Come in out of the panic

People are shell shocked right now. It takes bravery just to read the paper. The heart is broken page after page by stories of yet another disaster, unspeakable violence, and unbearable loss. As for politics, the mind doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. And finances? We all want to run for the covers. Even the weather stories are scary. The movies all sound loud and ugly. The snarky humor in the comic section is no longer funny. Where can we find a bit of shelter? The crossword puzzle perhaps. Or the food section. Surely the food section. Maybe an article in travel will lift us momentarily to a sweeter place. 

Fear has come alive. It is an unbidden visitor who rode up in on the news, pushed in the door, and pitched a tent in the living room. We know fear is there, but we’re afraid to acknowledge it. Won’t that mean it wins? So we put on our best face and keep going. We pull out every positive strategy we’ve ever heard. We try being grateful for what we have, while praying for what we don’t. We attempt the high watch of surrender while secretly begging for victory. But the monster is still in the living room. Panic is gurgling all around. What do we do?
There is a safe haven. It’s just not where you expect. It isn’t anything or anyone out there. It isn’t in a better leader or a wiser investment. It isn’t in a clever strategy or a more powerful prayer. It’s inside of you. It’s in your hands.
If you’ve read my recent newsletters, you know I fell madly in love with Anam Cara by John O’Donohue. I read it three times, underlined and marked it up beyond all recognition. Anam Cara is now a keystone in my courses. It has  seeped into everything I write. But no matter how many times I read it, I wasn’t sated. I wanted more.
So this week, I began reading another John O’Donohue book, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace. Much as I loved Anam Cara, I really didn’t expect to have the same mad reaction to Beauty. Given the topic, I thought it would be lovely, and certainly lifting, but I never expected it to invade my heart, grab my bones, and take me for a velvet ride. But I should have known. No one writes about the soul like John O’Donohue. No one. And, bless him, he also has given us the antidote to panic. Listen:
“All the contemporary crises can be reduced to a crisis about the nature of beauty.”
Instinctively we know this is true. The media enshrines the ugly, business despoils the land for profit, and architecture creates spaces that starve our souls. We are surrounded by a multitude of things, but still we are hungry. Hungry for something–anything–that is beautiful.
“When we expect and engage the Beautiful…, the heart becomes rekindled and our lives brighten with unexpected courage. It is courage that restores hope to the heart.”
Beauty begets courage? I would never have connected those dots. Would you? But oh, what courage can do.
“Courage is amazing…it can tap into the heart of fear, taking that frightened energy and turning it toward initative, creativity, action and hope….
Courage is a spark that can become the flame of hope lighting new and exciting pathways in what
seemed to be a dead, dark landscape.”
So, what we need is courage. And the way to courage is to allow the flicker of beauty into our lives. But don’t think that that beauty is something external. Yes, if you want to go to a museum, go. If you want to attend a play, read a poem, or listen to a concert, for heaven’s sake, do. But know this: Beauty, real beauty, is alive in a place you can visit anytime you want. It is alive inside of you.
Don’t say “Oh, but I’m not an artist.” Because you are. John O’Donohue says it as succinctly as it can be said:
“We were created to be creators.”
If you are hungry, weary, lonely, tired, afraid, it’s time to come in out of the panic and create. If fear has camped out in the living room, it’s time to create.  It’s time to awaken that gorgeous vibrant beauty that lives inside of you. It is there in the desires of your heart, the dreams of your life, the itch in your hands. Don’t worry about not knowing how. Just put something in your hands. For a moment, be the wide-eyed kindergartener who once was you and play, just play, in the possibilities.
  • Pick up a pen and write
  • A slab of clay and shape 
  • A brush and paint
  • A pencil and draw
  • A scissors and cut
  • A knife and cook
  • A seed and plant
  • A scarf and dance
  • Create a business plan, an outline, a class
  • Design a pillow, plan a trip, make a meal

The tools you can put in your hands are without end. The things you can imagine are without end. The places you can go in your mind are without end. The beauty you can touch is without end. The well is deep and it is full.

Here’s what will happen.

