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Thread Resonance

In an odd, zigzagging fashion, I have recently stumbled upon the writings of Jiddu Krishnamurti. I was doing research on astrological rising signs and his name (and cheek bones) caught my attention in a data base I was using. “Who’s this fellow?” I wondered. As it turns out, Krishnamurti (1895-1986) was an extremely well known spiritual philosopher, orator and writer.

Have you ever heard of him? I hadn’t.

Not one who enjoys being in the dark, I did a little digging and found out that he had written a number of books and some, in the reprinting, contained forwards by Aldous Huxley. Now Huxley is a name I know. I have been reading Huxley since I was 18 and I have a good number of his books on my shelf, many of them well-thumbed.

On the basis of that connection, I decided to purchase one of Krishnamurti’s books last weekend. I figured Huxley wouldn’t lead me astray and I was right. I am ABSOLUTELY LOVING Krishnamurti’s work!

In fact, I am enjoying his ideas so much that I now owe my husband an apology because I keep following him around, book in hand saying, “Okay, okay, let me just read you this!”

The poor guy is being force fed Krishnamurti by a fanatic reader who keeps have ah-ha experiences with the material. He’s being a pretty good sport about it too, although he must feel like he’s being ambushed by a guerrilla librarian because I just keep popping up and quoting passages.

I am so jazzed by this discovery, of Krishnamurti’s material, that Monday morning I awoke completely manic, totally excited to keep reading, still riding a dizzying high from what I had already absorbed.

I think the reason I like the material so much is that it has what I call “Thread Resonance” with me. It might not have the same effect on everyone, but for me, Krishnamurti’s thoughts and ideas have been active in my life for a long time, through the work of others who have also felt accord with his perspective.

Here’s the thread for me: I liked the lyrics and poetry of Jim Morrison of The Doors, so I read Morrison’s biography. The biography stated that Morrison was an avid reader of Aldous Huxley (and that the name of The Doors actually came from Huxley’s book, The Doors of Perception.) Huxley, in turn, was a friend of Krishnamurti’s.

Krishnamurti’s work and ideas, therefore, trickled down to me in essence through Morrison, who drew from Huxley, who drew from Krishnamurti. It’s no wonder that I like all three because they are part of the same intellectual lineage. In hippy speak, they have the same vibe.

From my response to the material, it would seem that Krishnamurti was writer zero (i.e. the source) but he may have been influenced and taught by others, so this thread might go back even further. And if it does and I discover that person, my head will probably blow off.

I mention all this because no doubt you have Thread Resonance going on in your life. There are things that speak to you strongly. It might be music, it could be a clothing style, it might be art; it could be a location in the world, a culinary preference, or a type of comedy. You know what draws you, and whatever does is your Thread Resonance.

Explore that which you are drawn to. (‘Follow your Bliss’, as Joseph Campbell says.) If you like something, as I liked The Doors as a teenager, it could be the closest thread that can reach you of a bigger resonance. Engage your interests and you pick up that thread. It will lead you to stronger and stronger resonance if you let it; and you should let it, because what could feel better than to have something in your life that is utterly in tune with you?

From the weekend I just had to the way I’m feeling now, I’d have to answer: Nothing!

Crystal

 

 

Aabab the Mocking Jerk

A few years ago when I entered the new and perplexing world of cell phone texting, I found out the hard way that one’s phone, if left turned on in a purse (or pocket) can, and will, text gibberish to people on one’s contact list. I discovered this when my girlfriend called me to ascertain whether or not I needed help from 911.

It’s not something she normally calls to ask, so when I inquired as to why, she said that over the last hour she had received approximately twelve texts from my phone conveying disturbing, ominous messages like, “#*%$#$@” and “+$%!&*.” Fairly new to texting herself, and as unfamiliar with the concept of ‘pocket dialing’ as I, she made the natural assumption that I was tied up in a car trunk somewhere texting for help with my eyelid.

I dismissed the incident as a freak accident but a few months later my phone texted her repeatedly from out of the country. It wasn’t as bizarre as it sounds because I was out of the country as well, but the extra $45 on my cell phone bill for the international usage certainly brought to my attention the need to get this rogue texting under control.

 

After a little investigation I discovered two things.

1) My phone dialed my friend because she was first alphabetically on my contact list.

2) I could lock my keypad to prevent this from happening.

