undertaken a three-month inner journey as a result of my atrial fibrillation. (See https://wp.me/phAyS-CP) Suddenly I was facing a realization that perhaps my quest for meaning has been nothing but a delusion. Perhaps I had made it up to feel better. This was the real fear – that this inner journey had been for nothing In summary, “I guess feel bummed, and the proponents that life is random win out.”

The Puzzle Unfolds

As I sat reflecting, listening to the beautiful music of Enya, some pieces of my personal puzzle emerged. On Tuesday I had held a dream group. During the evening we drew angel cards and another from a deck called The Nature Speak Oracle by Ted Andrews that had previously offered great insight. On this particular evening I had drawn Courage from the angel cards and Power of Prayer from the nature deck. Neither had seemed particularly relevant then but they certainly did now. Then I recalled a practice I often do when I am suffering from challenges of faith. I review what I refer to as my Soul Journal. It is a collection of meaningful moments on the Soul Journey including something I describe as Moments of Awe and Wonder. It is my “Go To Chest” in times of challenge.

Exploring My Go To Chest

Somewhat synchronistically the previous day I had come across the very first entries when I first started in 2010. As I reviewed I began to capture the list again in my journal.

  • Taking a hiking cane for the first time on the day I broke my ankle, without it I would never have made it off the mountain.
  • Doing a 360 over my handlebars to avoid a small child and finding myself sitting on the ground with no injury as a passerby said “wow that was spectacular”
  • Meeting a woman for the first time in a line up at the library and realizing I had her telephone number in my pocket as someone I wanted to write about.
  • Driving up Mammoth Lakes Road and feeling what I thought was an electric shock. When I stopped I saw a turn-off that I knew I needed to explore and found a couple desperate because they had locked their keys in the car.
  • Having a psychic love affair as a result of which my worldview completely shifted.

In total I recorded eighteen of these moments of awe and wonder. I felt a clarity and calmness. No one contrary incident could cause the experience of years to collapse. My worldview felt affirmed. Perhaps I was supposed to live with atrial fibrillation, if that was my destiny then so be it. I will continue to seek meaning in every experience. It is my way.

Power of Prayer – I Hope

I decided was time to engage in the power of prayer. I have a somewhat dualistic relationship with prayer. I know it works – there are too many amazing stories about prayer. (Check out Larry Dossey’s books on the subject.) But how when and why is all part of what I call the Mystery. Who exactly I am praying to is beyond my comprehension. I don’t believe in praying for specific outcomes for my self. The phrasing of this particular prayer was more a discussion.

“Divine presence within me, I would prefer not to have my atrial fibrillation return but I am willing to accept whatever is for my highest good. In which case I pray for the gift of acceptance and surrender. Maybe it will come back, maybe it won’t, help me to surrender”

An Amazing Shift

I noticed how much better I was feeling. I found a new poem to learn and wrote it out, I did a gratitude meditation and focused on the transmission of positive energy to others. I realized how much better it was to spend my time in this manner as opposed to the mindless television and games playing.

The next morning I felt different. After my meditation I checked my pulse – the gentle, slow beat of my heart had returned. I sat with gratitude in my heart and wondered what I may have been missing.

A Flutter of the Cosmic Cape

The words the fluttering of the cosmic cape came into head. Like the matador fluttering his cape at the bull, perhaps the cosmos had been trying to get my intention.  As I contemplated this possibility, it occurred to me I had lost my way in terms of two practices that used to be a key component of my day. On the day of my episode I had spoken to a friend in Ontario who shared with me her morning practice of music, journaling and contemplation. As she spoke I remembered that used to be my practice before I got an iPad. Then the ability to check e-mail created so many distractions that contemplative practice vanished. Also my evening gratitude practice had also become truncated and squeezed in between TV watching and bed.

Finding My Way

It is time to disengage and set a different focus. My day would begin with meditation; continue with music, journaling and contemplation. At ten in the evening, I would put away my devices and focus on my inner journey. I would try and spend from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. without devices.

