Susan Trout's Blog

Waking up: The Transformative Power of Momentous Life Events (Part I)


Waking up is healing because it brings new understandings and purpose to our life. It focuses our attention on what really matters.

KABOOM! You have had an emotionally explosive event that shattered your current reality or you have experienced an incident that moved you so deeply it dramatically shifted your inner reality to a more loving and expansive one. Either way, you make a choice. Either you choose not to make changes in your outer or inner life and thus remain the same, or you choose to wake up and modify your life so that it is different from what it was. If you choose to wake up, you will not be the same person.

Having a “WOW” effect, a kaboom immediately gets our attention because it has a distinctive voice, sound, feeling, quality, or visual image. It can either be loud and dramatic, or quiet and subtle. A kaboom can motivate us to change how we live our lives, to challenge what we believe to be true or not true, and to examine how we relate to humanity and the planet. Events that can trigger a kaboom are endless. For example, we can experience a kaboom as an upheaval or trauma, perhaps a cancer scare, emergency surgery, the death of a child or partner, an accident, a painful illness, or an unkind comment from a family member. A kaboom can also come from an inspiring book, an insight, a healing experience, helpful words from another, or an experience of unconditional love from a pet.

Kabooms are unexpected, coming out of left field. Our reactions to kabooms are typically strong and irrational. Intense emotions often overwhelm us. We rant and rave, sob with abandonment, cry tears of joy, or feel a peaceful glow in our heart. Regardless of what form a kaboom takes, it can potentially strip away a negative belief, a haphazard way of life, or a relationship that no longer serves our physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual wellbeing.

Having a “WOW” effect, a kaboom immediately gets our attention because it has a distinctive voice, sound, feeling, quality, or visual image.

For many, waking up after a kaboom is followed by a major shift in their physical, psychological and/or spiritual development. Parts of ourselves have been in denial or asleep. We might have been unaware of what forces were inhibiting, restricting, and distorting our motivations. Are we replaying a past, negative event? Do we have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde within us? What within us needs to be awakened so we can chose a life of joy, unconditional acceptance, honesty, and integrity? Are we ready to forgive by learning from our hurtful experiences? What philosophy of life wants to emerge? What is the hidden masterpiece within us that wants to be revealed?

My most notable wake-up kaboom occurred when I decided I needed to leave my marriage. My reality was shattered and I was emotionally and spiritually devastated. What I thought was true was not. What I had forced to make true I discovered could never be true. Without a doubt, I knew I needed to wake up and focus on healing my lifelong emotional wounds. I eventually gained a deep appreciation of emotional pain from this experience and was able to transform my understanding into serving others by being able to provide them with insight and comfort.

I experienced a different kind of kaboom when I was getting my doctorate degree at Northwestern University. Because of intense anxiety about my ability to succeed, I was seriously considering leaving the program. Quite unexpectedly, a person I had worked with in Alaska contacted me, saying she was immediately flying to Chicago to meet with me about something very important. When we met, she asked if I was thinking about dropping out of the doctoral program. Her question surprised me as I had told no one of my possible decision. When I said “Yes,” she said, “You are not to do that. You need to complete your degree in order to accomplish what you came on earth to do.” With her message delivered, she immediately flew back to Alaska. Her unexpected message woke me up. I recognized the truth of her comment and continued my studies.

Waking up clears our mind and opens our heart because it clarifies our motivations, our decisions, our wishes, and helps us define how we want to be, what we want to do, and what actions we want to take to bring the change about. Waking up is healing because it brings new understandings and purpose to our life. It focuses our attention on what really matters. Most of us have many kabooms in our life. Our challenge is to welcome the potential transformation that can come with each one. Our life becomes a series of kabooms that again and again transform our reality from what was so to what now is.

Most of us have many kabooms in our life. Our challenge is to welcome the potential transformation that can come with each one.

In my last blog entry, I wrote about the current transition from Piscean to Aquarian values. We are on the brink of a major evolutionary challenge on our planet. Old organizational structures and belief systems are collapsing around us. Global warming is threating our planet’s survival. All on the planet – humans, animals, nature, even Mother Earth herself – are experiencing intense stress and fear about the unknown future.

The good news is that masses of people are experiencing kabooms that are serving to wake them up to Aquarian values. A few of the transformations now occurring on our planet because people are waking up to Aquarian values are shifts:

  • from competition to cooperation
  • from territorial priorities to global priorities
  • from being head-focused to being heart-oriented
  • from individual needs to group needs
  • from superiority of masculine energy to partnership of masculine and feminine energy
  • from separation to unity

What supports our waking up? Keep it simple. Take one day at a time, one experience at a time. Make a choice to change one thing every day. Persevere. Don’t give up. Don’t waste time worrying or giving power to fear rather than trust. Use each life experience as an opportunity to choose another way. Serve others by showing them another way, which you can do because you have been learning how to do that for yourself.

We must remember that there is one purpose for recognizing and learning from the kabooms in our lives. That purpose is to discover and remember to “sing the song of Divine Light” – the topic of Part II, my next blog entry.

 


Identify kabooms in your life that you particularly treasure. Describe how they have served you personally and how they have served others.




