consciousness, spirituality, Uncategorized

Curiouser and Curiouser

Today was mysterious.  As I was walking along with Judy Brubaker I missed a call from an unknown number.  I began thinking that maybe it was Oprah, or Quincy Jones, or anyone!  Then I realized why the “unknown” was so awesome; it had infinite potential!  It could’ve been the president calling!  And if it was, I’m sure he’ll try again later anyways.

In the midst of that call was my walk with Judy.  That was even more mysterious.  I didn’t know Judy before this.  I had merely been walking home, found an elderly woman unable to unlock her door, and asked if she needed help.  She told me she didn’t but would love to go on a walk with me.  I obliged.  I had no way of knowing who this woman was, but she told me about herself.  She was 89 years old, had been living in Chicago for the past 50 years, and used to be a film star in Hollywood during the early 1950s.  I believed her, but she seemed a bit forgetful, and at the back of my mind I was still wondering what her story truly was.  She then told me she still sings on Wednesday nights at Maggiano’s, but hadn’t since her recent surgery.  She sang a few lines for me and I was amazed; she did in fact have a beautiful voice.

She insisted that I leave her where she was and continue my walk home, but I refused.  I told her that I must walk her back home.  So we slowly walked along, but as we got closer she made me leave her side, saying she didn’t want her husband to think she was doing anything crazy. I walked ahead of her but I made sure I saw her walk back up the stairs to the door where we first encountered each other.  She must have gotten inside because I didn’t see her as I walked back up the street in the direction of my apartment.  I felt so compelled to know what she was doing, what her life was like.  We made a real connection and at this point I still have no idea why.

When I got home I decided to Google her.  Judy has in fact lived in Chicago the past 50 years, does still sing occasionally at Maggiano’s, and was a film star during the early 1950s.  I was amazed!  I had just been on a walk with the Judy Brubaker!  I may never know the meaning of our encounter.  I also may never know who the unknown caller was.  But the mystery is so curious, and so enjoyable.  Many things in life are inexplicable.  Many of the things that we do explain away are, in truth, inexplicable as well.  Although the mind prefers to label and have things fit into its set parameters of perception, the world beyond such explanations is more alive, more real, and more curious than one could imagine.  One of the greatest lessons I have received is to embrace the mystery.  Shout out to the universe, “I just don’t know! I have no idea!” It is at that point that the miraculous has an opportunity to appear.  It is at that point that anything can happen.

This is a video I found on YouTube of Judy singing at Maggiano’s:

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consciousness

The Stranger Who Killed My Ego

Happy Sign

One night a few summers back I went to the gym, and feeling quite proud of myself decided to walk home to keep the momentum going.  As I was briskly walking along, with my rainbow New Balances and a big grin on my face, a young artist who could’ve been my age asked me to look at his photographs.  I admired them, complimented his artistic eye, and was about to continue on my way home.  But before I could, he started asking me if I was going to buy them.  I told him I had no money on me but that I wished him good luck with his work.

Instead of the usual disappointed face and goodbye, I received a totally unexpected barrage of questions.  Did I really have no money at all?  Couldn’t I go to the ATM? Don’t I just live off my parents’ money anyway?  I admitted I was blessed and did in fact have some money to my name, but that I too was an artist, working part time.  He wouldn’t stop asking questions.  I could have made the choice to walk away.  In my mind it was important to just watch him and see him as a human being.  But when someone is completely taken over by the voice in their head, as he clearly was, the most helpful thing can be to choose a new situation, and exit.

Saying things like “I am blessed” and telling him how, as a poet, I understand how difficult it is to make money, set me up for a barrage of attacks on my religion, and my art.  “Oh yeah right, we’re all poets aren’t we?” he sarcastically remarked.  Along with, “If you really were religious you would go and get money right now but you’re not, so I guess you aren’t really what you say you are.”  On and on he went.  And I just stood there in awe, listening.

Eventually I gave it up as a bad job and walked away, tears streaming down my face.  He had attacked every identification I held dear.  He tore down all of the things I associated with to give me an identity.  He acted as if he could not see me at all, as if I were not a real person standing in front of him.  He may have appeared like many of my acquaintances from art school, with his hipster clothing and shaggy hair, but he didn’t seem to relate to me on any level.

I was in shambles the rest of my walk home; you would have thought something truly terrible had happened.  But I knew in the deep recesses of my consciousness that something terrible had not happened to me, it happened to my ego.  The part of me that attached itself to things and ideas had been belittled.  The voice in my head that demanded others take it seriously, and believe in what is says, had been attacked with no chance of retribution.  Not my true self, but the mind which seeks outside things to feel secure and to attain an identity, that ego self, had been greatly diminished.  He had claimed to know me better than myself.  He took everything I thought I was, and laughed at it, claimed it was all one big hoax.