Post Script: Missing The Clues

It was only as this particular episode completed that I realized that the flutter of the cape was perhaps the end of a series of hints and clues my Soul had been sending me. (I sense the fluttering of the cape is one step ahead of the cosmic 2 x 4.)

First I burned myself on a hot dish, then I damaged my ribs helping my friend load his truck, spilt a bag of almonds and lost a toque that I was fond of. Then there were two dreams: one with Woody Allen and the other featuring Donald Trump reminding me that if I follow that which is mindless, shallow and inauthentic I will lose out. All small things but certainly suggesting my life had lost its flow. (See my dreamclarity blog for more on the dreams

James Hollis suggests in his book “What Matters Most” that the psyche asks of us what sustains the Soul and what sustains the Spirit and if we do not answer these consciously they will go underground and show up as somatic disorders, behavioral disorders and projections. I sense my Soul was asking the question but I was asleep.

 

 

 

 

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The Soul’s Journey Finding Empowerment With the Medical System

December 7, 2017

Birthday Blues

On Tuesday which happened to be my birthday I awoke at 2:00 a.m. and observed the prospect of more sleep fading like the grin of the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. I set aside my frustration and did my best to engage in my usual insomnia treatment – mindfulness meditation. I soon realized that I was suffering from anxiety about my appointment that morning at the Atrial Fibrillation Clinic. Part of it was fear my A-Fib would return. I did my best to practice a mantra I developed while at a circle at Callonish (a centre that provides emotional and spiritual support for people living with cancer. “It may come back, it may not come back, help me to surrender.”

Then I realized there was a larger anxiety. It concerned telling the cardiologist that I stopped taking my prescribed blood thinner. How did I explain my decision to ignore medical advice? I began taking the blood thinner called Xarelto after my initial diagnosis for two reasons. First it seemed clear there was a much higher risk of stroke from a blood clot if you have A-fib, second they would not do the procedure called cardioversion unless I took it. Cardioversion is a treatment where they shock your heart with an electrical impulse to restore the natural rhythm.

The procedure had worked perfectly for me and almost immediately I observed it felt counter-intuitive to keep taking the drug. My heart was functioning perfectly why did I need it? However my fear of countering medical authority was far greater than trusting my intuition so I carried on.

The Interpreter for the Divine Feminine

Then I woke to a lovely image of Missandei (the beautiful Nathalie Emmanuel) from the Game of Thrones with her arms wrapped around my neck. As I recalled the content, I suspected there was something important encoded by my unconscious into the dream.

The dream had begun with me sitting opposite Missandei and noticing how attracted I was to her. I also realized that I had no idea if my feelings were reciprocated. Then she was standing across from me and performing some kind of mystical enchantment with her hands that was directed at my heart. I knew she was trying to assess whether I was authentic – ‘the real thing”. I felt this glow of warn energy around my heart that expanded until it felt like a blissful golden ball. Then she moved and placed her arms around my neck. I knew she had decided in my favour. I exclaimed, “God I love you but will I get hurt?” Her response was gentle and clear, “I will not hurt you.”

The key to the dream I sensed was figuring out what archetype Missandei represented. I knew she must be an aspect of the divine feminine. It was when I recalled that she was Deanery’s’ interpreter that the meaning began to fall into place.

It was an “ah ha” moment. The interpreter of the divine feminine would be my intuition or inner compass as I have become fond of referring to it. One of the guiding principles of my life today is to follow my inner compass. (It was reclusive poet Emily Dickinson who in a poem observed, “The sailor doesn’t see the north but knows the needle can” that gave rise to the idea of an inner compass.

The Sign That Made The Difference

It was a powerful message to follow my intuition yet I still felt too scared to oppose medical advice. A couple of days later I shared my confusion with my dear friend and dream partner who asked me whether my body gave me any signs on how the drugs were effecting me. I replied that there were few side effects although it was a nuisance no longer being able to take anti-inflammatory products.

