Healing In The Holy Land

Sea of Galilee
When I introduced myself to the man sitting next to me, who would become my brother on a tour bus that would become our home for ten days in Israel, I mentioned that I wrote for Let Yourself Learn.  He asked me how the blog started and I was brought back to over a year ago when I experienced the traumatic series of events that became the basis for the first trilogy of posts on this site entitled, “The Bed Bug Incident: Parts 1, 2, and 3.”

This WayNot only did those little bugs teach me about inner surrender, acceptance, and becoming comfortable with the unknown, but they also prompted the attempt to manifest my inner lessons into words to be shared with others, that we might mutually benefit from the experience.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to embark on an adventure in Israel, despite the turmoil in the Middle East, and decided to trust the voice of silence within myself that prompted me to pack my suitcase and head to the airport.

After the first few nights on the trip a couple of the participants suffered from several uncomfortable bug bites.  A visit to the doctor and the verdict was in: pishpeshim.  What were the pishpeshim you ask?  None other than bed bugs themselves.

At the Market

Over a year later, half way around the globe, my pesky spiritual teachers returned with a new lesson.  In the first series of posts for Let Yourself Learn I had been shown the areas within myself that needed healing.  I was relying on non-existent outer security and comfort. I was holding onto pain long after I had experienced it. I allowed the life of my mind to thrive at the expense of my own enjoyment.

Now, in a land of both great pain and unimaginable joy, holy to generation upon generation of human beings, I was being shown the ways in which I had been healed.  The pishpeshim became one of the more hilarious foibles of the group, and the ridiculous amount of education I had acquired about bed bugs from my own experience became beneficial and happily utilized by those who were affected.

The experience of time is but a question: what is good and bad?  The present is the punch line.

Israeli FamilyThe pishpeshim incident was just a small moment in what turned out to be one of the most monumental experiences I have yet to witness in my short life. No story, no combination of words, can express the gratitude of my soul more than the tears of joy that still come to my eyes when I take a moment to notice the overwhelming love from the people I connected with that continues to linger in my heart.

So what was the main lesson that I was being taught by my experience in Israel? I learned that it is impossible to understand the real situation and life experience of a person, a nation, and a society, by mere words uttered in a news program. I learned that the brilliance of our tour guide, Iftah, wasn’t born just of his knowledge and expertise, but of his unwavering request that we remain present. I learned that there is courage, bravery, and the strength to persevere in depths of the human heart that I have yet to penetrate.

Tel AvivBut the lesson that brings tears of gratitude and peace to my being, is that no matter where I go in the world, I can always be loved. Whether we are far from home, or in an unhappy home, the love that is the makeup of our being can be reflected back to us through the eyes of another.

In the post right before I left, I mentioned that inner security is the only true security. But that isn’t entirely true. Outer security can be experienced in the form of love. Our love for one another is our greatest security and our purest freedom.   To all those I encountered on this journey, thank you for your love. Know that I love you more than there are stars in the clear desert sky. And even if you weren’t physically on this journey with me, whenever one is loved, one is loved by all, and I thank you.


The Flamingo Metaphor

James's Flamingo

When I turned on my TV today I was greeted by a woman at the zoo with her children, lamenting her newfound realization that flamingos cannot, in fact, fly.  (While I have seen videos of flamingos flying, these particular flamingos couldn’t.  So for the sake of the metaphor let’s just discuss these non-flying flamingos.)  As I appreciated her heartfelt woe, a poem came to me, as follows:

The Flamingo Situation

vain people become flamingos
they come back all pinked up
standing on that skinny leg
spreading their wings
and pointing their noses
as high as their necks will carry them
as they look up and see
their soaring brothers and sisters
they will bend bony knees
and with a great push
stay exactly where they are

In the poem I refer to “vain” people.  But truer than that, is the plight of those completely identified with their physical form and thoughts.  Before some degree of the realization of being, of the body as a vehicle for consciousness to enter the world of form, the physical world can be a terrible burden.  After all, bodies are vulnerable, and inevitably subject to decay.

While matter doesn’t disappear, it always changes form, manifests as something new.  For the one all wrapped up in the fears of the physical world, peace and joy are always just beyond reach.  Fear is always just a bit too weighty.

The flamingos on TV were beautiful.  But what is it like  to be a bird that doesn’t fly?  What is it like to be a human identified with forms and thoughts?  It is to leave the highest manifestation of your being unrealized.  Your highest potential inoperative.  When those flamingos change form, they will soar to previously unimaginable heights.  When humans change their attention from form, to presence, there are no more barriers, only an endless sea of dreams come true.

consciousness, spirituality

The Pathway to Peace

Yesterday I talked about knowing the truth versus feeling the truth.  I posited that feeling the truth requires surrender, trust, and being present in the moment in order that evidence of the spiritual truth you are attempting to feel within can present itself.