So, I locked my keypad, but that didn’t solve the problem because in order for that solution to work, one must lock the phone after every usage and on occasion I would lend my cell to the boys and they wouldn’t remember. Subsequently, my friend kept getting weird trunk-trapped messages from my phone, but now they were originating from my boys’ pockets, not my purse.

Finally, I had what I thought was an ingenious idea. I invented a contact called Aabab (designed to be first alphabetically) and made the number my own cell phone number. That way if the phone pocket dialed it would call itself, keeping my friend from being disturbed while simultaneously serving as a reminder to lock the keypad. A brilliant idea, if only I had remembered to tell my son before I lent him the phone, but I didn’t.

This is what he said when I picked him up from the skate park and asked about his day.

“It was fine, but this jerk named Aabab kept texting me and wouldn’t tell me why.”

Apparently, the text conversation went something like this:  It starts with a pocket dial from contact named Aabab.

Aabab: ##^%&*
My son replies: Who is this? (And the message goes to my phone, which he is using and when he gets it, he assumes it’s an outside person and to make sense of it, he reads it in a taunting tone.)
 Aabab: Who is this?
 
My son: I asked you first.
Aabab: I asked you first.
 
My son: Stop texting me!
Aabab: Stop texting me!
 
My son: I’m not texting you, you’re texting me.
Aabab: I’m not texting you, you’re texting me.
 
My son: You’re a jerk!
Aabab: You’re a jerk!

I considered telling my son the truth, that he had been arguing with himself all afternoon, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was far too amused.

Instead, supressing a huge smile, I said, “Wow, that guy sounds very argumentative!”

Then, as a perverse afterthought, but also to point out the whole you-get-what-you-give principle, I added, “You know, sometimes people just need a little kindness. If that guy ever texts you again, try being nice to him; I’m sure he’ll be nice back.”

I grinned all the way home.

I should probably go stuff a few more dollars into his therapy jar.

 

TEENAGER

No one told me that the word ‘teenager’ has two different meanings. Teenager, the regular word, refers to age, specifically a child
between 13 and 19 years. That’s easy enough and probably doesn’t require an explanation. The other form of the word is TEENAGER written in block caps (likely scribbled that way by a stressed out parent) and pronounced with wide-eyed horror as though one were referring to lord Voldemort. This form of the word indicates a set of attitudes and a repertoire of behaviours that wrinkle a mother’s face, grey her hair, and potentially ignite menopause.

Although I have had teenagers for years, I am now parenting at least one TEENAGER. I’ve morphed from a calm, confident mother into a
sleepless, underappreciated, slightly terrorized woman who is grasping to comprehend what just hit her. What’s even more puzzling is that every time I mention this to parents who’ve been through the experience, all they do is laugh.

I talk about this difficult aspect of parenthood with the full understanding that I have great kids and that this is only a phase. In fact,
during those moments when I’m sitting on the floor in the corner of the room, staring vacantly, hugging my legs and rocking myself, I have been known to whimper this understanding in strained, hopeful vocals, “The kids are great; this is only a phase. The kids are great; this is only a phase.”

Being philosophically minded, I have come to understand that this time is about separation. Not me separating from my sanity as it might appear, but my son and I separating from the roles we have played in each other’s lives thus far. And it has further occurred to me that how this separation plays out sets the stage for how my son makes other emotional breaks and transitions in the future.

If my son and I move from dependency to independence with anger, frustration, threats and judgements, then how will he know how to move past other relationships and situations with grace, respect and love? He won’t. This is the time to show him how to do this.

If I make him feel wrong now for growing into the person he’s becoming, for wanting his freedom and sometimes stumbling as he assumes it,
then blame will always be a part of his transition plan. If I check out and just ignore him, then abandonment will be hardwired as a coping strategy.

If, on the other hand, I show him kindness and compassion now, if I respect his unfolding including some of its TEENAGE choices and bumbles, I show him that separation doesn’t have to mean opposition, that moving on doesn’t have to mean pushing against; it only means space. And space can always be held in loving kindness.

Think back for a moment to how you traversed this gap with your own parents. Was it turbulent? Was it respectful? Was it full of fighting or
was it a gentle letting go? Do you see any parallel between how that time was handled and how you subsequently left relationships, jobs and other situations? I certainly see the link in my own life.

So that’s where I am with this today. I’d be a fool to think I have this TEENAGER thing all figured out, but I think I’m engaging it better. I
still occasionally fume and I sometimes wince, but I’m definitely off the floor and out of the corner. Progress is progress and on this front, I’ll take what I can get.