That evening to my surprise I glanced down at my left forearm to see a huge discoloured bruise. It was a huge shock! I appeared to be bleeding internally. However it seemed like a clear sign and gave me the courage to immediately stop taking the drug. (A nurse friend of mine told me later that it was probably seepage from the vein that had collapsed when the nurse was inserting an IV. The Xarelto had been doing its job to prevent clotting.)

Now two months later I had an appointment with the cardiologist. I realized I could tell him I was still taking the drug, or offer to start taking it again but both responses seemed inauthentic. As I walked to the clinic I asked for support in finding then words to handle this situation.

It is somewhat ironical to reflect that for many years I had been teaching decision-making at Inspire Health in Vancouver to help people feel more empowered when facing medical authority. I had even written a book titled Life’s Little Book for Big Decisions. Suddenly five years later I am experiencing this challenge in person.

Facing Fear and Staying in Integrity

My appointment went well. The ECG proved my heart was still in sinus rhythm. The nurse asked me about medication and I told her I had stopped. She asked if I knew it was recommended that people of my age stay on the drug to lower risk of stroke and I said “yes”. She did not question my decision. One down, one to go.

The cardiologist had been briefed by the nurse and brought the subject up immediately. He told me that A-Fib could return and the medical recommendation was clear that people of my age and diagnosis were more likely to suffer stroke if they did not take the medication. I told him that I was aware of that. “So why stop the medication?” he asked. The moment of truth had arrived.

The words flowed smoothly and easily like a gentle stream. “It concerns my worldview,” I observed.” Much as I respect the value of western medicine, I believe that healing is much more than just treating the symptom. It is about wholeness and I have done an immense amount of work on exploring what was behind my heart losing its rhythm.” (See https://wp.me/phAyS-CP for more on this) Then I shared with him my fear and apprehension, the power of the dream and the sign of the bleed in my arm that encouraged me to act.

The Joy of Empowerment

He was respectful and empathetic. He said they could work with me in the future if required and perhaps if there were a reoccurrence of my condition I could consider taking the drug again. I responded affirmatively saying I had kept my supply. He discharged me from the care of the clinic and we shook hands. I walked out into the sunshine feeling joyful and empowered. It felt like a wonderful birthday gift.


Poems for SoulClarity 3

November 27, 2017

This is the third in the poems I have learned series. I notice the gap between poems seems to be expanding so only right more.

Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem

and hold it up to the light

like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem

and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room

and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski

across the surface of a poem

waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do

is tie the poem to a chair with rope

and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose

to find out what it really means.

I immediately loved this poem by Billy Collins. It gave me a tremendous sense of freedom from trying to find meaning. It reminded me of why as a child I hated poetry class.

Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

This poem by the late Maya Angelou has so many exquisite phrases. I always begin a Spiritual Coaching Session with a guided meditation and a poem. This one will often result in a projection or transference that leads to meaningful dialogue. One client particularly was drawn to phrase “of things unknown but longed for still”. It caused a deep reflection on his longings.

 Journey by Linda Hogan

The mouth of the river may be beautiful.
It doesn’t remember the womb of its beginning.
It doesn’t look back to where it’s been
or wonder who ahead of it polished the rough stones.
It is following the way
in its fullness,
now like satin,
now cresting,
waters meeting, kindred
to travel gathered together,
all knowing it flows
one way, shining or in shadows.
And me, the animal
I ride wants to drive forward,
its longing not always my own,
overrunning its banks and bounds,
edgeless, spilling along the way
because, as I forget,
it knows everything
is before it.

This is a personal favourite of mine with its remarkable metaphor for the Soul Journey and the sense that dissonance sometimes exist between the inner and outer reality as wel as the sensate and intuitive.

Breath by Kabir (translated by Robert Bly)

Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
not in masses, nor in kirtans, not in legs winding around your
own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me instantly—
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.

