Category Archives: oneness

WHERE’S YOUR HEAD AT?

Does your mind ever feel like this? Picture by Katie Lee found on VisualizeUS at http://vi.sualize.us/by_katie_lee_photography_balloons_inspiration_beautiful_picture_5zqt.html
Does your mind ever feel like this? Picture by Katie Lee found on VisualizeUS

A long time ago during my partying days, a group of my friends and I loved to rock out to the electronica song “Where’s you’re head at?” by Basement Jaxx.  I remember dancing on the rooftop of my friends’ enormous shared house on California Street in Washington DC during the summer when the low air quality fog hung over the city as the sun would try to peak through making it more amplified-  and soon, you could always count on that song.  Why am I rambling about this song?  Because I realize how this song has revisited me in a new era of my life, where I am always reflecting on just that- where is my head at?

It is a perfect question at a perfect time where half of what I am reflecting on is perception and mind.  In breaking down perception, the basis for my upcoming book, reflecting on your state of mind and how you are about to react to something is a valuable tool for living a life that is authentic and uncompromising.  What I do realize is that most of the time we are completely unaware of where our head is at- tethered like a balloon full of helium just bobbing along and carried off by any slight wind.

Just recently I orchestrated a large event and made a mistake that really upset someone.  When the victim of my own confused and overwhelmed mind confronted me about it, she expressed with great emotion her unhappiness.  I felt terrible and could not get the moment out of my mind.  I had a running tape of it secured tightly, rolling over and over again.  I relived my own feelings of shame and guilt without end.

When I went to bed that night, I had to acknowledge a few things in order to let it go.

1- Forgiveness of Self- I made a mistake, but running a tape of the incident over and over again in my head was completely unproductive and would give me nothing but more negative “feelings.”

2- Acceptance & Boundaries- I said I was sorry, over and over again, but she chose to still be extremely upset.  It is her choice alone.  There is nothing I could do to change how she felt.  This is a good boundary- that everyone is responsible for their own choices, and that includes in how they react.  My only role would be acceptance, and staying in my integrity.

3- Release & Heal- In accepting and creating a good boundary, the one thing I did have the power to do was envision this other person engaged in feelings of love and happiness.  I bathed the situation in love, and let it go.  Even in our boundary setting, which is primarily a function of the ego-driven mind, I can also recognize that we are inherently connected in spirit, and sending love and envisioning the situation transformed, it will help heal no matter what my mind tells me.

I acknowledge I still feel a little shame.  And I shall need to work on that, continuing with the above process.  But most importantly, I also have the opportunity to practice the new perception in my life that is at the core of my past experiences with situations like this one-

I AM LOVABLE.

Even though I made a mistake as we all do, or else what is the purpose of this life, I am not unlovable, as I might have acted out in the past.  But due to awareness, and processing my old perception of self, I can now come out of situations like that empowered with the knowledge of exactly where my head is at.  Time to groove on!

PEACE- WHY NOT?

Peace_Why_Not
Loving February’s Bloggers for Peace writing challenge so much, I am am starting in January (I know, it’s the last day of the month anyhoo!). Thich Nhat Hanh states, Peace in oneself, Peace in the world.

Thich-Nhat-Hanh-Peace-In-Oneself-Peace-In-The-World

What inspires peace for people? 

What gives people the desire to work for peace?

I have seen so many people downtrodden by the daunting task of even thinking about peace in our world.  Their sadness from seeing the suffering on our planet instills compassion, and then to me- a natural desire inherently occurs- the desire to create peace within our own heart.  As a teacher of how perception affects our reality and the world around us, I truly believe that peace begins within ourselves and it illuminates each person we touch with kindness and a greater compassion for others.

Peace is not a futile effort. 

Seeing the joy and love within the images placed in my “Peace, Why Not?” billboard inspires me to sit with my own heart space and reflect on my motivation and how I connect with the world around me.  This contemplation, if instilled within all of us each day, would continue to grow and light a flame within each person we interact with like candles on a birthday cake.  Our personal work does have an effect on the world, and we must continue to do this work if we wish to change the world.

Mantra: I am a holy vessel of light being used for the greater good of all sentient beings.