Share with me what you experienced as you work with the Reflection exercise, or just say hello and let me know if you are finding my blog of value.
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Photo Attribution: "Blue Fireworks (the Finnish Fireworks Championship 2007 in Helsinki)" by Neurovelho (31 August 2007), via Wikimedia Commons.

Ride the Waves of Destiny into the Fifth Dimension: A Clarion Call


An ancient clarion call — will be the trumpet we hear as we leave the third dimensional Piscean world and enter the fifth dimension of the Aquarian Era.


I selected the topic of this blog article in response to a request from readers to describe what it means that our planet is transitioning from the third dimensional Piscean Era to the fifth dimension of the Aquarian Era.  My blog entries typically offer teachings using a personal writing style.  However, because the serious nature of this entry's subject matter requires a more scholarly explanation, I am using a more formal style and tone for this teaching.

A more in-depth exploration of the information in this blog entry can be found in my book, The Clarion Call: Leadership and Group Life in the Aquarian Era, which describes the energetic nature of this transition and addresses anticipated gifts, challenges, and needs of the midpoint years of the five-hundred-year transition of the Piscean to the Aquarian Eras (2008-2025).

Subtle fifth dimensional Aquarian energies first appeared on planet Earth around the year 1760. Predictions suggest that by the year 2260, Piscean energies will have yielded to Aquarian energies. The Aquarian Era, like all other astrological eras, will span 2,120 years.  Although we know the basic nature of Aquarian energy and its possibilities of manifestation, much is unknown as to exactly what will emerge during the transition and throughout the Aquarian Era.

 


During this global paradigm shift, humanity as a whole will transition from the third to the fourth dimensions of the Piscean Era and take a quantum leap into the edges of the fifth dimension of the Aquarian Era. What is the basic reality of the third, fourth, and fifth dimensions?

Third dimensional reality is perceived through our physical senses.  Our senses tell us that we are separate from everything, be it from people or matter.  Because third dimensional thinking is dualistic, we perceive things as good or bad, right, or wrong, black or white and react accordingly.  Conflicts are viewed as being just the way life is and it’s only going to get worse.  It is a reality of illusions, of limits and fears.  The material world is viewed as the only reality.

Fourth dimensional reality is more focused on caring for self, other people, and the planet.  New possibilities begin to emerge, such as personal growth and spirituality.  However, in this dimension we get caught up in being special and having strong views and judgments about those who don’t act the way we do.  In the later phases of the fourth dimension, we live more with an awareness of love, care, compassion, forgiveness, and inner peace.  However, we remain caught in duality thinking of right-wrong.

In fifth dimensional reality, we choose between faith and knowing and between religiosity and spirituality. We are called to practice cooperation and to live as one global family. We are called to manifest the Aquarian values of partnership and consciousness. We are guided by intuition and nondualistic thinking.  Our actions are energy-efficient and we perceive all as light, energy, and frequencies.  We know it is our responsibility to manage these energies and our actions in an effective way.

Key to fifth dimensional reality is its promise that our world will be imbued with an energy that unites masculine mind (clarity, order, practicality, knowledge, and words) with feminine heart (cooperation, beauty, synthesis, connectedness, poetry, art, and tenderness). In this way, we not only deepen and unify our inner lives, we harvest the good from where we have been and call on the wisdom of the universe to help us with the practical application of that knowledge. We deepen our understanding of what wants to emerge in the world, moving out of the personal into the collective and out of duality into wholeness.

Only the power of the heart can usher us out of the third and fourth dimensions and into fifth dimensional understanding.  That is, our heart accelerates our evolution into the fifth dimension.  Our conflicts and stress increase when we use only our head. When we use the intelligence of our heart, we manage our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing and develop intuition and knowingness.

Many know their unique assignment during the early years of the Aquarian Era and have already positioned themselves to play critical roles.  I refer to these people and groups as brilliants. The world, which is also a brilliant, maximizes the emanation and returns the Light.  In common speech, the term "brilliant" refers both to a gem and to a specific cut shape for gems – the preferred one for diamonds.  The brilliant can serve as an Aquarian metaphor, representing the Soul through which Light pours from Divine Source, maximizing the emanation and returning the Light.

May our hearts hear the clarion call to join in the Light of the brilliant.  This Light invites us to take the necessary quantum leap across the edge into the fifth dimension, where we are destined to live as one global family.


In what ways do you see yourself continuing to reside in the third and fourth dimensions?  How do you see aspects of fifth dimensional reality beginning to appear in your life and on our planet?

 

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THE CLARION CALL:
Leadership and Group Life in the Aquarian Era


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WAKE UP! Leading with an Open Heart


In the broadest sense, we are all leaders.

When I was asked recently to be interviewed about awakened leadership, my entire life passed before my eyes, beginning with my childhood when I spent most of my time organizing the play of my playmates.  I designated myself as the leader of our pretend play, taking on the roles of doctor, dentist, minister, teacher, restaurant owner, and funeral director.  To my chagrin, funerals I had been conducting for dead wild animals ended abruptly one day when the mother of one of my playmates stormed down our street and into our house, yelling to my mother, “Do you know Susan is having funerals?  I want you to stop her from doing that, right now!”

