Monday, September 28, 2009

Begin Right Here

Are you ready for personal transformation? Is this the right time to develop your spiritual core? Can you make a commitment now to deal with that road-block you've been trying to avoid?   Is today the day you'll begin being honest with yourself? 

Is there ever a right time?  Now is as good a time as any.  And the sooner you begin, the sooner you will be on your way to living honestly and with integrity.  The sooner we begin, the sooner we can set down our fears.  The sooner we begin, the sooner we will know ourselves enough to heal.  And beyond healing lies the joy we so strongly intuit awaits us.

We begin where we are. We approach and do the work, trusting subtle and powerful energies within and around us to guide and guard our journey toward alignment.  Our Genius (thinking) selves long to make sense of it all by demanding answers to questions like who, where, what, when, why, how, how much, how often—and thereby prolong the time when we actually begin. We can get caught for years trying to answer this question only to come up with guesses and assumptions in the end.

The truth is that if we wait to know why, we may never begin (or restart, as the case may be) the journey in earnest. A Doctor doesn’t ask “why” is the bone broken or “why” is the artery ruptured. A doctor sets the bone, repairs the artery. When we step upon the path of self-awareness and healing we become the doctor for our own souls. No one else can heal our souls for us.  As much as we want the therapist, the priest, shaman or guru to do it for us, they cannot.  I myself am but a midwife.  I am trained to show the way, but cannot do the work of birthing you into being.  That labor is yours alone.

Set aside “why,” or keep it where you can explore it with your therapist.  Right now, let’s begin.

Right here, is a place that feels rather uncomfortable but at the same time familiar. Here, we are fraught with fear. Here we berate, degrade, punish, coddle, belittle, abuse, addict, negate, deny, subsume and silence our Selves.

Right here, we have to admit that we are perhaps meaner to ourselves than to anyone else.

 Right here we have to face the truth that we treat ourselves worse than we would allow anyone else to treat us.

Right here, we admit we wouldn't allow anyone to talk to our friends or family members the way we talk to ourselves inside our heads.

Right here, we recognize how desperately we need to forgive ourselves for being so mean to ourselves for being imperfect.

Right now we begin the work of forgiving ourselves for setting ourselves up to fail by erecting false gods of perfection. 

Right now might be the moment to admit we need help.  Or that we are leaving.  Or that we are depressed, anxious, distraught, lonely, alcoholic, addicted to prescription or street drugs. 

Right now we stand up and stare clear eyed into the face of our addiciton to food, television, money, stuff, relationships, sex, gambling, shopping, ego or power.

Right now, no matter how far along your path you are, it's time to get honest so you can begin. 

Take a breath.  Long.  Full.  Deep.  And let it out.  And see your resistance to the journey of self awareness and healing drop away from you with your breath.  See your fear gather in your belly like a stone.  See it  drop into the still water of that part of you which is already whole.  Give it over.  Surrender.

And take another breath.  The time is now.  There is no better time.  No more excuses.  No more denial.  No more lying to yourself that it's too scary. 

The life you are living right now is scary.  We live in a culture which requires we lie to ourselves and everyone else, saying things like, "I'm fine," and "I'm doing really well,"   and "Don't worry about me!" 

If we begin to tell the truth we might not ever stop.  And what a relief that would be.

Don't stop telling the truth.

Begin telling the truth.
It begins with a breath.

This post will be here all week.  The daily commitments will change.

Let's begin.

A Week of Daily Commitments:

October 4, 2009 Today, take a look back over the week. Did you commit to one small or massive change? Were you able to surrender? Did you ask for help? Stay the course? Begin the process of forgiveness? If so, allow yourself to feel pride for taking steps toward becoming more whole, more honest, more yourSelf. Breathe into that Pride so that it enlarges. Fill yourself with Pride with every breath.

If not, perhaps you chose something too big. Can you break it down to something more manageable? Can you find a place of grace and forgiveness toward yourself? Breathe into that. I'll tell you a secret: The wonderful thing about beginnings is there is always a new one. Just think, you can begin anew right now.

October 2, 2009. Just once today, when it'd be easy or habitual to gloss over or deny a truth, take a breath and tell it. The truth might be how you respond to the question, "How are you?" Or, it might be simply saying, "Thank you" when offered a compliment rather than minimizing your value.