To be honest, I think I’ve turned a crucial corner because from where I stand now, I see that this phase is of great importance and needs to be
respectfully handled, by me, the parent. As I adjust my approach to reflect that responsibility, I’m keeping the following in mind: perhaps the word TEENAGER is written that way, not because it is a menacing time, but because it has the potential to be a capital experience.

Crystal

 

Copyright 2012 Crystal Eves Inc. 

Wait Three Days

Through the miracle of shared recall I’m going to put a tune into your mind, and if you’re like me, once it’s there you’ll be singing it all day to yourself. Do you remember the song, Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando and Dawn? If you grew up with it, as I did, or if it’s in your past at all, it should already be playing in your head.

If not, here’s a link so you’ll know what I’m talking about:

 Knock Three Times

The video quality is a little gritty, but then so is my memory so this keeps us on even footing.

Now that we both have this catchy ditty running through our minds, I will tell you that I was a bit grumpy and negative this morning, as we all can get from time to time. And when we do get like this, each of us has a unique set of thoughts that surface. Thoughts that are not productive and that contain just enough truth to make them believable.

My thoughts were, “Oh what’s the point to anything! We’re all going to die eventually; does anything I do actually matter–probably not!” That’s a go-to thought for me. One that’s designed to keep my grump on, because circulating that group of thoughts zaps my enthusiasm for just about anything.

Then I remembered (and good thing I did) my remedy for these moments. Here are the steps I use to combat a negative state of mind:

1)  I notice that I’m having unproductive, negative thoughts.

2)  I ask myself what I’ve been ingesting recently. (Turns out it was chocolate bunnies and alcohol.)

3)  If I’ve been eating well, (I hadn’t been) I ask myself if I have recently let myself down, for example backed down from a challenge, or broken a promise to myself. (If I’ve been eating well and thinking negatively, I usually find that self-betrayal of this nature kicked off the funk.)

4)  Then I remedy the problem discovered in step number 3. I recommit to good nutrition and/or I face that challenge I avoided, and I stay on this path for a minimum of three days.

5)  After 3 days, I revisit my state of mind. Guess what, it has improved.

What I have learned over time and experience is that the mind is tricky and can’t always be trusted to give you the truth. Instead of accurately reflecting reality, the mind often looks for thoughts to explain the mood the body is experiencing. If the body is feeling down because it has been processing sugar and alcohol, then the mind might interpret that most things are pointless, as my mind tried to convince me.

If the spirit is dejected because it feels thwarted by our inability to support its desires, i.e., we chickened out of applying for that job, or we didn’t tell the truth about not wanting to do something, the body also feels low, and again, the mind looks for explanations.

The best thing to do, at least from my experience, is to correct whatever is making the body feel down and to revisit what the mind has to say later. And this is where Tony Orlando and Dawn come in.

Do you still have the tune in your head? Here are some alternate lyrics to help you remember to not engage a negative thought pattern. This is a rewrite of the chorus.

 

Wait Three Days

Oh my darlin’/wait three days/you’ll be thinking better then dear.

Oh oh, feed yourself well/ and face all of those fears.

Oh my sweet thing/wait three days/you’ll be thinking better then dear.

Simply honour yourself/and soon your mind will clear.

Tell me that didn’t just shove any negative thoughts right out of your head! I find it helpful, except that when using this song as a reminder to ‘snap out of it’ there can be an overwhelming urge to stand up and do The Slosh.

Just to clarify for you young readers, The Slosh is a dance and not a drinking binge! : )

 

Crystal

 

Taming the Inner Petulant

Have you ever walked into one of your rooms and been absolutely shocked at its disordered state? I’m not talking about rooms that children ravage; I’m talking about a space that only you are in charge of.

That happened to me a few weeks ago. I walked into my bedroom and my side of the room (not my husband’s side) was completely chaotic. Everywhere I looked there was something out of place. Clothing drawers were partially open with bits of fabric hanging out, jewelry was strewn about, shaky stacks of books towered over a mixed hoard of rumpled and freshly cleaned clothes, dust was settling on a cup of water that must have been two weeks old. I was astonished.

How did this happen? As far as I can remember I’m not a mental patient. Why then did my room look like a lunatic was nesting there? I was afraid to check the mirror for fear I might be wearing a tin foil hat or maybe bright red lipstick on my eyelids.  