Beginning in junior high and extending throughout my life, I was often asked to organize and lead a wide variety of activities.  Because I had no training other than observing and reading about leaders, I learned about leadership by being “in the trenches.”   Later, in my professional life, I became overwhelmed with the complexities of leadership, the multiple skills it required, the level of inner strength and understanding it demanded, and the wisdom needed when handling what seemed like constant problems, challenges, and relationship issues in the workplace.

Listen to an interview with Susan Trout on
"The Awakened Leader:
Leadership as a Classroom of the Soul"

on
Two Modern Mystics' blog talk radio

(original broadcast April 8, 2015, 7:30 pm EST)


One morning, I awoke particularly weary and on edge.  For months the solution of a challenging work situation had eluded me.  I did not know what to say or do to move the problem toward resolution.  I thought there must be a how-to-lead book I had not yet read that contained the magic key to flawless leadership.  I assumed that when I found it, I would no longer experience discouragement and self-doubt.

At some point during the same day, a curious thought calmed my agitated state and I had a glimpse of the meaning of awakened leadership.  Leadership is what it is: a form of service, a role that can be inspiring and creative, challenging and even dangerous.  I realized that, if I assumed my leadership was the perfect stage for my soul’s learning, then I could discover what qualities and competencies each challenge was offering to me.  Leadership, I decided, required going to school – not at a university but in the classroom of my life as a leader.

I was finally ready by 1997 to share what I had learned about service by writing Born to Serve, which became the first book of The Soul and Service TrilogyBorn to Serve is a guide to deepen the relationship between our motives for serving and the quality of our service.  The second book, The Awakened Leader, envisions a new era of conscious leaders, those whose leadership is a classroom for their soul.  The third book, The Clarion Call, emerged when I saw that we have an unprecedented opportunity to manifest a new model of leadership and group life as humanity experiences a cosmic shift into a new way of being.   “The clarion call” is a call to life and a call to action.  We are called to make a choice at the midpoint between the Piscean and Aquarian eras, to choose between the old and new, between what was and what will be.  Basically, we are called to practice cooperation and to live as one global family.

In the broadest sense, we are all leaders.  We lead our own lives, deciding what we believe, where we live, what work we do, how we allocate our time, and so on.  We also have opportunities for leadership that involve others when we engage in activities like preparing the family for a vacation, arranging for the care of an elderly parent, organizing a community event, seeing a problem and taking action to solve it, mentoring a student, heading a project – in fact, anytime we see a problem and take action to solve it.  Leadership, regardless of its context, provides unique opportunities for personal growth and development and for serving others with our gifts of knowledge, experience, values, loving presence, and wisdom.

Leaders in today’s world are rushed, stressed, and unhappy.  I offer my interview to support leaders who feel they are in a vicious cycle of being overburdened by long work hours, being constantly connected via smartphone, ipad, laptop, and emails, and being so bogged down by management issues or with the problems of those they lead that they don’t have time to identify and devote energy to “what really matters.”  In a nutshell, what really matters is that we, as leaders, welcome the wisdom, peace, and inner strength that emerges when we experience leadership as a classroom of our soul. In this way, we serve the highest good by giving the right thing, in the right amount, for the right reason, and at the right time.




Identify three significant learnings you have gleaned from your soul's leadership classroom. 

What has been the "ripple effect" of these learnings in your relationships with group members?

 

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to purchase
THE AWAKENED LEADER:
Leadership as a Classroom of the Soul


New Special Price: $10.00 (plus shipping)




 

Share with me what you experienced doing the Reflection exercise, or just say hello and let me know if you are finding my blog of value. 
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What Really Matters

A woman lay in a daisy field watching the clouds and contemplating her life.  She remembered with deep regret all the times she had harmed herself, others, and Planet Earth.  With all her heart, she looked to the heavens and asked for forgiveness.


Make the whole world
your friend.

Suddenly one of the clouds descended.  Standing on it was an angel child who beckoned the woman to board the cloud.  She did as bidden.  The two rode the cloud to a great building in which there were many men, women, and children of all races, colors, creeds, and religions.  The building was surrounded by pristine beauty and abundant animals and plant life.

The angel child led the woman inside where she was presented with a white book beautifully decorated with a gold rose.  Then he led her back to the cloud and guided it back to the daisy field.

The woman had barely been able to contain her excitement over the gift.  Alone in the field, she examined the book.  When she opened it, she saw there was only one page.  And on that page was written:

There is nothing to forgive.
Use what you have learned from your life
to help others and Planet Earth.

 

 

As you reflect on your life as well as that of our Earth, what is your response to the question,

"What really matters?"

Share with me what you experienced doing the Reflection exercise, or just say hello and let me know if you are finding my blog of value. 
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Source: Adapted from Susan S. Trout.  Born to Serve: The Evolution of the Soul Through Service. Three Roses Press: Alexandria, VA, 1997.