Be still, wake up, I say to myself, Stop running around all over the placeAnd look at the eyes gazing at you from the next seat.Today, notice the loving gaze upon you from the next seat.

The wisdom in this poem strikes me deeply every time I recite it. How often am I running around not seeing that which is right in front of me. The depth and richness of the lines “When you really look for me, you will see me instantly—you will find me in the tiniest house of time.” Thanks to Robert Bly for his exquisite rendering particularly the words, “Student, tell me what is God? He is the breath inside the breath.”

The next three poems are represent so clearly where my heart is at the moment. I love to recite them; they resonate at the deepest level of my being. There is so much joy. They all contain a similar message about the full appreciation for these amazing lives we have been gifted. Thank you God for the Persian poets!

 On A Day by Rumi

On a day

when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a day.

My eyes are like the sun that makes promises:
the promise of life
that it always
keeps
each morning.

The living heart gives to us as does that luminous sphere,
both caress the earth with great
tenderness.

There is a breeze that can enter the soul.
This love I know plays a drum. Arms move around me;
who can contain their self before my beauty?

On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open
and the love starts.

Today is such
a day.

This is Now by Rumi

This is now.
Now is, all there is.

Don’t wait for Then.
Strike the spark, light the fire.

Sit at the Beloved’s table.
Feast with gusto, drink your fill.

Then dance
The way branches of jasmine and
cypress dance in a spring wind.

The green earth is your cloth.
Tailor your robe with dignity and grace.

We Have Not Come Here to Take Prisoners by Hafiz

We have not come here to take prisoners
But to surrender ever more deeply
To freedom and joy.

We have not come into this exquisite world
to hold ourselves hostage from love.

Run my dear, From anything
That may not strengthen
Your precious budding wings,
Run like hell, my dear,
From anyone likely to put a sharp knife
Into the sacred, tender vision
Of your beautiful heart.

We have a duty to befriend
Those aspects of obedience of our house
And shout to our reason
“Oh please, oh please
come out and play.”

For we have not come here to take prisoners,
Or to confine our wondrous spirits
But to experience ever and ever more deeply
our divine courage, freedom, and Light!

Yes by William Stafford

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could you know. That’s why we wake
and look out–no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

This last poem became particularly meaningful because it was read in a circle of people many of whom were living with the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis.


The Soul’s Journey – Zen Biking

November 3, 2017

IMG_2596

It is a beautiful Vancouver Fall day. After five days of relentless rain we’re having a gorgeous end to October. I wondered about a bike ride but my last experience had been painful. My bike seemed sluggish and even heavier than usual more like a lumbering rhino than a spirited charger. I had put it down to the colder temperatures and my own lack of practice. Finally I decided a lethargic bike and reluctant rider were better than going to the gym so I dressed warmly and unlocked the restraining padlock. It occurred to me that the tires could have lost some air since summer and when I checked the front it definitely felt soft. To my surprise each tire required sixty strokes of my floor pump. These tires were seriously under inflated.

Flying Like a Gazelle

Finally I was ready to go. I felt the difference immediately. It was dramatic – my lumbering rhino had become a gazelle. What a difference! My ride was relaxing and enjoyable, I could stay in a lower gear range and had time and desire to fully appreciate the beauty of a Fall day.

Rolling Resistance

It was only when I got home and did some research that I found that low tire pressure creates what is termed rolling resistance. This meant that each pedal stroke created less forward motion than usual so my ride was longer and much harder work. Tires naturally lose air over a season and in addition cooler temperatures result in lower tire pressure. During my ride I noticed myself begin to explore the symbolic nature of my experience. In order to eliminate this resistance I first had to check the tires, then I needed to pump and that resulted in air filling the tires. I began to reflect on the applications of this metaphor on the Soul Journey.

Breathe The Free Air My Friend

Air is of course a perfect synonym for breath. Frequently taking time to inhale a breath can change how we respond to any given situation. The parallel to my bike incident revealed itself. First I need check in. Then I have to respond by focusing attention to the breath and then I have do it.