What in the world was going on in my head for this to be the outward result?

I mean, it appeared as though I had been attempting, fruitlessly, to shut drawers with sheer mind power. It looked like, just for jollies, I was removing my earrings on the far side of the room and flinging them, with eyes shut, in the general direction of the dresser. From the ridiculous stacks of unrelated reading material, it would not have been unreasonable to assume that I had a chimpanzee as my personal librarian.

Whatever was going on with me, I needed to fix the room, so I immediately set to work.

I counted eight magazines and twelve books on my nightstand. The variety was overwhelming: autobiographies, investing books, recipe collections, business advice, personal development, social networking. I couldn’t possibly be reading and absorbing all those topics at the same time. It wouldn’t fit into anyone’s head, even if they had a tin foil hat.

Trying to read all those subjects at once is like have twelve people talk at you at the same time. Sure, you catch a word here and there but nothing of substance really sinks in. Recognizing that basically I had been acting like an undisciplined child, I decided that going forward I would allow myself only one book and that I would police this rule like a parent.

Right away I found myself in a battle with my Inner Petulant who is used to getting her own way and sulked as soon as she realized she was being forced to behave more reasonably.

I had to hold a firm line to keep her on track.

“No, you can’t have another book until you finish the one you’re reading now.”

“Yes, I know you’re forty-four and should be able to read what you want, but you’re still reading the other book. When you’re done, you can have a new one.”

“I don’t care if you’re bored with that story, just finish it like you planned and then you can read something new.”

At first I found the rule oppressive, but in a short time I noticed that my mind felt clearer as I was no longer bombarded with unlimited choice.

Then I started requiring other things of myself.

“Before you leave your desk for the night, make sure it’s tidy so that you don’t start tomorrow dealing with yesterday’s mess.”

“Yes I know you’re tired, but fold that laundry in the dryer before you go to bed and then it won’t wrinkle.”

“Make sure the dishwasher is ready for dirty dishes in the morning; no one wants to empty that when they’re rushing to get out the door.”

So now, I’ve been rising each morning to a tidy office, an emptied dishwasher, a clean laundry room and my mind is focussed on the one book I am reading. It feels better.

Discipline and limits are funny things. When they are well placed, they usually allow us more freedom and opportunity than they deny.

When our chores are done with regularity, we can have unexpected visitors, we can get creative in clean rooms with useable workspaces and we have the ability to be spontaneous. When we embrace limits and stop doing twenty things at once, we can really be in the moment.

Discipline is the precursor to guilt free enjoyment; limits, once accepted, can stem anxiety and create mental comfort, because we’re not always thinking, “Maybe I should do this, maybe I should do that.”

I think my Inner Petulant is starting to see the merits of both. She’s enjoying the one book she’s reading and she’s relaxing nicely into the free time her discipline has created. If this keeps up, and she becomes even more agreeable, I might also ask her to remove the lipstick from her eyelids.

Yours in serenity,

Crystal

Lofty Words

Some people are dreamers, living lives that blur reality with imagination, and memory with construct. I am such a person and it has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. I can visualize things easily; I have no problem hoping, supposing and living my life theoretically. But, I can also turn my head from pressing, tangible problems expecting, without precedent or proof, that life with be better tomorrow.

Are you a dreamer? You’ll know you are if, like me, your night-time dreams are so vivid and interesting that you are tempted to purchase a ticket and bring popcorn to your night stand before you go to sleep. In addition to awesome nocturnal experiences, a dreamer usually has an easy time visualizing and imagining what might be, sometimes glazing over reality in the process. For this reason, she might have a messy desk, or house, because she can picture what it would look like clean and therefore doesn’t need it to be that way to have the experience.

As a dreamer, I often ‘see’ things when I meditate and last fall, while sitting in quiet contemplation, I had an intriguing visual pop into my head of a wise being placing its hand over mine helping me write. In the image, the ‘helping hand’ was a pure white energy holding a white feather quill. It put its hand over mine and I interpreted that as ‘I’ll be with you when you write’ or ‘I’ll help guide your words.’

That was a cool thing to picture, and since I entered the meditation asking for assistance with writing, I was very pleased and reassured by that image.

I told my family about it and at Christmas my sons gave me a present of a white feathered pen.   It was very much like the one in my meditation. I put the pen on my desk and I only write with it when I am journaling and trying to connect to my deep inner thoughts, or when I am writing something that relates to providing service or guidance to others. I feel like it is a special instrument and I reserve it for sacred things. 