Now I can say, thank God for this stranger.  Everything he said, all of the parts of me he attacked, were much too specific to be meaningless.  The universe is a beautiful being, who used this man, a person completely taken over by his ego, to show me the vestiges of my own ego.  The universe teaches lessons through joy, but it can also use negative people and situations for your good.

Since I couldn’t defend myself after parting ways with this stranger, my ego could not repair itself.  It couldn’t build itself back up, dig its heals in, and explain why it was what it said it was.  Whenever the ego is diminished without being repaired, space is created for your true self to emerge, that which is beyond thoughts and emotions.  Instead of defending my beliefs about who I was, I allowed myself to let go of what others thought of me, along with letting go of what I thought about of myself.  No thoughts, no labels, are who I am.  Nothing I can ever think about myself will ever come close to the reality of my being.  That stranger was a small flame of refining fire, burning up the egoic mind-made self, leaving room for my eternal being to live more fully through me.  It did not feel good.  I was amazed by how truly terrible it felt.  But through acceptance, the pain dissolved, along with the resilient attachments that are the ego, and I was still there.  Completely whole, undiminished, and open to life as it really was.  We don’t need others to define who we are.  We don’t need ourselves to define who we are.  Beyond definitions, we just are.

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spirituality, Uncategorized

What Makes You Present?

536192_10151747318244894_586462762_nPhoto by Rob Kleeman

Today I had the privilege of performing with my family band at a town festival.  Waiting to perform is nerve-racking for me.  But the second I’m on stage and begin to sing all of the nerves just float away, and I’m there, completely present.  I love the feeling of being totally in the moment.  One of my favorite aspects of presence is the experience of joy; the natural state of being that is usually covered up by thoughts and emotions.

 What makes you present?  What snaps you out of thinking and brings in you completely into the moment? 

Presence can be practiced in any situation, but a great place to start is by finding a situation that tunes you into the now.  It could be yoga, taking a walk, straightening your hair, driving, singing, anything at all!  When you find that thing that snaps you into the present, it isn’t really that thing that is so enjoyable.  The joy comes from being fully in the now, without psychological past and future taking up all of your attention.  So give yourself a gift and begin practicing being in the now.  Start with whatever brings you joy!

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consciousness, spirituality, Uncategorized

Wondrous Perception

When I really pay attention I can hear my mind labeling the things and situations it perceives.  It says things like, “Wow, the moon is so bright tonight,” and, “The sky is very blue today!”  But attaching words to my perceptions doesn’t mean I actually have any idea what I’m seeing.  Perception becomes miraculous and new when you can see without mentally labeling everything.  When labels are gone, we can see things for the wonders they truly are.

This video is a beautiful example of the magic of perception:

Thanks to Pilobolus for this amazing work, and thanks to Marc and Angel Hack Life for introducing me to this video!

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consciousness, spirituality, Uncategorized

Confirmation That “Anything Can Happen”

Part of the first experiment in E-Squared by Pam Grout is giving yourself a two-day time frame in which to look for the “field of potential” to present itself to you in a clear way.  You look for a gift, for something to come out of the abundance that is in and all around you.

I started this experiment yesterday, Thursday, at 5:05pm.  In last night’s post I mentioned that I went to a dance show at Columbia College Chicago.  I was looking for the “field of potential,” or God, or the universe, the whole time.  When the song “Anything Can Happen” by Elie Goulding came on during the show I thought maybe that was the sign.  But I wasn’t sure, so I continued to ask the universe for a clear sign of its presence.  This morning on my way to work I saw a cute wooden box under a tree and thought, “could this be the sign?”  But I wasn’t that interested in the box, so once again I asked for a very clear sign.

Today we took the kids in our summer program on a field trip to a museum.  We were having a great time.  I remembered, as we were walking around to the different exhibits, to keep looking for this highest potential to present itself to me.  I then checked my cell phone to see what time it was.  I noticed I had a new voicemail from a number I didn’t recognize.  I was so curious I listened to it right then, and heard a voice saying “Hi this is a message for Katie.  I’m calling from the Dance Movement Therapy program at Columbia, and wanted to let you know that you won our raffle from last night!  Congratulations!  Please call me back to let me know when you can come pick up your prize.”