Finding Balance

It is a great practice to see how balanced you feel in the moment. First bring attention to the body, then take a few deep breaths and see what emerges. Occasionally I find my energy id too frenetic and I use the breath to ground myself. (As you breathe imagine you are a tree rooted to the ground.) Then do the same with how you are feeling. I find this particularly helpful when I am feeling inertia and lack of energy. As I bring attention to the breath I often hear the voice, “go for a walk” acting on this invariably enlivens me no matter how bad the weather. Next apply the same focus to your thoughts. Notice as you breathe what is distracting you – is there any negative self talk engaged? Then release it and let it go. Times like this I try and recall Don Miguel Ruiz’s four agreements: Don’t make assumptions, Don’t take it personally, Do your best, Be impeccable to your word.

One More Check-In

Finally my last check in is with the Soul, deeper self, the Force or whatever works for you. Checking in with the breath will often help me see how to connect with what I sometimes think of as “the ground of being”. It helps me remember to feed the Soul perhaps with poetry, a walk, beauty, music, a sacred text or sometimes just to browse through my Soul Journal the repository for mystical and meaningful moments in my life.

Rolling resistance does not just apply to bikes; it’s the force that prevents us from doing that which serves our best. So check-in, take some breaths and fly.


The Soul’s Journey – Introduction to the Shadow

October 7, 2017

Recently I met my small Spiritual Guidance Group. Due to cancellations and other commitments the group had been reduced to three of us who had been meeting for the past couple of years. One had recently begun the Art of Spiritual Guidance Program, a two-year journey with Atum O’Kane. She shared with us that one of the primary topics of conversation had been the weekend of the shadow that would take place in year two.

She indicated that she was fearful of doing shadow work to which her colleague responded that she was interested to know about what all this shadow talk means.

So I dismissed my prepared agenda and we began an evening long discussion of shadow. I explained that shadow was much more than one thing. We did not have a shadow we have shadow. I like eminent Jungian Robert Johnson’s concept that we all walk around with a metaphoric large black  bag over our shoulder. In it we place all the shaming, disowned, and unacceptable traits that were rejected as we grew up. James Hollis another brilliant Jungian tells of how as a six year old he strolled on to the front porch sans clothes and was shouted at thus ensuring that shame of the naked body became a shadow trait.

So why should we explore the contents of the black bag? Suppressing our shadow qualities uses up our life energy or qi. In addition that which is kept in darkness can grow in its power over us and manifest in our conscious lives. Also that which is brought into the light loses its power over you. A bit like observing the sun rise and watching the darkness fade away. Finally there is often gold in the shadow.

One of the things that emerged when I did the shadow weekend was this gold. I dressed up in my tux as a playboy, a character that I had played out unconsciously during my thirties and forties. It was illuminating to realize that there was positive energy here that was attractive. I had been working so hard to show I was a “Spiritual Person” that I had lost some of my inherent joyful personality. (To my amusement one of my companions in this program asked if I would go out on a date in my shadow outfit.)

How do we know what shadow is lurking in our unconscious? The best way to discern shadow is to become conscious and responsible of your own life. For example when you find yourself instantly taking a dislike to someone you will find shadow there. They will represent something in your self you dislike. Recently I met someone who triggered me. She seemed to think she knew how I should deal with in a certain situation. The words “insufferable certainty” popped into my head. It not take me long to recognize a shadow characteristic of my own. It makes me especially aware when I am about to fall into that particular hole.

Another mechanism is to notice when you behave in a manner that you felt was unacceptable or over the top. Notice if you react to a comment/situation/email violently. Reaction is generally a sign of shadow engaging.

Another important indicator is your body and your feelings. Notice when you have very strong feelings about something, Observe the currents of energy that run through your body. For example opening a specific email from my teacher caused this current to flood my body and I reacted by dramatically shutting my iPad shift. When I examined it I realized I was feeling judged. As a friend of mine commented it did not read that way to her – shadow behaviour always come back to you.