My Feather Pen and Journal

 

I’m having so much fun with it!

A feather pen is a very cool thing to write with!

The air catches the plume when it moves toward the page and it feels lifted even as I lower it to the paper, like someone else is bringing it to the page at their timing, not mine. When I write with it, because the feather resists the air at surprising moments, it adds to the illusion that more than one person is guiding the pen.

I’m finding it an awesome tool and I thought I would tell you about it because fellow dreamers might like how, due to its aerodynamics and its old world look, it feels like it brings a bit of the magic and flourish to the ordinary act of writing, but non dreamers might find it useful too.

Those who have a hard time believing that when they journal for self-discovery they are tapping into something special and sacred, might find that a feather pen gives enough of a physical effect to nudge them into a more receptive, lofty and open state.

If the fresh year is already starting to feel mundane to you, with its realities and everyday pressures, why not get a feather pen and bring some old world charm and inspiration to your desk and writing. At the very least it will be some whimsical fun, and as long as you refrain from wearing white face paint and a large Elizabethan collar (or Harry Potter glasses and a wizard’s hat) while you use it, no one should think you odd.

Yours in whimsy,

Crystal

Teflon Gorgeous

Happy New Year! If you’ve yet to be kissed into 2012, let me offer you a warm, smooching welcome to a year that could, if you like, be Teflon Gorgeous.

What is Teflon Gorgeous, you might ask. It’s a term I came up with for a feeling I’ve been having, a feeling that has been such a blessing in my life that I thought I would share it with those of you who are poised and ready to make some changes now, during the infant months of the year.

Teflon Gorgeous describes how I’ve been feeling ever since I did some emotional surrender work this fall, and aligned with the concept that EVERYTHING, every single event that occurs in life, pleasant or unpleasant, convenient or inconvenient, happy or tragic, is correct.

Byron Katie calls this notion ‘loving what is’. Joseph Campbell called it, ‘joyfully participating in the sorrows of the world’. Abraham-Hicks would say, ‘it’s post-manifestational awareness of the law of attraction’. Christians say ‘God works in mysterious ways,’ and I’m sure many other sages and spiritual teachings have expressions for it as well, but it boils down to the idea that there is some order behind our experience and that trusting what that order brings, or at least not fighting it, is advised.

It is a concept that I have intellectually understood for years. It’s easy enough, right? It simply says, ‘accept life exactly as it is, that your experiences are somehow serving you even when you can’t see it.’

But as with everything, understanding and execution are two very different things. I might understand how to shoot a basketball through a hoop, but it doesn’t mean I can do it. I might know what it takes to learn a new language but that’s no guarantee I’ll choose those actions. So although for decades I understood this idea of ‘everything is as it should be’, it took me 44 years of living to implement it on a daily basis.

What was standing in my way, I think, were a lot of old emotions. I believe this to be true, because when I finally let them go in a huge outpouring this fall, I was able, for the first time, to fully relax into this idea beautifully expressed by Max Ehrmann in Desiderata, that “no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should,” even the minute details of my own life.

So now when one of my sons misses the school bus on a morning when I don’t feel I can afford the time to drive him in, I no longer get annoyed; I simply get curious. “I wonder what this is about,” I ask myself as I go with the unexpected disruption. Curiosity has been an amazing substitution for agitation and annoyance. Many times, while in this open state of wonder, I noticed that the very circumstances that at first seemed out of sync with my plans actually solved a problem for me, or brought me into contact with someone I needed to see.

Like being coated with Teflon, this curious and open response helps problems to ‘not stick’ to me and the result is that life feels Gorgeous, guided and perfect, even when, at first, it looks uncooperative.

I have some thoughts about why an emotional release was necessary for me to adopt this new outlook, but I think I’ll leave that for another time. For now it is enough for me to know that faithful curiosity is a beautiful response that makes life happier, easier and more peaceful, and that practising it is just a matter of dropping judgement and trusting life.

So here in the early days of the year, let me just say that if I could wish you one thing for 2012, I would wish you the ability to embrace all reality with wonder. I would wish your life to be Teflon Gorgeous.

Happy 2012!