October 1, 2009. Often, when we commit to a new endeavor, our interest or ability to follow through wanes after just a few days. Today, show yourself that you can trust yourself. Come back to the commitment you made at the start of this week. Feel the impulse for healing and wholeness in your body-mind-heart-spirit. Breathe into that impulse to give it life. Today, commit to yourself again

September 30, 2009. The universe will always leap to support you once you have committed to a path. Here, I am using the word universe instead of the word God, Goddess, Creative Force, Deity. It doesn’t matter what name you call it or how you envision the Something Bigger than you. We are not discussing religion here. In fact, bringing religion into the picture at this point could make you so mad you forget all about your commitment to yourself. What matters right now is our ability to call upon something larger and more powerful than ourselves so that we might align ourselves with it. That something might be the tree outside your window or the landscape all around you. It might be the night sky, the spirit of your grandmother, the god of your childhood or she who is the mother of all things.

There is also part of us which is larger than we know. One name for it is our Highest Self. Aligning that sacred part of ourselves with an energy or god we perceive as being much larger, will help us in our lives and in the commitment we are making this week to begin. Today, we can step forward by saying simply, “I am willing to align myself with my Highest Self. I trust my Highest Self knows how to align with even larger unseen forces who take an interest in my happiness.”

Breathe into the words. Allow yourself to feel the release of tension in your body as you speak them aloud or in silence. Say them again as often as you need.

September 29, 2009 If the truth of your situation is such that you cannot face it alone, make a commitment to reach out for help today. Call a friend, therapist, hotline or 12 step program. Make an appointment to see your doctor, lawyer or financial advisor. Set up a consultation with a personal trainer or a date with a close friend to discuss your options. We have been indoctrinated into thinking we have to go it alone. That’s a lie. Ask for the support you need. The Universe will always leap to support you once you have committed to a path.
September 28, 2009. Today, make a commitment to begin healing that which is in the way of your living your truth. It doesn't matter if you've been on your spiritual path a long time or if you don't even know what I mean when I use the word "path." What matters is that you begin healing sooner than later.

If you can, name the issue that stands in your way.

If you are afraid, simply notice the fear and forgive yourself. We are all often afraid.

Breathe through your fear: Inhale courage. Exhale fear. Inhale and give honor to yourself for naming the healing you need. Exhale shame for not being able to do it before now. Inhale pride at your ability to begin this journey. Exhale any guilt you feel about being "selfish" for desiring healing for yourself.

Know you are not alone.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Body Beloved

Move your attention to your breath. 

Now, breathe more fully, slowly and deeply.   Notice how just this small shift in focus toward the breath changes your body, your stress level, your perception of your surroundings. 

If such a simple shift in consciousness can change so much, imagine what a more sustained, in-depth focus might be capable of.  Don't just rush on to the next sentence here.  Continuing to breathe slowly and deeply, really allowing yourself to imagine what a more sustained, in-depth focus might be capable of.  Let your thoughts follow that river for a moment.   There are no right or wrong thoughts here. 

Coming back to your breath.  Did it get shallow or faster without your attention?  That's okay.  Bring your focus back to it.  Lengthen and deepen the breath.  Good.

Next, allow your focus to include both your breath and the position your body is in right now.  Notice how your seat is supporting your weight.  Where are your feet? Is your spinal column aligned and erect?   Is your chin pulled down toward your chest or thrust forward toward the screen?  Are your shoulders pulled up toward your ears or hunched around your chest?  Are the muscles at and around your perineum clenched tight?

Without causing yourself discomfort, take a moment to adjust your position so you are sitting up straighter with your head aligned at the top of your spinal column and your feet flat on the floor.  Let your shoulders drop and and your chest open.  Relax your jaw.  Unclench your buttocks and perineum.  Release the tension you have been unconsicously holding with several long breaths.  Each time you exhale, imagine the breath is taking away the tension in your body.

We have made a few very simple adjustments to the body and breath.  Notice how much has changed.  Aligning with our breath and posture help us relax and become more alert.

At best we are forgetful of our bodies.  At worst we abuse them physically and verbally. We are so accustomed to speaking negatively about and feeling negativity toward the body that we no longer pay attention to how mean our words are or how hurtful our attitudes.  If we think about the body at all, we think about what is wrong with it.  If we speak of the body, it is to complain about it.  Rarely do we notice, compliment or comment on its wonders. 

When was the last time you heard someone say, "My skin is amazing!"  How about,  "I have really strong bones," or "It's so cool that I am digesting food right now and I don't even have to think about it!" or "My stretchmarks are a beautiful reminder of my pregnancies."