Photo Attribution:
By NASA/GSFC [Public domain], taken from the satellite Suomi NPP, 20 June 2012, via Wikimedia Commons

Life-Sustaining Teachings of Robin Williams

“Isn’t it funny how I can bring great happiness to all these people but not to myself.” ~ Robin Williams

Sometimes an event happens that has such inherent power it dramatically impacts the psyches of people worldwide.  The August 10th suicidal death of comedian Robin Williams was such an event. Unsettled by Robin’s death, people have been driven to share their feelings. News of his death has been the focus of conversations throughout the world – conversations that were personal, deep, and life changing.  Why is this so?


Robin Williams is like a mirror: when we look into it, we see that he is us, you and me, and he is giving us an opportunity to choose a different path.  In this mirror, we recognize ourselves.

We are impacted by Robin’s emotional and spiritual pain because his pain is akin to our own.  Most of us have experienced depression and despair at some point in our lives; perhaps we are experiencing this pain right now.  Robin Williams is like a mirror: when we look into it, we see that he is us, you and me, and he is giving us an opportunity to choose a different path.  In this mirror, we recognize ourselves.

Robin’s death felt personal, as though we were participating in a drama just like our own.  Our inner self emerged from the depths of our unconscious and seemed to say, “Pay attention to your reaction to this event….it represents a vital teaching for you.  If you imbibe this teaching, you will know its truth will have the power to heal you.”

I decided to examine my response to Robin’s death by acknowledging that I felt his death was by despair, not by suicide.  What seemed key to me was the depth and intensity of his longstanding depression and anguish.  For days after his death, I had images of my former, desperate self – feelings that began in my early life and extended well into my 40s.  I had been depressed for years, but not until the depression became despair did I realize I was in trouble.

"Why does the gift for great performance seem
to go hand in hand with unshakable
depression?"  ~
Dick Cavett

Depression and despair are points on a continuum.  Depression begins to develop when, over time, we fail to notice how we really feel, emotionally and spiritually.  We separate our psyches into two selves, the personality self and the spiritual self.  The face we want to present to the world (our personality) becomes our truth rather than the face of our True Self (our inner spiritual reality).  This split produces anxiety and self-hatred because the energy of our psyche is pulled apart.  When our energy is used in this way, we descend into depression because we no longer know who we are, where our safety lies, what meaning our life has, and where we stand in the world. As we become increasingly separated from our True Self, we spiral into despair, a state of utter meaninglessness, helplessness, and hopelessness.

Despair is inert energy that resides at the very bottom of our belief in separation from our inner  spiritual reality, our True Self. The pain of this belief is unbearable.  We become so separated from the awareness of our True Self that we believe there is nowhere to go but out – out of this life, either through numbing by addictions or through suicide.

How do we start climbing out of the abyss of despair?   Hands reach out to help us, but we often decline them, or don’t even notice their presence.  We are the ones who must “wake up” and choose to begin the long climb out of the depths of despair.  There is only one way to begin this climb: admit the truth of our condition and then, with humility, pray and ask for help from the Divine and from all of the Angels and High Beings who are imbued by the sacred.  It doesn’t matter if we believe this is so – it only matters that we have a little willingness to ask for help.  Once we are sincere about asking for help and are willing to accept it, help will come.  How it will come is inevitably a surprise.  Synchronicity is the method extended to us by the Divine and our Helpers.  We MUST look for synchronicities, as they WILL come.  It could be something someone says  to us or a book someone hands us.  Or a book that falls from the shelf.  Or a dream.  Or a loving pet.   Or a beautiful nature scene.  Or the impulse to call a Hot Line.  Or someone describes a healing method that has helped her and we recognize it might also help us. As we begin to climb out of despair, we will have an urge to use what we have learned to help others.  We will refocus our life.  We will finally find meaning and purpose for being on planet earth.

When I was in the depths of despair, drowning in self-hatred, I noticed that a colleague seemed much happier than she had been in recent weeks.  I asked her why.  She said she had taken an est training and also learned to meditate.  I didn’t have a clue what est was about but I respected her opinion and took the training.  I was extremely miserable until a woman stood up and told her story….and it was my story she was telling!  Listening to her story, I suddenly saw my situation clearly and knew what I needed to do.  I understood in that moment that I had a choice to change how and with whom I lived my life. I was not the victim of my circumstance – in fact, I had helped create it.  That being true, I could create something different in my life by accepting responsibility for my choices and making choices that were healthier and wiser.  In this moment, I recall literally dancing with joy and chanting over and over: “I have a choice! I have a choice!”

Later, this same colleague said to me, “Someday you will look back on this time in your life and see all that you have learned.  Then, you will naturally want to give away what you learned by taking the hand of others in pain – you can do this because you have been there and know it is possible to make different choices and heal your life.”

"One man with a thousand voices brought
joy to millions – but could not sustain it
in himself."  ~
Richard Corliss

Robin reminded us that we have a choice.  By his actions, he taught us not to give up in despair and neglect our souls, but to search for another way to look at our pain and despair – an inner way, a soul-oriented way.  Inner peace is not something we find in our personality and its attainments in the world.  Inner peace is found within as a spiritual quest, as our soul’s journey.  Why are we on earth?  We are here to heal our emotional traumas and learn how to create a meaningful, soul-focused life.