Love,

Crystal

Holiday Face Slide

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written. If you’ve noticed and wondered why, it’s because I have been diverting my attention to the upcoming launch of The Bridge Letters. The Bridge Letters is a project I’ve been working on since 2007. It is a surrogate, co-creative process for healing and I’m very excited to tell you that it will finally be launching this week, so stay tuned for that announcement. For the moment, I can simply tell you that working on the Bridge Letters has been one of the most emotionally powerful experiences of my life. It has affected me to the core of my being and I’m hoping that when it’s released that many people will benefit by it.

For today however, I want to talk about letting the holidays slide off your face! : )

Holiday Face Slide

I have this little trick I use if I’ve been celebrating too much. ‘Celebrating too much’ is, of course, a euphemism for not getting enough sleep, eating too many sweets or too much rich food, running around like a crazy woman trying to get holiday preparations together bellowing out Christmas songs as I go, and also imbibing.

I don’t do all of these things at once, but occasionally I’ll do a few of them back to back and feel gross, rundown and a little toxic afterward–especially if the singing gets out of hand. There’s only so much Winter Wonderland a body can take.

When I find myself in that sluggish situation, reeling from the consequences of stress or poor choices, I usually fortify my health with a shot of wheatgrass juice and then sit comfortably and let my face slide off. If I do it right, it works like a charm and I feel refreshed and recharged.

I think if it works for me, it might also work for you when you need a little TLC. And let’s face it, when are we more in need of TLC than at this hectic time of year!

Care to learn how to do the Face Slide? It’s very easy and in case you’re concerned, the wheatgrass juice (or butt grass juice as my kids call it) is completely optional.

The Face Slide is based on the idea that we carry more tension in our faces than we realize and that somehow the rest of the body responds to the state of tension in the face. My theory is: relax the face and the whole body follows. I haven’t done, or read, any studies on this, although after practising it for years I did hear a coach mention that the one thing he tells his Olympic skiers before their run is, “Make sure your face is relaxed!” So clearly, I’m not the only one who believes this is effective.

Here’s how you do it. Try it now if you’d like.

Simply get comfortable and notice your face. Notice the muscles of your cheeks, are they relaxed? Are you holding them in a state of readiness? Notice your forehead. Is it relaxed or is it tight? Notice your jaw. Is it resting easy or clenching? Sometimes just bringing your awareness to those muscles allows you to release the tension. If it hasn’t released already, consciously make your face muscles passive. Allow them to hang where they are. Imagine that your facial muscles are sliding slowly and gently where gravity would take them. Release all control of those muscles. Feel the tension dripping out of your face. Stay in this state for five minutes or more, taking deep relaxing breaths. You should notice that your whole body relaxes and that you feel more centred.

That’s the Face Slide and it’s my gift to you this season. It might take a few times to get the hang of it, but trust me, it’s worth the effort. You don’t have to be sitting either. A Face Slide is also great, maybe even better, when lying down.

If I wake up early feeling groggy, I find it’s good to do the Face Slide and then go back to sleep. When I do, I usually wake up fully refreshed. I use it in the day as a check in with myself, to centre, or regroup. I have even used it in sports, such as right before I address the ball in golf, or when I play more demanding sports, such as holiday shopping, I’ll do it just before I enter the mall.

I hope you find many uses for it as well. And I hope it serves you as well as it serves me!

Best of the season to you,

Crystal

Copyright 2011, Crystal Eves Inc.

Apologies to His Holiness and Oprah

It was grossly insensitive and disrespectful of me, but many times I have discounted the wisdom of the Dalai Lama because he wears glasses. I just figured, if he’s a spiritually enlightened being, why would he have any health problems at all? In a similar way, I’ve also wondered why Oprah Winfrey can’t get a handle on her weight. For a successful woman who seems to have a lot of answers, isn’t it puzzling that she can’t wrestle that one to the ground?

The hypocrisy, of course, is that I require glasses myself, and like Oprah, have had on-going battles with my body image.   So I think it’s pretty clear who I am truly commenting on when I make those statements.  (As we all know, the best way to grasp how harshly we judge ourselves is to pay attention to how we judge others.) 

I mention these criticisms not because they are warranted, but because it occurred to me the other morning that maybe these ‘flaws’ that I am noticing in others, aren’t actually flaws at all. Perhaps, they are crucial ingredients to someone’s life path or spin-offs from an unusually bold choice or a wonderful character trait.

What if, for example, the Dalai Lama’s need for glasses is not a statement about his physical well-being as much as it is a function of his great compassion? Maybe he can’t bear to ‘see’ the suffering of his people and because he is that sensitive and loving, he makes a great spiritual leader.