When you re-activate that part of you that has never been wounded, the part of you that knows who you really are, the battle with fear will come to an end. When you step into your creative self, your soul-self, you awaken something huge: trust in your own capacity to live a beautiful life. You will be free. And that uninvited guest will have no choice but to slink out the door.

“At its deepest heart, creativity is meant to serve and evoke beauty. When this desire and capacity
come alive, new wells spring up in parched ground; difficulty becomes invitation and rather than striving against the grain of our nature, we fall into rhythm with its deepest urgency and passion. The time is now ripe for beauty to surprise and liberate us.”

So perhaps all this chaos in the world is an invitation. Perhaps that black thing in the living room is an invitation. Perhaps the parched landscape is an invitation. An invitation to awaken to who we really are: not consumers, creators. When we accept, we stop being consumed by life and start creating life. The invitation is real. It is open. It is on your desk awaiting a reply. Please put something in your hands and accept.


Want more?

Come, let your writer loose at Plug In for Writers, starting August 30

Find your creative expression at Plug In for Expressive Souls Sept 1

6 tips to feed your soul

Yesterday I was interviewed on the Change Thrivers radio show with Afsaneh Noori. We talked about how deep soul writing can be a loving helpful tool for anyone experiencing change. (In other words, everyone!)

At the end, Afsaneh asked me to share a few tips for listeners. Here they are. I thought they might be helpful for everyone, not just the Change Thriver audience.  Because we all experience change. Change is life. And we all want to and deserve to not just survive change, but find the music of our souls within it.

Six Soul-Feeding Tips

  1. Give yourself the gift of STOP. The one gift we can all give ourselves is the gift of time. It can be just a few minutes, but for those five or ten minutes, get off the go-go train we ride all day and just be still. Deep soul write or meditate or just sit and breathe. Allow. Allow your inner knowing, that wise loving Voice, to speak to you. In the silence, you will find your way.
  2. Pick up a pen. Don’t wait until you’ve finished reading Writing Down Your Soul. Take a breath, set your intention, address the Voice by name and begin. (The seven steps to get into theta are at the front of My Soul Pages, the companion journal to Writing Down Your Soul.) It’s a life-long conversation. You can start it today whether you know all the ins and outs or not. Release any expectations of what it “ought” to be like. Just begin. You’ll find the Voice is a loving, gentle presence and is oh so happy you’ve come to talk. (You can find lots of tools to help you build a deep soul writing practice at my website, including the Thirty-Day Guide to Writing Down Your Souland a 45 minute teaching video on the Seven Steps to Get Into Theta and more)
  3. Ask for guidance. Ask for guidance on the page in your deep soul writing, in your mind, in your prayers, as you’re falling asleep. All day and night long, ask for help. Help will come. It may come in forms you didn’t expect, but it will come.
  4. Pay attention. Everyone has innate spiritual intelligence, we just don’t use it. By starting to become aware of your spiritual intelligence, you strengthen and expand it, just like a muscle used in exercise. How do you exercise your spiritual intelligence? Pay attention to your intuition, your gut feelings, your emotions, synchronicities, books and messages that come your way, invitations, dreams…. There is no end to the ways guidance works with us once we begin to pay attention.
  5. Maximize your natural time in theta. As we awaken from sleep each and every one of us moves through the theta brain wave state—the only state in which we have access to break through thinking and true creativity. So use it. In the morning, lie perfectly still, don’t open your eyes. Just lie there and allow information and ideas to flow to you. Train yourself to lie still for longer and longer periods of time. Any question can be solved just resting in theta.
  6. Go on a media diet. Especially if you are in a fearful state right now or prone to pick up other people’s fear. The media and our political systems are designed to keep us afraid so we’ll turn to them to tell us how to stay safe. Fear is the absolute worst thing for your soul. Your soul is not naturally fearful. It is not afraid of life; it chose life. So help yourself by stepping away from the waves of things to be afraid of coming over the TV and internet and radio. If you can’t limit all TV, at least don’t watch any news before bed. (And keep in mind this is from someone who worked for and loved CNN!)
  7. Eat lots of “soul food.” In place of your media diet, feed your soul with lots of rich spiritual books and practices. Listen to loving uplifting messages. Read mystical poetry. Write down your soul. Pray. Sit in nature. Be still and know that you are loved.