What is the gift of remembrance that Robin extends to us?  It is not what we do in the world that matters but the love and the spirit we experience within that nourishes our soul and allows us to fulfill our life’s purpose on earth. Our life has meaning when our personality becomes infused with our soul’s essence.   This wholeness, this integration, is where our true happiness resides. We are not strengthened by how much money we make or don’t make, how hard we work, how many relationships we have, or how much we make people laugh. It is the energy we receive by connecting to our soul that sustains us. In the intensity of silence that is the soul’s domain, we experience the depth of our strength.


Sit in silence and reflect on your personal reaction to the news of Robin Williams’ death by suicide.  Ask yourself:  What have I learned?  What changes in my life am I now considering?  How am I going to use what I have learned from this experience to help others?

Share with me what you experienced doing the Reflection exercise, or just say hello and let me know if you are finding my blog of value. 
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Photo Attribution: Robin Williams, 2004, Bar at Canada. Author: Darsie.  GFDL 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Easy Wisdom of Little Kuan Yin


We are always in partnership with that which we serve and are served by, whether people, animals, nature, or task.
Born to Serve

After Meara’s death in 2009, the Institute was not immediately ready to welcome another resident kitty.  However, on November 13, 2011, Clare entered our life.  It was as though Meara had sent her.

Clare arrived on Meara’s April 15 birthday in 2010, sitting on a woodpile outside Maggie Scobie’s country home in Leesburg, VA.  Maggie, an Institute member, immediately recognized Clare as the Institute’s next resident kitty.   However, Clare needed to be tamed, not because she was feral, but because she had somehow been lost in the wild, surviving by her wits for an unknown period of time.

Clare was finally tame enough to move into the Institute on November 13, 2011. Not knowing her true day of birth, we gave her St. Clare’s July 16 birthday.   Clare gradually healed the remaining skittishness and fear of abandonment she brought with her after being lost in the wild for so long.  I promised Clare I would never leave her – and I never did.

Clare proved to be one-of-a-kind.  We soon realized that Clare was a masterful spiritual teacher who taught others through example.  We called her Little Kuan Yin because she embodied “easy wisdom,” a constant state of inner harmony and alignment with the Divine. She communicated her unconditional love with others in the right way, at the right time, and in the right amount.  Many recognized her as the personification of “sweetness transcends all things.”



Clare lived a quality life at the Institute and served as a greeter for two and a half years until her death by cancer on the full moon of May 14, 2014. The following excerpt from a poem by Ann Benvenuto, an Institute member, expresses the spiritual depth of our Clare:

For that she is precious as the sound of tinkling jade.

For that she trots up gently on her tiny feet with great purpose to greet us.

For that she is patience and purity, and teaches us these.

For that she is a little seva being.

For that she came to help us in our sacred work.

For that she has beautiful fur, of which she is rightly proud.

For that she is the 'Clare' in 'Clarion.'

For that she has a subtle soul.

For that LOVE, pure and clear, radiates out of her.

For that she LIVES love, and is it.

For that, in her little Buddha body, each breath is compassion.

For that she is Kuan Yin, Goddess of Compassion, in the sacred shape of cat.

For that she only wishes to serve, and that she IS service.

For that she is loved.

We pray for her highest possible evolution.

For that she is so loved.

Clare joins our three other Wisdom BearersHis Holiness the Dalai Lama, Michelangelo, and Meara.

 

Practice this reflection slowly and with tender care at the beginning or end of your day:

Sit or lie in a place where you will not be distracted or disturbed. 

Choose to connect to the place in your heart where the beauty of inner silence resides.

While abiding in silence, recall an animal or scene in nature that awakens within you the presence of purity, unconditional love, and divine essence.

Bask in the glory of this precious gift.

Allow the glow of this memory to awaken gratitude within you.

Remain in the joy of this memory, allowing it to embrace and nurture your body . . . your emotions . . . your mind . . . . and your soul.

Share with me what you experienced doing the Reflection exercise, or just say hello and let me know if you are finding my blog of value.  Click HERE to email me.

She Died in Front of the Lincoln Memorial


Medicine poetry is intuitive and comes from the heart, not the head.

When I was on the young side of life, I wanted to be a poet and a writer. As time passed, I became a writer, largely because acquiring left-brain skills were essential if I were to obtain graduate degrees and teach at a university and institute. My poet self never emerged beyond what came through in some of my academic and personal writing.

Recently, I was introduced to “medicine poetry” in Stephen Levine’s book, Becoming Kuan Yin: The Evolution of Compassion. Kuan Yin urges her students to write medicine poetry, saying, “The right word at the right time is strong medicine.” She explains that medicine poetry is intuitive and comes from the heart, not the head – “How quiet one must be – a single thought can muffle it.” Medicine poetry heals us, whether we write it or read it.

Kuan Yin’s teachings about medicine poetry prompted my poet self to awaken. I mustered the courage and self-confidence to take pen to paper and write poetry. To write medicine poetry, one must abandon all thoughts and merge with feelings, never knowing what the poem will say or how it will evolve. The intent is to focus on the heart and express authentic feelings, whether of pain or of glory. Once the poem is completed, the poet experiences the effect of the “medicine” – a calm and peace. One’s truth has been spoken, one’s truth has been heard. Genuine truth of one’s feelings releases the pain.