Maybe the whole weight thing is the lynch pin in Oprah’s success. Consider for a moment that extra weight represents a protection of sorts. Then think about how vulnerable and authentic Oprah manages to be on a world stage, a place from which one can be attacked regularly, sometimes viciously, by the press. Perhaps that protection is the very thing that allows her to stand before the world and courageously reveal her inner-self.

We could also look at it from another angle. I have long felt that public popularity is generally a function of being able to hook into the zeitgeist, the trends and themes of the time. Oprah’s show rose to popularity just as the obesity epidemic was starting to take hold in North America. Her personal struggle with weight mirrored exactly what the population was facing en mass and it created a strong bond with her audience. Without the weight problem, Oprah would probably still be shining her light in the world, but perhaps with it she is able to reach far more people.

My point here is really not about Oprah or the Dalai Lama. It’s about accepting all of ourselves, even our supposed shortcomings, and respecting that each part of us, difficult or not, contributes to the whole. To isolate and eliminate those aspects of our personality and life that we least enjoy is to discount the larger role that they play in our successes.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t strive to improve, but it is to acknowledge that our desire for improvement might not even be present without the issues that vex us most. Problems can be poetic in their relation to our larger life, and the human struggle is often the most beautiful and meaningful part of living. I’m going to remember that the next time I feel like judging myself or another.

And speaking about judgements and acceptance, I hope that his Holiness the Dalai Lama can forgive me for my rash and egotistical judgements about his eye sight, and Oprah Winfrey for my thoughts about her weight. I’m confident they can, because I’m sure they are both wise enough to know that those remarks were never really about them anyway.

Crystal

Copyright 2011, Crystal Eves Inc.

A-Mazing to Behold

In Ontario we’ve been getting fantastic fall weather with lots of sunny days reaching unseasonal daytime highs. It’s perfect for outdoor activities and so last week I took a trip to a nearby labyrinth. Situated close to Lake Simcoe, this labyrinth is on the grounds of a spiritual retreat and is modelled after the one at Chartres cathedral in France.

If you are unfamiliar with labyrinths, you might immediately think of being lost in a hedge maze or being chased by a Minotaur, but Walking Labyrinths, like the one I visited, are more like moving meditations.  The labyrinth is comprised of a pathway that seems circular but that leads you back and forth in an indirect manner to its centre. The pathway never branches off so there is no getting lost, and happily there is no mythical man/bull to gore you, which is always a plus in any spiritual practice.

The point of walking the labyrinth is to still and concentrate the mind, to put one in touch with their inner wisdom and the greater wisdom that informs all life. Usually one enters a labyrinth with a question or problem to consider, and the act of following the path is both physically and metaphorically centering. Once arriving at the centre, walkers are encouraged to sit and contemplate until they feel satisfied or otherwise at peace with the question or concern they brought with them. Walkers then exit the labyrinth by moving back along the same path by which they entered.

If you’ve never tried a labyrinth walk I would highly recommend it.

Last week when I entered the labyrinth, I had asked only that I be shown something that I needed to know. As I walked the winding path closer and closer to the centre, I became aware of the birds calling all around me, first a crow and then a woodpecker, and then other birds that I couldn’t identify. It continued for the duration of my walk and by the end I was intensely aware of every sound the birds were making. When I exited, I felt that I had gained a deeper appreciation for the nature that constantly surrounds me. It felt like a gift of connection and I was very grateful.

 

Then, as I walked away something fantastic happened. A wind blew through the wooded area that contains the labyrinth and it rustled through a number of maple trees that were directly in front of me.   I looked up to notice that, on each of the trees I could see, there was one large leaf that was just about to drop. Because those leaves were hanging precariously, and because of the gentle breeze that had just swept through, those leaves, and only those leaves, one on each tree, were swinging furiously back and forth.

It looked like each tree had one hand that was merrily waving hello to me. It was the most enchanted thing I have ever seen!  An incredulous grin spread across my face and spontaneously I uttered aloud, “Well, hello! I see you too!” Deliciously, it was at that exact moment that the breeze died down and the ‘waving’ stopped. It was a most magical coincidence.

Whether the trees were communicating with me that day I cannot say, although it makes my world happy to believe so. What I do know for certain, and can attest to from that experience, is this: absolutely wonderful things are possible when we still our minds and pay attention to what surrounds us.

Life in Ink

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