This is a sacred mantra for me, and my motivation every day.  See how it works for you, modify it to work for you, encourage yourself to engage in self love and acceptance so your inner peace will light the way for others.

Daily Prompt: Toot Your Horn / The Complement Man

reflections of lonely reeds in water
How am I reflecting your light today?

As a life coach and someone who helps people learn how to give themselves pats on the back for making headway in personal work, I was delighted to see the daily writing prompt today.  On the other hand, I am one of those typical ironic people that also feels like I am being inappropriate for maybe “tooting my own horn.”  I recall a moment in my own personal history where a great uncle figure in my family was bathing me in complements while visiting my childhood home in Virginia.  It was during a time in my life where I was just developing as a girl and felt extremely insecure about being pretty enough or accepted into social groups at school.  As I was basking in the light of these complements my uncle’s wife said to him that she felt like he had said enough and that I didn’t look that pretty.

Talk about a plane taking a nose dive?  Crash and burn.

It is funny to me now on one level.  I can watch the scene like an outsider and laugh at it like a film pointing out the hilarity of the obvious situation my ego was engaged in.  I have found in life that giving complements to others in a way does toot my own horn.  It gives cause to feeling the inherent love that exists in my heart because I am recognizing it in others.  I feel grateful because I can step back and say- this person is so kind, how can I bring more kindness into my life and interaction with others.  I recommend to everyone out there that when you see light in another person, reflect back and know that you could not see that beauty unless you had first recognized it in yourself.  It is the magic trick of life- that mirror reflecting back to you your truth over and over again.

When I lived in DC, there was this guy that would hang out at the top of Dupont Circle and give praise to people as they strolled by.  It was his way of earning a living.  He called himself the “Complement Man”.  Even though it sounds funny- everyone loved him.  He made a conscious decision that if he was going to ask people for money to help him in life, he was going to do something for it- so why not divvy out relevant complements to people?  I say “three cheers!” to that.  How can you also complement yourself today?  How can you be the “Complement Man” (or woman) in your own life or someone else”s life?

IN AN INSTANT- LIFE REMEMBERED

Peace Doves

“Then, in the nightmare of Monday and Tuesday, there was the struggle to keep normal when planes zoomed overhead and guns cracked out at an unseen enemy. There was blackout and suspicion riding the back of wild rumors: Parachutists in the hills! Poison in your food! Starvation and death were all that was left in a tourist bureau paradise.”

Betty McIntosh, Hono­lulu after Pearl Harbor: A report published for the first time, 71 years later, Washington Post 12/7/12

This morning, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I opened up my Washington Post to an amazing experience.  An article written by a now 97 year old woman named Betty McIntosh who was a journalist in Hawaii the day Pearl Harbor took place.  The Washington Post published her article today after 71 years has passed, as the paper she wrote for in Hawaii deemed it too graphic and traumatic for its readers at the time.  The article was written 7 days after Pearl Harbor took place, a piece about the woman’s perspective of a war that began with great uncertainty and fear, during a time that many people view from their heart and safe place in the US- the holidays.

In reading the article, I felt emotional and wanted to relate her experiences to something deep inside of me that continues on its human course to heal.  This journey that we are all on ebbs and flows with our fear and our light’s inner knowing.  We oscillate between feelings of love and safety to feelings of uncertainty and sadness.  The pendulum between the ego-driven mind and our connection to the divine, our inherent truth.

“For seven ghastly, confused days, we have been at war. To the women of Hawaii, it has meant a total disruption of home life, a sudden acclimation to blackout nights, terrifying rumors, fear of the unknown as planes drone overhead and lorries shriek through the streets.”

Betty McIntosh points out how on the morning of Pearl Harbor it was a lazy Sunday with people coming out of church still in their reality that a war could not possibly be taking place on their island.  Her narrative takes us on a journey of coming to terms with the reality.  Yes, a war was taking place, and as she walked deeper and deeper into that reality she saw things that shattered the safe place that most knew to be home.  The forest of destruction became thicker with every movement.  There are people still experiencing this in our world, every day, coming to terms with the expansiveness of the human existence and how our reality can so easily be shaken because it is so tightly bound with our expectations and what we are “used” to.