I have decided to share one of my medicine poems with you, a poem that expresses the intense pain I feel for our country – the pain of self-forgetting, the pain of polarization, the pain of focusing on self at the expense of the greater good of humanity and the planet. The poem bypassed my head as it flowed from my heart. At its conclusion, I felt at peace, as I had released my pain by speaking a genuine truth of my feelings.

Lincoln Memorial


She Died in Front of the Lincoln Memorial

Abraham Lincoln
Man of destiny
Massive presence
In repose
Gripping the chair
Gazing the distance
Penetrating the past
Studying the present
Searching for
The bigger picture
The now, the then, the when


I come
Emblazoned by marble
Showered by charisma
To confirm the death
Of his creation
The unity of diversity
The diversity of unity


Me
A nurse
Called to his side
Doctors
Are not nurses
Their pictures
Painted
Their names
Printed
Though history
Has recorded
I was there
With him
That day
Wiping his brow
Smoothing covers
Dabbing his lips
With water
Turned holy


Today
I stand
Before him
150 years
Passed
Knowing
He sobs
His dream nearly silenced
His brow
Furrowed
Eyes
Half shut


With love
With honor
I grieve
I crumble
Wishing escape
From today’s States
United
Only a whispered
Misshapen
Dream


Equality
Greater Good
Joined as One
Meant everything
Once
Now
Not to be


My Friend
Dies again
For our country
I, too,
Today
I died
In front of
The Lincoln Memorial

 

Select an issue or topic in your life that you would like to heal using medicine poetry.  Write the name of your topic at the top of a blank sheet of paper or on a blank page in your journal.  Have pen and paper nearby. Meditate for several minutes.

Place your awareness in your heart.  When thoughts distract you, return to the silence of your heart’s awareness.

Allow the words to flow.  If the words cease, return to the silence within.


Share with me what you experienced doing the Reflection exercise, or just say hello and let me know if you are finding my blog of value.  Click HERE to email me
.

 

Reference: Stephen Levine.  Becoming Kuan Yin: the Evolution of Compassion. San Francisco: Weiser Books, 2013, pp 54, 111.

Photo Attribution: By Gregory F. Maxwell <gmaxwell@gmail.com> PGP:0xB0413BFA (By uploader) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Flying on the Inside


Like Stickeen, each of us can fly on the inside by finding the inner strength and commitment to walk across the many ice-sliver ledges in our lives.

Naturalist John Muir, who was known for studying and exploring nature by living in it for extended periods of time, told a wonderful story about Stickeen, a dog who used to accompany him on many of his outdoor adventures. The dog had an enduring and joyous relationship with Muir and he liked to join Muir even in the middle of storms and in treacherous country. This particular story occurred on a trek across glaciers in Alaska.

Muir discovered as night was falling that he and Stickeen faced an enormous crevasse that was passable only by a precarious ice-sliver ledge. Muir realized that there was no alternative but to cross the deep and broad chasm by walking the narrow, ice-covered ledge.

Muir knew there was no way he could safely carry the dog across with him. With great remorse, he left the dog behind. Stickeen watched intently as Muir walked the ledge to safety. Muir looked back at the sad and lonely dog who loved him so much. At first the dog paced back and forth as he deliberated whether to also walk across the ledge.

It seemed an impossibility to Muir that the dog could make it. After much deliberation, the dog finally decided to walk across.

Safe at last, Muir said that the dog, Stickeen, "ran and cried and barked and rolled about fairly hysterical, going from the depth of despair to triumphant joy. I tried to catch him and pet him and tell him how good and brave he was, but he would not be caught. He ran round and round, swirling like autumn leaves in an eddy, laying down and rolling head over heels."

Wherever Muir went, people begged to hear this inspirational story about the dog. Muir said that Stickeen had "enlarged my life, for through him as through a window, I have ever since been looking with deeper sympathy into all my fellow mortals." It is interesting to note that prior to walking across the icy ledge, Stickeen was a rather troubled animal, distant and aloof toward human beings. After his walk, Stickeen was a delight to all he met. He had transformed into a loving and devoted dog who joyfully interacted with others.

Stickeen

Stickeen’s story is a reminder of how absolutely joyful and ecstatic it is to successfully face our fears, to walk through them, and to make it to the other side. To successfully do this requires our “flying on the inside.” Like Stickeen, each of us can fly on the inside by finding the inner strength and commitment to walk across the many ice-sliver ledges in our lives. Just as Muir could not make the choice for the dog, others cannot make this choice for us. Muir, like others, however, can be an example of the successful outcome of such a courageous choice.

Love was the ultimate reason the dog made the decision to cross – the love that he and Muir had for one another, the love the dog had for the gift of his precious life. And, on the other hand, I would guess that the Love of God was what emanated through Muir, that he was an instrument of God's Love, and it was that Love that the dog chose not to be separated from. Muir was clearly “flying on the inside.”

Once we successfully cross our personal ice-sliver ledge, we, like Stickeen, are transformed from a fearful being to one who lives our life completely and well.

