Feminism

The Enemy Of Feminism

A ChainLabels often lead to misunderstandings but right now I feel like putting this label out there for greater clarity.  I’m a feminist. I’m a feminist in a big, unapologetic way.

Feminism is a movement that says all human beings are equal, are of equal worth, and have the inherent right to live free from the shackles of prescribed gender roles and the institutions which were built around them.

The energy described as femininity has long been oppressed in both men and women, leaving both at a disadvantage.  This created a history where women, and the feminine energy in men, continually suffered marginalization and disenfranchisement.

As a feminist I am free to say that I accept your life choices, whether you are a man or woman, and honor your individual journey.  Feminism, like other movements aligned with the natural progression of the universe towards justice, love, and peace, is at its core one more pointer towards the inherent unity of life.

One of the great aspects of feminism that I admire in the women and men who act upon its principles is the ability to look again.  Feminism takes a look at what our minds have created and asks whether or not they are true and useful.  It asks, is the manner in which I am treating and perceiving a person and her choices based upon the lens of my own life experience?  It asks, can I gain new insights by looking at human beings that seem different from me, free from the story my mind has already created about them?

The enemy of feminism isn’t men and it isn’t women.  The enemy of feminism isn’t ignorant bloggers who have large audiences that are quick to agree with their unexamined inflammatory judgments.  The enemy of feminism is not women who behave this way or that way.

What is the enemy of a person attempting to look upon other human beings in a new way, regardless of their previous assumptions?  That, of course, is the ego itself.    The ego is created when who you are gets all wrapped up with the thoughts that you have.  Strong opinions, stories, assumptions, and an us-versus-them mentality is the birthplace and breeding ground for the ego.  This is also why, for all the ego’s hatred of the meaning of feminism, it loves the label, it loves the thought that it can then use as fuel for its pseudo-life. If feminism is more than just a bundle of thoughts in your mind that you do or do not identify with, then you are experiencing its meaning beyond ego.

So before you go judging women and men for sharing their unique life experiences from their perspectives, laugh at the voice in your head.  If you can do that, the voice in your mind hasn’t become the ego, and you can still enact the principles of feminism by seeing the true worth of every human being from freshly unveiled eyes.

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Peace

How To Deal With Other People

HopeWhat can you accept in other human beings?  If we look within, most of us will find that there is a certain level of “otherness” we are able to accept, beyond which tolerance dissolves.

This is more obviously the case when we examine our feelings towards people who are dangerous, break laws, or don’t adhere to societal norms of behavior.  On a more subtle level, I see it on the CTA during Chicago’s morning commute, when two people have a loud conversation instead of scrolling through their iPhones.   In that moment a humorously clear gulf is created between the quiet majority, and the atypical loud morning conversationalists.

What creates this separation between people?  It is born of thoughts and opinions in the mind that are completely bought into.  Luckily this can be overcome more easily than it would appear, even in the face of humanity’s long history of alienating others who seem too different to allow.

When you are able to observe these thoughts as they happen, you haven’t immediately identified with them and taken them as truth.  When you see thoughts of separation in the mind, that witnessing provides the choice between alienation and inclusion.  It provides the opportunity to not accept judgment of others as absolute truth.  Before peace becomes more noticeable on a societal level, this small decision will be building its firm foundation.

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consciousness

How To Complain

Have you ever let go of a persistent unhelpful pattern of thought?  As I’ve attempted to let go of automatic thought patterns I’ve noticed that my mind has no shortage of other patterns that work just as efficiently as fuel for thought.

One of the easiest thought patterns to get trapped in is complaining.  Complaining can be effortless, especially when it involves a situation where a correction really needs to be made.  But situations can be righted in ways that don’t create personal blame, negative energy, and food for more autopilot thinking.  A helpful question to ask before complaining about a situation is, “Am I taking this personally?”  Right away a space is created between your reaction and your conscious self.

I’ve been too excited about the rebroadcast of Oprah and Tolle’s A New Earth web-series, and I love the following video because it so clearly lays out the two ways to complain, their consequences, and how to end up with your desired outcome.

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Inspiration

How To Be Abundant In The Midst Of Lack

photo-14In the middle of the night as I lay in bed drifting off to sleep during a particularly humorous episode of Futurama, I had the idea to check my bank account and bills.  This one small thought, instantly acted upon, led me to attempt to figure out how everything is going to work out with a looming credit card bill, rent just having been deducted, and a future with a job funded by a grant that is a few months away from ending.

In unconscious moments the ego easily gains a strong hold on your attention. It presents thoughts that you already strongly identify with, in moments where you will follow those thoughts to the point of action, creating a reality not based upon real life, but upon a thought pattern.

It was all too easy to stay awake even longer with a train of thought that I kept running after as if it could somehow help me.

That is the illusion.  Identification with thought always seems like it will benefit you, because thoughts are created to promote themselves.  Thoughts are quite good at convincing your attention they are important and necessary often to the detriment of your actual welfare and living reality.