In our experience as fragile human beings, I find it important to remember that each day we could still possibly experience this same thing including our own death.  We don’t know what plane will be ready to take off in our reality and we can’t count on our expectations because they are rooted in our desires rather than possibility.  The only thing we can count on is our ability to choose our reactions and how we will treat people, what we will do that affects other people.  If we can remember the humanness of our bodies that we experience this reality in every day, we can create a motivation to love.  This is our gift.  It is the greatest gift that we can experience within ourselves and in turn, our experiences with others.  Our oneness will not evaporate like emotion or the quenching of an ego-driven desire.  Our oneness will always be here to reflect on.

During this holiday season, I would like to extend my own kindness to all of you out there in the only way I can- in these words.  I want to say thank you with all of my heart for every moment that you choose to reflect and to love.  Every one of those moments is affecting me right now and my potential to also do good things.  You are my olive branch, you are my peace- and I honor you for all that you have experienced as a human.  Whether those experiences are rooted in trauma or joy, I have experienced the same, and I can relate.

As those during any war come to terms with the darkness in the human existence, I can only honor their experiences of suffering in my own and pray peace.  I pray peace during this holiday season and hope that all may experience it in their interaction with others, so we may all remember that we are simply one.  Pearl Harbor, along with all war, has a purpose now to teach us that life is a pendulum of swinging possibility and to embrace it with a motivation to live in our highest potential.  Let us choose our light and shine, illuminating the path for all to experiences of peace.

When All Is Most Right With The World…

When All Is Most Right With The World…
By: Jessica Burnham

“Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us.”
Ralphie, A Christmas Story

As a young child I remember seeing the classic film, “A Christmas Story.” This quote from the film, “Oh, life is like that. Sometimes, at the height of our revelries, when our joy is at its zenith, when all is most right with the world, the most unthinkable disasters descend upon us,” had a profound effect on me. I always loved the dance of the words, and how true it felt when I was most down on myself. But the big question for me these days regarding this quote has to do with that unshakeable part of being. That part of us that exists regardless of joy or unthinkable disasters. That part of us that always knows “all is most right with the world.”

Why?

I know it is mid-July, and Christmas is nowhere near our thoughts in this moment. But as I sat and pondered a recent experience regarding awareness and what it means to be free of attachment- I heard Ralphie’s famous statement echo from my heart to my mind. I knew it was the perfect statement that related to how I felt. I was exercising when it happened. As I ran, with the beautiful mountains and blue sky in my view, a breeze touched me ever so deeply. In the breeze I truly felt non-attachment and how it frees us from thinking that nothing is ever right in the world.

I had been dwelling on a news piece as I ran, and this burst of energy just whipped through me with the understanding that no matter what I thought about that situation, it didn’t matter. And any emotions I put into the whole idea that something was just plain wrong didn’t matter either. Next, I thought- what if I just acknowledged that it didn’t actually matter? That is when I had that feeling, that understanding, which all really was right with the world. My feelings, my thoughts, my desire to be angry- really didn’t have any consequence to that situation directly. Suddenly this burst of joy just ran through my heart, and I knew the only thing that did matter was my love and how I chose to express myself as divine love in this world.

As humans, we have this great gift that I always yammer on about. Choice! My choice had nothing to do with this deep feeling of everything being right in the world. This feeling was simply there, always- and the minute I knew from my deepest innate nature that no matter how I chose to color the news piece, I would always be unchanged as my awareness. Nothing can change what we are made of, our essence, our being. We are blank coloring books underneath all our projections, thoughts, viewpoints, perceptions. As we grow, we choose different colors to experience a new picture. But underneath all those colors, we simply are awareness.

This glimpse was a beautiful gift. And, it gave me a reference point whenever my viewpoint begins to get out of hand. Each time we find ourselves traveling down that familiar road to defensiveness, judgment or troubling perception, we have the ability to take a deep breath and just act as the witness to this mind activity. There is something deeper that is always simply witnessing without any of these attachments. That is who we truly are, and the more we open our hearts to the possibility of fully engaging in this beingness, the more we will regularly go there without all the drama.