Reference: Muir, John.  1909.  "Stickeen: The Story of a Dog."  Introduction by Dan E. Anderson and Harold Wood.  http://www.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/writings/stickeen/the_story_of_a_dog.aspx (accessed December 22, 2013).

 

What fears come up for you as you recall the ice-sliver ledges in your life? Did these experiences result in your having greater compassion for people, animals, and nature? 

How might you increase being aware of flying on the inside in your personal and work life, especially during times you are crossing an ice-sliver ledge?


Share with me what you experienced doing the Reflection exercise, or just say hello and let me know if you are finding my blog of value.  Click HERE to email me
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Let the Elephant Pass By


To live a life completely and well – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – it is essential to learn how to “let the elephant pass by.”

Elephants came thundering into my life in a way I never could have imagined.  I was a college freshman at a private university in Indiana.  One of the optional P.E. courses I chose to take was modern dance.   I had never heard of this kind of dance as I came from a small farming community where such things were unheard of, let alone taught.  I was excited and anticipatory as I entered the gymnasium for the first class.  The instructor began by asking each of us, one by one, to go to the front of the class and “act out” an object or thing.  When it was my turn, I bent down, putting my hands together and gradually raising my arms above my head as a way of acting out how a seed grows and becomes a flowering plant. As the flower with my arms skyward, I welcomed the warmth of the sun.  I was delighted that I had chosen to express the growth of such a delicate, living object.

Immediately, my fellow classmates shouted with certainty… “She’s an elephant!”  My remaining days in the class are a blurred memory and I carried forth from that day the belief that I was not capable of ever dancing beautifully and elegantly.  I’ve never forgotten the day I was told I was an “elephant.”

Years passed and it was not until I went to India to stay at an ashram that elephants re-entered my life, be it in a very unusual way.  I noticed there were numerous marble statues of Gods and Goddesses on the ashram grounds.  I was particularly drawn to statues of a being with a human body and an elephant head.  I’m rather embarrassed to write this, but I immediately fell in love with this Being, whose name I learned was Ganesha, the esteemed Hindu God who helps us remove obstacles and overcome sadness.  Ganesha soon became my beloved helper and friend. The Elephant-God became a symbol of healing for me, even more so after learning that elephants symbolize the strength of our True Self.

Move forward thirty-some years.  I am lying on a table receiving an acupuncture treatment.  I am there because I have a health issue with severe pain that has stubbornly lingered for months.  While on the table, I move into a place of silence where no pain exists.  Suddenly I see myself pushing the rear of an elephant to get him out of my way as I believe he is blocking my path.  I push relentlessly to no avail.  And then – a pleasant, booming voice says to me, “Let the elephant pass by.”  Instantly I stop pushing and recognize that this request was not just a demand to stop pushing the elephant but an important personal message of wisdom: let the pain pass in its own healing time.

How many times in our lives have we used our will to force things to happen because we wanted something now rather than in its own natural timing?  We push ideas, we push our work, we try to push other people to do things our way and in our timing.  Most of all, we push ourselves as we seek instant results and instant gratification.  We push ourselves and our families and spouses to change, to do our bidding because we are uncomfortable.  We push ourselves to deaden the pain, thrashing about in all forms of addictions.  We hang on to our beliefs and desires and react with anger and fear when others do not fulfill our life and we fail to live our lives fully and completely.  We don’t accept or love ourselves, believing we are not worthy, confident, and competent. On and on go the examples of a stressful life that results from hanging on to such beliefs and behaviors.  The end result is often some breakdown of our body, mind, or spirit.  We are not made to live such a stressful, defeating life.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, young and old, with whom I have shared my elephant message has understood the depth of its meaning INSTANTLY.  Each recognized that to live a life completely and well – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – it is essential to learn how to “let the elephant pass by.”   Ah – this story does have a happy ending after all!

In what ways and/or situations do you not “let the elephant pass by” in your own life?

After your self-inquiry, practice saying “let the elephant pass by” as a mantra every time you are tempted to react instead of respond, force instead of letting be, and reject your life experiences instead of learning from them.


Share with me what you experienced doing the Reflection exercise, or just say hello and let me know if you are finding my blog of value.  Click HERE to email me
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Let the Elephant Pass By

The Poison Leaves

When we choose to learn from our experiences, we attain a pure heart and a quiet mind.

In my March blog article, I shared I would write my next article in a month.  You might have noticed that I’m writing this article not in April, but in July, four months later.  I also mentioned in my March article that I had a dream that identified two poisons in my life – hope and fear – and I promised that my next blog article would explore why this might be so, not just for myself but for others, too.  Well, I didn’t keep my date-promise but I will keep the promise to explore the relationship of hope and fear.  As one might expect, my four-month delay in writing my blog article has a “story,” and, yes, it’s a story of hope and fear.

Soon after I started my blog, I developed a severe case of shingles.  I had “hoped” I was managing my stress concerning the sale of property, finding and moving to a new location, and re-defining my work responsibilities. Yes, these are all listed at the top of stress charts. And yes, the shingles delivered the message that, indeed, this stress proved to be too much for my immune system.