Take a breath.  Think about your body.  Try not to focus on what needs strengthening, slimming, smoothing, plumping, thinning, plucking, coloring, grooming, shaping, sculpting, straightening, curling, waxing or otherwise cosmetically improving.  Try not to focus on what needs healing, cleansing, examining, testing, extracting, repairing, treating, medicating, labeling, diagnosing, numbing or otherwise medicalizing.

Are you still breathing?  Notice what happened to your breath just now as you read all those attacks on the body. When the body is threatened the heart rate increases, breath gets shallow and rapid, adrenal glands fire, muscles tense and blood vessels constrict. As a result, our thinking processes are affected. The body does not discern between physical, emotional or verbal threat.  Imagine what a constant barrage of judgement and complaint might be capable of if just reading that list caused you to unconsciously hold your breath. 
Consider your body without negative judgement if you can. Take some moments to honor this part of you that houses your Genius Self with little complaint.  Here is the skin that covers you from head to toe.  And here are the fine hairs that protect the skin and trap dust and germs trying to enter through the nostril.  Here are opposable thumbs and the fingernails which neither hurt or bleed when we cut them!  There, under the skin are hundreds of bones that keep us from pooling into a mess on the floor.  Surrounding the bones are muscles and ligaments which give us the strength to move our own weight and that of objects outside ourselves.  In the chest beats your heart without your conscious volition.  From it stretch arteries, veins and capillaries carrying blood, oxygen and nutrients to every part of your body--even the perfect curve of the ear.  Here, inside the ear, next to the beautiful spiralling cochlea is a tiny membrane which perceives sound which is carried it through the nervous system to the brain which interprets and decides how best to respond. 

Within our bodies there are literally hundreds of thousands of processes happening simultaneously at any given moment.  All of this happens without the Genius (conscious thought) having to direct it.  It is through the body that we experience the world.  Our eyes, ears, nose, nerve endings and taste buds are constantly gathering information, sensation, pleasure.  All of these systems are operating day and night, year after year, decade after decade.  What thanks does the body get for its efforts?

Give thanks to the body which is the Temple we are housed in.  It is the body that our spirit descends into in utero and the body which our spirit leaves upon death.  Imagine!  Such an elaborate and miraculous Temple constructed in honor of the magnificent spirit you are! 

When we recognize and treat the body-self as a Temple, we change our relationship to it.  By understanding the body as something sacred, we instinctively wish to keep it clean and well cared for. We intuitively want to stop poisoning, abusing it or neglecting it. Now, when we desire to change the temple, the impulse comes from care rather than disdain.  We are much more likely to make positive and lasting change based upon self care than we are to sustain any activity based upon fear, punishment or derision.
We receive so many negative messages about the body.  We cannot help but believe them after having heard them for a lifetime from everyone from parents to lovers to friend, foe, doctor, advertiser, therapist and minister.  Somewhere inside us, we knew better though.  The body knew.  The body has always known the truth.

The truth is that your body is not only a mangificent peice of machinery, it is also sacred and it is also you.  You are your body as surely as your brains and personality, your memories, emotion, hopes, dreams and spirit are housed inside of it.  May the Temple be blessed.

Take a long, slow breath.  Feel it enter the lungs and expand the diaphragm.  Give thanks to your body-self.  Really allow yourself to feel gratitude for your body.  As you breathe in, imagine your breath carrying your thanks into the lungs, the bloodstream, and throughout the body.  Imagine thanks and gratitude entering each cell, node, synapse and nerve ending.

Daily Commitments:  9-25-09. Make a commitment to catch yourself when you think, say or do something harmful toward your body. We aren't doing this to berate or punish ourselves for our thoughts so take care not to go that route. Rather, when you catch yourself just take a slow, deep breath and as you exhale release the impulse to pick on yourself. Continue to take long, extended breaths. As you do, adjust your posture and release the unconscious tension in your body. Finally, think of two compliments for your body. Really feel the truth of these two compliments. Breathe into them so their importance expands. Imagine that as you breathe, this positive message is being carried by your breath into all the cells of your body. If you really want a challenge, imagine your breath carrying the compliment directly to the parts of your body you are honoring. Take one more extended breath and say/think, "My body is the Temple and I am honored to live within it."


You may also/alternately want to make a commitment to do one nice thing for your body today. This shouldn't cost anything and should not involve food. Some suggestions are: lotion your feet while you thank them for carrying you around; soak in the tub and pay attention to your body stress melting away; go to bed early and give your mind a break; ask someone to give you a manicure; make love and give thanks for the pleasure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Genius

There is a genius inside us.