I could see, as the night dwindled, I was being taken in not only by thought patterns but also by negative emotions, and however attractive that negative energy may seem at the time, it cannot improve any situation.  The night eventually set me about sleeping.

SnowToday Chicago is a blanket of luminescent snow, a task to navigate through but incredible to behold.  The abundance of life is making itself impossible to miss.  It is everywhere and affects everything around it.  An abundance of snow is an outward manifestation of the nature of the universe, of life itself.  The fact of the outer existence of form is the evidence of the overflowing abundance of the ether, of God.

Creation, abundance, life begins in the formless, it begins within.  The formless is the foundation from which all outer form manifests. For all of the things in this world, like money, love, enjoyment, knowledge, we first must set the platform from which it will manifest outwardly in form.  There has to be an inner reality first.

No matter how many reasons your mind gives you to worry, and believe that your immediately perceived situation is your end-all be-all, you will not achieve change or prosperity until you experience the reality of abundance within yourself, as yourself.  You are living proof of an abundant universe where we have the opportunity to exist and thrive, and for our needs to be met and exceeded.

Experiment with feeling abundance in the present moment.  Look around and see the abundance of things, of electricity, of water, of snow, of people, and know that it is your reality.  For me, when I get into a place where all I see is lack I take a little while to snap out of it.  Listing in your mind what you are grateful for can help bring you into a prosperous state and give you a real experience of the abundant nature of the universe. Then with a clear mind and an open heart you can observe the transformation of your situation, however it may look.

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consciousness

What Just Happened?

NYE

New Year’s Eve Dinner at Bop and Mimi’s

It seems only a moment ago I was sitting in front of the fireplace at my grandparents’ house feeling completely at ease with my loving family all around me.

Annually in the weeks leading up to New Year’s Day my cousins from New Jersey stay at my grandparents’ house in the Chicago suburbs, along with my Uncle Joe from California, and we truly have ourselves a time.  Every day is filled with one delightful activity after another, always followed by a home cooked meal, and lounging around while enjoying each other’s presence.

Pancake House

Brother Joey, Cousins Jessica, Miriam, and Annie

After our time together we all return to our respective locations; I leave the suburbs and return to my apartment in Chicago.  Hopes and dreams for the new year usually don’t begin to creep into my consciousness until several weeks after my cousins have left.

When launching back into my usual situation I have to first focus on acceptance.  Good or bad, when change occurs I easily identify with the situation.  My thoughts and feelings become based upon the change I experience.  Whether I react to the transition with great sadness, or with great expectations for the future, the nonacceptance is the ego taking hold. Because I hold onto nonacceptance, my actions become out of alignment with the present moment.

Cousins

Joey, Miriam, Katie, and Jessica on Christmas Eve

It is now my intention to send love to what has been, and allow myself to return to the only moment where such joy and love as I experienced with my family can ever exist, right now

Is there anything, good or bad, on which you have a strong internal grip?  Take a breath and allow it to be as it was.  Now give yourself permission to come back to what is real, come back to the present.

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Inspiration

Why I Changed My Mind About Sam Harris

A few weeks ago my aunt Nancy sent me a video that blew me away.  I was about to share it when I discovered the speaker was none other than Sam Harris, a popular critic of religion.

That same evening after I decided posting something by Harris wouldn’t be in keeping with my own views and intentions of peace and unity, I posted an entirely different video and received an email that another blogger had “liked” it along with a list of popular posts to check on their blog.  The first post I saw written by this blogger was entitled, “Atheist Sam Harris changed my perception of him forever when he said this.”  I was led right back to the video I had tried to stay away from.

I was snapped out of my identification with my own views, along with the thoughts and opinions I had attached Sam Harris to. Human beings are not the thoughts they think, the opinions they hold, or the perceptions others have of them.  My perception of who another person is will never come close to the reality of their being.  Now, after letting go of the need to know who Sam Harris is, it is clear to see that attaching myself to a judgement about another person will cut me off from experiencing the gifts they offer to the world.

It is with an open mind, and understanding heart, that I gladly share this beautiful moment of presence:

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consciousness

What I Know About You

Katie, Joey, and GregA few weeks ago I heard a speaker on education, but instead of learning about adolescent behavior I was taught a lesson in the behavior of my own mind.  A person in the back of the auditorium had been chatting throughout the session, and my mind was not okay with it.  Instead of focusing on that which I had showed up for, my thoughts were preoccupied with judgement.  Even afterwards when the event had passed and was no more than a thought in my mind, I chose to keep the memory of a person I deemed “rude” alive through further internal judgement, not to mention commiserating with my friend who had also noticed this slight disruption.

In my last post I celebrated the incomprehensible mystery that is every individual human being.  When my mind was busy judging a person for behavior I felt was unacceptable I was operating completely unaware of this intrinsic truth.

How do we foster compassion for other human beings when it is so easy to reduce them into nothing more than thoughts in our heads?  The following video with author Karen Armstrong, on Super Soul Sunday, offers concrete tools for experiencing the depth of inherent mystery within all people:

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consciousness

“In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.” ― Rumi

By Peter Spero

Opinions are mind candy.  Candy can be enjoyable in moderation, but in excess leads to discomfort, illness, and cavities.  Facts can exist without the added sugar coating of an opinion.