Another sign is when you feel like a victim – taking responsibility and exploring why you feel like a victim will often reveal shadow.

So how do we get things out of the black bag? Well the first step is awareness. Begin to take more notice of yourself and your inner reactions. To start don’t try and change anything just observe. The second step is acceptance. We learn to take full responsibility for our own behaviour not constantly blaming someone else.

Third we try to understand where the shadow came from. This has been absolutely fascinating work to make sense and understand who we are and why. The same way that Hollis developed shame of the body, I became a chameleon because showing who I truly was caused a reaction from my authoritarian and evangelical Father. I learned to present myself in a way that got me acceptance, the rest went into the black bag.

Then we try to own it and diminish its power over us. This begins to happen through the process of awareness, acceptance, and understanding. Finally we know who we are and that we do not have to be controlled by these subterranean shadow complexes.

A s Robert Johnson said, “The shadow gone autonomous is a terrible monster in our psychic house.” The gift of shadow work is the taming of that monster and reclaiming the disowned gifts that share its lair.


The Soul’s Journey – How I learned to stop worrying and love the Donald.

August 9, 2017

L-CRAIG-STRANGETRUMP

Recently I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation. In layman’s language, an irregular heartbeat. My doctor observed it in my routine check up. I had first noticed it last November, but as I had no other symptoms I had given it no thought. My MD, however was definitively alarmed, threatening to put me on Warfarin – rat poison for goodness sake! However, she ultimately settled for 81mg of aspirin and a referral to the Atrial Fibrillation Clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital.

So what does this have to do with my new relationship with our orange-topped Leader of the Free World? Be patient. All will be revealed.

My belief in the relationship between mind, body, and Soul caused me to immediately begin an enquiry both inside and outside conventional medical treatment.

The physical reasons behind this rhythmic shift, according to the Mayo Clinic, can include: high blood pressure, heart attacks, coronary disease, valve problems, congenital defects, stimulants such as caffeine, stress, sleep apnoea and a host of others. I resigned myself to a journey through the conventional medical system – blood work, an echocardiogram and a heart monitor for twenty-four hours. I also pursued healing on a series of other fronts. I began to have bodywork, started acupuncture along with a series of back exercises. (I had not considered that the spine plays a fundamental role in conducting the signals that cause the heart to beat)

But on the emotional and spiritual side, what could have happened to cause this disharmony?

Clearly my heart had lost its rhythm. That seemed a curious and meaningful metaphor.

I knew that I had first noticed my heart beating irregularly in November of last year. I wondered what could have happened then to trigger such a change, so I sought out my journal and found two entries. Both were on the same subject: My despair at the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.

I began to see the trap I had fallen into. I had become active at seeking out all news that disparaged the new President. I wanted him to fail, to be impeached or resign.

Every day I would look for the most negative articles I could find. I loaded the New York Times app on my phone as well as the New Yorker, who seem to hate him more than anyone else.

I would YouTube all the anti trump comedy shows – John Oliver, Bill Mahr, Saturday Night Live, Seth Grogan – my life became dominated by my anti Trump philosophy.

Ironically I was learning a poem by Hafiz at the same time interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky and titled “We Have Not Come to Take Prisoners”. It includes the phrases: “Run my dear at anything that does not strengthen your precious budding wings. Run like hell my dear from anyone who may stick a sharp knife into the sacred tender vision of your beautiful heart.” I had been doing the opposite. I had been running towards the very thing that had compromised my heart and my desire to live my life through the lens of love and compassion. It was time to change.

So I disengaged. I dropped the obsession and introduced balance.

I no longer sought out the bad. I tried to acknowledge the good and even began a daily practice based on an adaptation of Psalm 15:

Lord, may President Trump be trusted with power.

May he find a passion for justice,

May he speak the truth from his heart.