Slow down for a moment.  Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.  Come into your body more fully.

Now, let's notice what our minds are busy with.  Notice that we are deciphering symbols which form a language which enables us to share information and ideas across time and space.  We might also be listening to music, thinking about dinner and noticing the temperature of the room. 

Over the course of one day your mind might use speech and written language, solve math equations, exchange money, maneuver heavy machinery, follow directions, read music, develop solutions, make complex decisions, reason deductively, sing songs from memory, follow through on plans made in the past, write a poem, prepare a meal, tie a knot, engage with laws of physics, make plans for the future, plot a garden, teach someone else something and interact socially with others of your species. This, of course is just the beginning of a very long list! 

It's no wonder we're tired at the end of the day.  Yet, even while we sleep, our minds are busy teasing out solutions to problems or literally dreaming up new and useful ideas.

For most of us, this continuous intake, sorting and output of information takes such little effort we aren't even aware we are thinking!  We are smarter than we believe.

When was the last time you recognized or gave yourself credit for your genius?  Sadly, we are accustomed to taking ourselves for granted.  We might habitually belittle ourselves with name calling or allow others to do the same.  We might believe stories we were told about ourselves in school or at home when we were children.  We may have never considered the magnitude of our own minds because no one told us we were geniuses!

Take another long breath while you consider your genius now.

No matter what may have happened in the past which led you to negate or undermine your Genius Self, know that the truth is you have a brilliant mind.

Daily Commitment:  9-24-09. Today, make a point to stop two or three times over the course of your day and take a long, slow breath. Notice all the ways your Genius Self is engaged. Honor this part of you who is working on solutions even while you sleep. Allow yourself to really feel wonder and honor as you contemplate the enormity of your own mind. Breathe into these feelings of wonder and honor so they expand. When you feel full, exhale with an "aaaaahhhhhh" sound and imagine all the universe smiling in acknowledgement of your brilliance.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lengthening Shadows

Autumn is full upon us now.  We turn our backs on summer and orient ourselves toward the lengthening shadows of oncoming winter.  Here, we count the many blessings of our internal harvest.  There is much to give thanks for.  Take a moment now to notice those things and give thanks.  You can do this by feeling gratitude and expressing that either silently or out loud.  Really allow yourself to feel gratitude.  Breathe into it.  Notice how it expands with your breath.

And note as well what we are letting go of.  What is no longer sustainable?  Imagine it as an autumn leaf picked up by the wind and carried away from you.  Let it go.  Give thanks for this, too.  For the release as well as the space it leaves within you. 

These cycles are always at work within us.  Their outer manifestation as seasonal change helps remind us to go within and find what is reflected there. 

Something is always coming into being.  Something is always passing away.  Something always abides beneath the changes.  What is that something in you?

In identifying and naming the core which abides, we honor and strengthen it.  Align with the part of you which is already whole, healthy and smiling.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome Joy

Soul Alignments is a blog space for Karina's musings on aligning our Soul's Purpose with the demands of real life.

A radical spiritual practitioner who has trained and initiated in a variety of esoteric and academic societies, I believe Joy is available to us all right now. We don't have to wait for an afterlife, enlightenment or achievement of perfection. We don't have to wait until we fall in love, finish our degree, lose fifteen pounds or quit smoking. We don't need to wait until the divorce is final, the kids are grown or for our next birthday to arrive. We don't even have to wait until the weekend gets here. Joy is right here, right now if you want it.

Take a breath and let those words sink in.

Joy is here, right now. What a relief!

Feels pretty good doesn't it?

Sound too simple to be true? Consider that we have been listening to messages our entire lives that tell us

*Work hard now so we can be happy later
*Postpone contentment until everything else is finished
*Put ourselves last
*Set aside passion in order to obtain and keep a "real" job
*Spiritual ecstasy is for priests, monks and saints
*It's selfish to want more
*A prescription will negate existential longing
*Happiness is over-rated

You get the picture. Far from being a Pollyanna, I write about how to live by radically holistic spiritual principles which not only bring about but celebrate in the present moment such experiences as joy, abundance, sex, beauty, passion, pride, love, peace, respect and honesty.

Look to the top of the right hand column on this page. Make the Daily Commitment to yourself. Do it. You'll not only feel better, you'll do better and be better.