When used in moderation, opinions can be useful tools for action in alignment with the reality of the present moment.  Identification with opinions, which is to the ego as spinach is to Popeye, creates a veil of thought over all perception.  Present moment reality becomes obscured; you can no longer see the depth of the lake because of the billows of sand just beneath the surface.

There is an easy way to settle the sand and see clear through to the bottom of the lake.  Identification with opinions can be dissolved merely by noticing the opinions as they arise.  Once you can see yourself thinking, you no longer are your thoughts.  What will the world look like from this new perspective?  “When the  soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about,” (Rumi).

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consciousness

No internet no TV make Katie something something…

SimpsonsOne of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons involves Homer being caught in a situation in which he is utterly without beer or television, and subsequently goes mad.  The past couple of days I have humorously found myself in such a position.

I have no internet access and no television.  As soon as the repair people can make it over to my place they will find out what is wrong and fix the problem, but for now I have neither.  Moreover, I realized a couple of days ago that I am out of cellphone data, leaving me without internet more completely than I otherwise would have been.  So how am I even writing this post?  I’m staying late at my place of work where the internet is gloriously plentiful!

Going without internet and TV is not a problem, but as I have discovered, my ego feels differently.  Last night when I realized that there wasn’t any quick fix to the issue I immediately became stressed.  I started to think about all of the work I had to do that I couldn’t get done, and all of the essential tasks that I had planned on completing which require the use of the internet.  (I am also a big TV fan but I find that a lot easier to let go of).

My boyfriend taught me a great lesson in not perpetuating stress when he left me to myself for a moment and decided not to become stressed out by the situation along with me.  It is so easy to take on the emotions of others you are close to, but it also creates more of that which is causing the pain.  Along with this great reminder of how to stay present even when those around you are taken over by thoughts or emotions, I also found out how attached I was to these luxuries.   I had become identified with my outer circumstance.

I showered and listened to Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, which I find always snaps me out of identification with form, the ego.  The more present I became, the more I smiled at my ego.  In the calming hot water it became easier to see that the voice in my head was attached to the situation and to the idea that my needs were not being met.

A great teacher recently talked to me about seeing the world as God, or the universe, sees the world.  This means looking at the world just as it is, with complete acceptance.  I didn’t know how I was going to get directions to all of the places I had to visit today.  I didn’t know how I was going to email myself a lesson plan, or write on my blog.  But when I took a moment to look at my situation without demanding it be a certain way there was no longer any stress, there was no longer anything to worry about.  As the invaluable quote, which I often use to comfort myself in times of stress or worry, from the movie Gravity states, “no harm, no foul.”

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consciousness

The Mind Magnet

By Peter SperoToday I noticed a constant pull within me to scroll through various things on my phone.  I would put on my makeup, and then check my email.  Get dressed, scroll through Facebook.  Sit down on the bus, surf the web.  The magnetic pull of my phone started feeling very obvious so I decided to put it away and not use it.

Then I was looking out of the bus window and I started thinking about what I had said in a conversation last night.  My mind then jumped to what I was about to do at work.  Back and forth, my thoughts fluctuated between past and future.  I noticed sitting there on the bus that just as the phone had a magnetic pull towards it, so did my mind.  I decided to let go of the past and future thoughts and let myself be in the moment I was living.

A few seconds passed and once again I was reliving an event, and making up scenarios about future events.  I noticed.  I let it go.  I was back on the bus, staring out of the window looking at the rain and a little taco stand in a parking lot.  Even when I had brought myself back into the moment I could feel the pull of my mind on my attention.  It was magnetic.

By Peter SperoDo you ever notice that your mind keeps pulling you in even when you make a conscious choice to be in the present moment?  Do you ever come back into the actual moment you are experiencing and realize you had been wrapped up in thoughts for a long period of time?  Have you ever had the experience of listening to someone, and at the end of the conversation realize you had no idea what they were talking about because you were thinking the whole time?

If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, congratulations!  You are aware of your thoughts!  For many, they never realize they are wrapped up in thinking, because they have been completely taken over by the mind.  The mind is living through them and they have no idea that they are not the voice in their head.  To notice that your mind has a magnetic quality that is constantly pulling you in is the flowering of your consciousness.  You have separated who you are, the one who notices the thoughts, from the thoughts themselves.

While it may seem that there should be a fix for this, a solid solution for the magnetic mind, the solution is already arising if you can notice when you are thinking.  That is your awareness gaining strength.  Each time you recognize you’ve been pulled into thoughts, and out of the present, you have given yourself an opportunity to operate from the only place of true power, the only space where anything actually happens, the present moment.

The more often you gently take away attention from the mind and place it on your surroundings, the easier it will become, and the more the infinite intelligence of consciousness will guide your actions.  In this way the highest potential contained within each present moment has the opportunity to manifest in your life.  Being present now creates a miraculous future.

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