Inner drama, outer drama- it is all the same. Anything we experience inwardly as a rocky experience and attach to will eventually manifest in some perception and/or interaction with the world around us- usually in an unfavorable way. We are the commander of our vessels. Yet, our vessels are part of a larger picture. When we look at a painting, we can see various subject matters. A ship in the ocean is taking part in something. But, the ship is also just there. There really is no place for it to go, except simply be in that moment. And when we stop to enjoy the painting of that moment, we become a part of it. This is life. I am grateful for the beauty of moments. Being present and recognizing that all is right with the world yields a gracefulness that is surely connected to the purity of our beingness, our awareness, no matter the unthinkable disasters.

Knocking on Death’s Door

Knocking on Death’s Door
By: Jessica Burnham

Think not disdainfully on death, but look on it with favor, for even death is one of the things that nature wills.
Marcus Aurelius Antonius, Meditations

The notion of death can be perceived in many ways. Kali the Hindu goddess is deemed the bearer of death and destruction. Many fear the idea of death and destruction that Kali embodies, without thinking about how important it is to our life. Without death and destruction our lives would not be a mirror for our evolution at all. We would remain without growth, enlightenment- and nothing would ever end. We would be living Bill Murray’s life as the eternal weather man in the film Groundhog Day, only it probably wouldn’t be quite that funny.

The great thing about Murray’s character in that film, is that he finally gets sick of trying to die and end everything without ever growing and seeing beyond his self centeredness- and realizes that he has this great opportunity to become something worth living for and for others. Would it not be amazing if we could look at our present life as the eternal Groundhog Day? That this life will continue on after our death, only in another form, and we would still experience the same old crap that we currently experience unless we decide to take hold of this amazing gift and use it for the highest good of all sentient beings?

Grace has given many of us experiences that show us how fleeting our current life is, and the wisdom to take heed. We can choose to use this life to its maximum capacity for our growth as evolving beings, and not only change the world in which we live in- but change the world others live in as well.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. Mahatma Gandhi
This quote by Mahatma Gandhi says it all. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” He certainly did, didn’t he? The thing is, we will live forever and if not in this life, or maybe in the next, we will all experience what we are meant to experience- the understanding that every moment is a moment of dying or ending. Only it is not the way our ego perceives dying. It is the end of something completed, only to give rise to the next step, phase, experience; yielding to us the present moment- a moment without attachment to anything in the past or future.

In my coaching work, we are taught to ask this question- what are you willing to risk or give up in order to accomplish your goal. I often think of this as- what are we willing to end? What pattern or addiction that we are attached to keeps us chained to our monkey mind’s demands- and does not provide opportunity for growth and evolution?

In Buddhism, they teach a lot about attachment. I was sitting on a plane returning home after visiting family for the holidays. I was reading a book about anger by Thubten Chodron, a Buddhist nun, and I looked over at my significant other wanting affection. I gave him affection- hoping for some in return and it was not granted. I felt bad inside, but didn’t say anything. Then I looked at my book and began reading again. I immediately came to a paragraph about attachment to relationships, and how they feed an expectation for affection. I laughed inside at how amazing the universe delivers these little tidbits when we need them most.

I chose to look inside myself and say- it is time for me to give up this attachment to this personal relationship, and all others. I can love without attaching my expectations and desires to this person. I made the choice for this addiction to end. And hopefully it will not carry over into the next life, if I can continue with my dedication to let go of my mind’s attachment. It is our attachment that makes death appear so daunting. If we were not attached to anything around us, then the idea of death would seem very simple- wouldn’t it? The fear of destruction would end- because change would be okay.

Think about it- this psychology- the fear of ending the fear of something ending. I know that sounds confusing at first- but it is a reality. How many of us really are afraid of ending the attachment to what fear does for us? What does your fear do for you? How does it give you the opportunity to hold onto things that you’ve outgrown? It is like having a co-dependant relationship with your inner demon. This co-dependant relationship is what creates our perceptual hell. Many people are afraid of death, because they don’t know what will happen after they die. But the truth is, we never know what will happen from moment to moment. All we can do is continue our evolution by letting go of our attachment to the fear of the unknown, what some people call death or destruction.