One of the most miraculous tools for feeling peace, trust, joy, balance, energy, bliss, and anything else you desire, is meditation.  Meditation doesn’t seem fun or interesting at first, and that thought can prevent one from trying it.  But once you start to attempt a short meditation each day, a routine like brushing your teeth or taking your vitamins, it becomes easy and enjoyable.  Not only does sitting in meditation become more comfortable after making it a routine, it starts to create visible positive changes in your everyday life.  The practice of living all of the wonderful spiritual principles, that in your mind you know will improve your life exponentially, begins by simply sitting in silence.

Meditation creates space within that is normally occupied with thoughts and emotions.  When you clean out your inner space, the universe has a vessel in which to express its highest potential. Eventually when meditating you can feel this flow of universal energy as love, joy, and boundless peace.  Miracles begin take place within and without.

To begin practicing meditation I highly recommend Deepak Chopra’s “21 Day Meditation Challenge.”  This particular bout of the meditation challenge is a collaboration between Deepak and Oprah entitled “Miraculous Relationships.”  This is a free online program that offers a new 15 minute guided meditation every day for 21 days. Oprah and Deepak offer invaluable guidance throughout each meditation, and the music is beautiful.  Deepak has done several meditation challenges in the past, and each one has completely changed my life in ways I could have never imagined.  Many blessings as you go forth into the practice.  If you have any questions, comments, or experiences you would like to share about this meditation challenge, or other experiences with meditation, please leave a comment.

Here is the link to get started with your new meditation practice:

consciousness, spirituality

How The Mind Convinces Itself It’s Correct

This morning at work I experienced technical difficulties with the projector.  It was the last day of class, centered around the movie “Lilo and Stitch,” and the projector had always worked fine before.  After several minutes of unsuccessful troubleshooting, and with class about to begin, I felt reaction rising up inside of me.  I was frustrated and about to freak out.

The reaction I experienced was brief and subsided as I made the decision to have an enjoyable last day, and ask for assistance. Yet, however brief, the pull of reaction was strong, and it was to an inanimate object in a low-pressure situation.  How strongly can egoic reaction pull a person in when the unfavorable situation is caused by another person?  When other people act in a way that causes the voice in our heads to start condemning, we experience the beginnings of a reaction caused by the ego.  Some people manage to live mainly through egoic reaction, and over time it deadens all of life, leaving the person unable to enjoy any situation and experience their true nature.

I love this video because it is so clear, and beautifully manages to snap me out of the voice in my head.  The truth to which Eckhart Tolle speaks here, can have the power to completely change any life that has been taken over by reaction.

consciousness, spirituality

What Is The Pain Body?

For the last two weeks I have been driving my Mom’s car, and what a blessing it has been!  I had totally forgotten when I had to give it back, and was just reminded that tomorrow I would be without a car once more.  Although not having a car was normal for me, hearing I wasn’t going to have one anymore provoked some negative feelings.  I felt disappointment and then it slowly dissipated.

What would have happened if I hadn’t let go of those negative emotions and held onto them?  My mind would have started thinking negative thoughts.  The voice in my head would have been talking about all of the reasons it was anxious about not having a car, describing exactly what would be more difficult, and why this was indeed an upsetting situation to be in.  Those thoughts in turn would have given rise to even more negative emotion than I had felt at first.  When emotional pain turns into thinking, the voice in the head is acting on the assumption that being upset will somehow help it get what it wants.

Eventually that pain subsides, and the mind starts thinking about other things and moves on.  What happens to the pain that subsides but is not let go of?  It is still within, and when an emotion akin to itself is provoked at some other time, it takes that opportunity to arise once more and add to the new emotional pain being experienced.  The new negative energy feeds the old negative energy lying dormant within.  And when that past pain is woken up, it takes the opportunity to feed negative thinking, which will make the negative emotions grow.

Eckhart Tolle describes the negative energy field that dwells within us as the “pain body.”  Deeply negative people are often controlled by the pain body.  That is the deep negativity; the heavy pain body.  It is not who that person is.  Awakening to the pain body is freedom.  The cycles of the pain body no longer have to operate.  You don’t have to feel bad every 3 weeks, or have a fight once a month with your partner.  When it wakes up and you know how it operates, it ceases to control your life.  Instead you have the opportunity to observe the pain body, be with the pain without reacting, and dissolve the past pain whenever you choose to express and let go of a negative emotion.

Consequently, when you awaken to your own pain body, it is easy to awaken to the pain body in others.  For me this has helped me to not take negative comments and actions from others as personally.  When I see it is just the pain body, I am able to see through the person’s pain to their true self. Have there been situations in your life where you can see now that a person had been taken over by their pain body?