May he let go of his selfish interests and grow beyond his own limitations.

May he see the wretched as his family and the poor as his flesh and blood.

May he learn to be impartial and worthy of the people’s trust.

May his compassion prove boundless and his kindness astound all the people.

(Thanks to Stephen Mitchel for his exquisite adaptation)

This is a daily prayer I have introduced into my spiritual practice. It took quite a wake up call for me to change, but I have decided it is time to shift from my obsessive negative perspective on the new president to send positive messaging.

I still have doubts this will change Donald Trump, but perhaps it will change me and support me in creating a deeper rhythm of harmony with my heart.

If you would care to join me, who knows? Maybe we can help his heart, too.

NB Special thanks to my friend Lorne Craig who both provided the hilarious cartoon and edited my original to make it so much more coherent.

 


The Souls Journey – How to learn to Say Yes

August 9, 2017

Yes:No - Lorne

My recent blog on “How to Learn to Say No” triggered an unexpected self-awareness. I needed to learn how to say “Yes”. My default response when asked to do something was often “No”. This was intriguing. While I was exploring the mechanisms that caused someone to react with a ‘Yes”, I realized I had the opposite inclination. So what gives?

I realized my initial response would always take care of my own needs and feelings first. In fact I would not naturally consider the impact my response may have on another. For example recently I planned a visit to idyllic Cortes Island where I am fortunate enough to have a second home. One of the gifts of visiting is I get a chance to hang out with a dear friend of many years. One of our shared interests is soccer and when he knew of my intention to come he suggested we watch the Confederation Cup Final together. As my interest in the sport wanes in the warmer weather, I abruptly dismissed the idea. It was not until I began this inquiry that I began a process of reconsidering my reaction. Suddenly I began to see that that this was not about soccer but friendship. It never entered my head that he may have extended the invitation because he wanted to see me. At no time had I considered the feelings that may have been behind the invite.

So why, when faced with choice, is my automatic response more likely to be no, and what can I do to become more conscious in my decision as opposed to reactive? Once again I suspected this is a pattern created in childhood by a coping mechanism. However while I find the situation that is likely to create the reaction of “Yes” easy to comprehend, I could not immediately see what circumstances may lead to the opposite result.

Those who can only say yes are likely influenced by demanding or narcissistic parents where yes is rewarded whereas no could result in a withdrawal of affection and the like. So under what circumstances could “No” become the answer that gets rewarded and affirmed.

I sense the key must lie in my early dependence as a child. At the age of six my mother had a baby girl; my younger brother was only four and she had three older children to care for as well. As a result I became extremely independent.

As a therapist suggested later my needs weren’t being met yet my self-sufficiency as such resulted in this not being a problem. My universe became that containing me and my younger sibling. We create a world that was autonomous of the world around us. Under those circumstances it seems reasonable that self-preservation of this entity became the coping mechanism and a natural consequence of that was to reject things that interfered. In this way saying no, unless it clearly served the primary scenario would emerge as a natural result. Thus my automatic response to anything that does not immediately resonate with serving myself is “No”.

So how to change? Well the first step in this as in any other healing journey is awareness. By becoming aware I can begin to notice when the default response is about to manifest. The second step is to play for time – can I let you know later? The third step is consideration of the other – how will they feel if I say no? Is there a higher good to be addressed? How would I feel if I said yes? Finally there is the conscious response which may be either yes or no but it will be a considered response as opposed to a reactive one.

Recently I had scheduled an evening with a small Spiritual Guidance group that I facilitate. When the number dropped to only two people attending I decided it was not worth the time and energy. However both of the remaining people seemed quite upset. They asked if I would meet with them anyway. I noticed my immediate inclination was to say no but I took some time rather than reacting. I realized that perhaps there was a higher good that took precedence over my feelings so I reinstituted the meeting. It was a wonderful rewarding evening that I am so glad I did not miss. As the Hindu proverb says, “you take one step toward God and God comes running towards you.”