So that is what a clear sign is!  And as if the experiment hadn’t gone well enough already, when I called the woman back I asked her what the prize included.  There had been a couple different prize packages.  The one I won included one month of unlimited yoga classes at a yoga studio that is on the same street, literally steps, from the front door of the new apartment I’m moving into in September.  Now that is what I call the “field of potential” saying, “Hey Katie, what’s up?  I’m here!”

Is there any downside to asking the universe to show you the best of itself?  To believing that all encompassing abundance is on its way to you right now? As I said in yesterday’s post, the worst thing that can happen is that nothing happens.  The best thing that can happen is beyond your wildest imagination!  What miracles are you looking for in your life today?  Are you expecting great things to happen?  Even if you don’t yet know what you want, you can always ask for a clear sign from the universe to show you the unlimited wonders it has to offer.

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consciousness, spirituality, Uncategorized

“Anything Can Happen”

I’m still reading E-Squared by Pam Grout and it has reminded me of what I’m always trying to convince myself of. Namely, that the world is wondrous when you look for the wonder. The universe rises to meet you where you are, with the situations and things your perception accepts as possible and real. Why not see what happens when you drop the conditioned ideas about what life is, and decide that miracles are everywhere and are readily available to you?

When you look for that highest potential you are much more likely to allow your perception to actually see it expressed in your life.  And if you’re like me and your mind needs a little more convincing, ask yourself: why not?

Why not see what happens when you decide something wonderful is currently happening in your life? Why not see what life is like when you ask it to show you the best it has to offer? The worst thing that could happen is that nothing happens. The best thing that could happen is that all your dreams come true. Theres no “losing” side of suspending your disbelief and deciding to see the best of your imagination manifest before your eyes. So why not try it, and ask the universe to give you a clear sign of the abundance it has ready and waiting for you.

Tonight I went to see my former teaching assistant perform at the Dance Movement Therapy show at Columbia College Chicago. When this song came on I heard the universe saying “Yes I’m here, keep watching what I can do!”

Thanks to Ellie Goulding for this performance of your song “Anything Can Happen” and to Ellen!

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consciousness, spirituality

Letting Go – Of Everything

Per the advice of spiritual teacher Wayne Dyer I decided to start reading E-Squared: Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality by Pam Grout. I am so excited about this book. I can barely put it down. In the coming weeks I will talk more about creating dreams, and living the highest potential of each moment. I have been blessed already with seeing my inner dreams manifest in my out outer reality in ridiculously amazing ways, but as is the nature of life, it is a moment to moment practice. As I was reading, this particular passage moved me:

 

When I find my consciousness operating outside “the now,” which is unfortunately a great percentage of the time, I gently remind myself of this analogy: The UPS driver just delivered to my house every single thing I’ve ever wanted, but because I’ve left the building, I don’t even realize it. I’m out hunting for paltry substitutes. Everything is right there, once I bring my consciousness back to the timelessness of “now.” (Grout 12)

 

Keeping your attention on the now opens up endless possibilities for your good, it is the only place of power, the only moment you’ll ever actually experience. I was reminded of a post I wrote a couple weeks ago but hadn’t yet published. As I re-read it now, I see that the practice of letting go I was experiencing, was the practice of moving back into the present:

I was on a walk today and some anxious thoughts were running through my mind. Some were trying to figure things out, some were about my health and what I should and should not be doing. (For you those thoughts may manifest differently.) As I was walking along it dawned on me that I could make the decision to let go of the anxious thoughts, to not create problems with my mind. This realization dawns on me quite often, which I appreciate, because every moment is a moment to let go of.

I then began thinking that letting go of something, ultimately leads to letting go of everything. Eventually when you discorporate you will be given the opportunity to let go of all things. The peace that comes with such a radical relinquishment can be enjoyed now, while still in this reality. As I walked, new thoughts kept coming into my head and I kept saying, “I can let go of this too.” Then I would place my attention on my immediate surroundings, moving more deeply into the now. Each thing that came up that I let go of gave me a new sensation of peace and appreciation for the experience of the present moment.

Then my mind said, “What about your loved ones? Can you let go of them?” And I tried to figure it out. I had more thoughts trying to reason how I would be able to let go of the people I loved when they passed on. I couldn’t figure it out. So that became what I let go of. I let go of not knowing how to let go. The brilliant thing about the universe is that when you can’t let go of something it helps you along. Someday I may be in a position to let go of those who I love and am extremely attached to in their current form.  But that doesn’t exist for me in my current now.  And when it does, it will still be the now, the place where all miracles, love, and power reside.  I haven’t let go as of yet, haven’t accepted that we all change forms, and that I can accept and let go of.

And with that as I walked along, I was brought back into the timeless, deathless now, the radiant glow of existence revealing its majesty more and more with each “letting go.”

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