Looking at my shingles experience from a perspective of hope and fear, I told myself: “I hope my shingles pain is short-lived and I’ll be well in a couple of weeks.  I hope the treatment the western physician gave me cures the problem in a short time. I hope I can bypass the nerve pain people tell me can sometimes last for a year. I hope I can keep up with my work responsibilities. I hope there is a magic bullet I can take that will cure the pain immediately.”  You get the point, I’m sure.

Beneath each of these “hopes” was fearfear and thus doubt that none of these hopes will come true, fear and doubt that the pain will ever go away, fear and doubt that I can find a healing approach that works, fear and doubt that I will fail at work, fear and doubt that I can discover what approach is best for my healing, and so forth.  On the one hand, I “hope” I won’t experience the relentless pain that has no remedy.  On the other hand, I “fear” and thus doubt my pain will ever go away.

A turning point came during a medical appointment when my internist said, “There is nothing more I can do to help you so you won’t need to make another appointment.”  I was devastated and felt adrift. I realized how much I had hoped my problem could be resolved with a western medicine magic bullet.  Fear that a magic bullet didn’t exist was beneath this hope.

Quite unexpectedly, when I left the doctor’s office I had a powerful insight:  I do have the ability to be self-responsible for my pain and to search for solutions that meet my needs.  I don’t doubt that I can draw on my inner strength, competence, and confidence to design a holistic healing program.  Soon, I selected a medical intuitive, a Qigong healer, an acupuncturist, and a chiropractor as helpers and learned Buddhist breathing practices.  I increased my meditation time and wrote in my journal, dialoguing with my pain and with my heart, the area where the nerve pain was located.

I stopped choosing hope and instead, chose to learn from my pain. Instead of feeling victimized, resentful, or bitter, we always have a choice to be responsible for our feelings and reactions and learn from them.  When we choose to learn from our life experiences, the quality of our relationship with ourselves and others changes. I know already that one of the gifts of my shingle pain is a deepening of my compassion for those in pain, whether that pain is physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual and whether those in pain are of the human, animal, or plant kingdoms.  My shingle pain has also gifted me with an awareness of just how much the two poison leaves, hope and fear, have kept me from living my life completely and well.  The true antidote to the poison leaves is to live a soul-inspired life.

Select a recent experience in your life in which you expressed having “hope.” Repeat the following phrases several times until you identify the “fear” that lies beneath each “hope.” 

On the one hand I hope _______; on the other hand I fear _______. 

Journal your insights from this exercise and note any learnings.  If you could see your experience from a perspective other than hope and fear, what would that be?

Let me know how hope and fear have shown up in your life since reading my blog, share with me what you experienced doing the Reflection exercise, or just say hello and let me know if you are finding my blog of value.  Click HERE to email me.

 

Courtesy of G. McDonald
Courtesy of G. McDonald

Living Life Completely and Well

Some time ago, I had what Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung calls a numinous dream.  Jung defines a numinous dream as an inner or outer experience that conveys something essential about ourselves that our unconscious wants us to know.  That is, numinous dreams explain an aspect of spiritual knowledge that needs to be actualized in our lives.  There is always a feeling of fascination about a numinous dream or event.

Numinous dreams connect us with sacred knowledge.

Numinous experiences feel mysterious.  They carry a spiritual message from the Divine and often communicate a message that, frankly, can seem rather terrifying.  Regardless of the nature of a numinous dream or experience, we are often drawn to uncover its spiritual meaning.

In my numinous dream, I am doing my best to hide from a man I believed to be dangerous.  As often happens in a dream with such a theme, the man finds my hiding place.  He walks up to me and orders me to eat two poisonous leaves.

Immediately and with an air of absolute conviction, I look at him, unafraid and determined. I proclaim, “NO!  I want to live my life completely and well!”  He turns and walks away.

I identify two numinous questions in my dream:  What are the two poisons in my life?  What does it mean to live my life completely and well?  For nearly three years I seek answers to my questions - from books, from people, and from contemplation.  Yet I failed to uncover the hidden truths of the two questions.

And then….a synchronistic event occurred that provided the answers.  In fall 2012, I decided to attend a Tibetan Buddhist retreat led by Tenzin Wanghal Rinpoche.  Imagine my excitement when I discovered that the retreat was designed to answer my two numinous questions.  Rinpoche defined living life fully as cultivating an inner refuge into which we release our obstacles and then engage in creative actions that serve oneself and others.  When I asked Rinpoche to identify the two poisons in my life, he said, without skipping a beat, “hope and fear.”

In next month’s blog, I will explain how hope and fear are poisons in our lives.  For now, I wish only to plant the seed that fear is our motivation for “hoping this,” “hoping that.”  We fear we do not have the inner strength, competence, and confidence to experience success in our personal and spiritual lives.  So, let’s hope we do.

Recall and describe a numinous dream or event in your life that you sense has the potential to awaken a spiritual truth within you. 

Have you recognized the spiritual meaning of this event and refocused your life as a result? 

If so, in what ways are you now living your life completely and well?

Share with me what you experienced doing the Reflection exercise, or just say hello and let me know if you are finding my blog of value.  Click HERE to email me.


photo by Diana Simonton

(photo by Diana Simonton)