There are undoubtedly more things you can do to feed your soul, but these will get you started.  Please share your favorite “soul foods.”

December Plan Day 12: Thought-worms, be gone!

Have you noticed the paradox of this week of the December Plan? Even though we’re taking tough backward views of all the issues of the last 11 1/2 months, we’re actually doing the richest and most productive work? How can that be? How can the richest week be the ickiest week? All this looking back seems to do is dredge up those old blocks, those old fears that constantly get in the way. Are you sick of it? Are you ready to shout once and for all: That’s it, I’m DONE with you! Get out of here!

I sure am. And I think I know how to do it.

Everyone has these sore spots, blind spots, relentless fears. Whatever you want to call them. Mine is worrying about money. In a therapy session years ago, I tracked the source of this insidious fear back to my sophomore year in high school when my mother said I couldn’t have new shoes. I remember I stared at her across the kitchen table dumbfounded. Whaddya mean I can’t have new shoes? Look at these shoes, Mom. They’re falling apart. I know, she said, I’m sorry, but we can’t afford them.

This was a new blip on my radar screen. I used to get a new coat every spring and every winter whether I wanted one or not. Now, I couldn’t get something I actually needed, a lousy pair of shoes. Until last weekend I assumed that that shoe scene in the kitchen was the moment I became overly conscious of and worried about money, always thinking there is never enough.

But guess what, that wasn’t the moment. Last weekend, Lauralyn Bunn came to my home to teach a small intimate group how to work with the Akashic Records — our soul’s records. In the course of the weekend, she mentioned that we carry “thought forms” that we no longer need, and gave us a prayer to release them. “It’s that easy?” I said, “you just say the prayer and send them on their way?”

What a powerful — and incredibly simple idea. I decided to pounce on my money fears and get that destructive thought form out of my consciousness as fast as I could.

For several days after Lauralyn left I did some deep soul writing about my money fears. Whatever I couldn’t work out on the page, my dreams handled for me. Last night, in what I think was the culmination of my money fear dreams, my mother appeared and told me that something had come off the roof of the tall building we were living in. Today, writing about that dream and my long history of fretting about earning enough, I had a big “aha.”

I realized that the shoe scene is not the moment the money fears got inside me. It happened 16 years earlier. In 1948, my mother was pregnant with her 3rd child in 5 years just 3 years after the war. They were living in a tiny apartment on the south side of Chicago, and Daddy was still not making any real money. I realized that the entire time she carried me she was worried, no more like “scared to death,” about how her family was going to survive. Her thoughts felt like: There isn’t enough money, my husband doesn’t make enough money, we don’t have enough money, we’re not OK, what am I going to do? Those thoughts gelled into a parasite, a thought-worm so to speak, and passed through the placenta wall and into my spirit. And now at 61, I am ready to send that thought-worm out the top of my head and off into the universe.

Here’s the prayer: “Father/Mother God, I ask that this thought form be sent on in its spiritual evolution for the highest good and mutual benefit of everyone concerned.”

Simple, isn’t it. I’ve said this prayer three times a day for a week. I think it’s working. I feel lighter. Happier. More hopeful and peaceful. More protected. More safe. Dare I say it, richer.

As I say the prayer, I imagine my mother’s worries as a parasitic worm crawling up my chakras and out the top of my head to be taken by Spirit to be transformed.

Want to try? Do some deep soul writing to identify the parasitic thought-worm that’s been living in your consciousness for years, decades even. Once you can name it, pray it out.

Just think how ready we’ll be to call in a magical 2010 with NO parasitic thought forms blocking the way. This is exciting, isn’t it.

December Plan: Day 3 If I say I want X why does the opposite appear?

Have you noticed that the second you say, “I want,” and your heart beats faster and your chin lifts higher, and a smile bursts onto your face as you think, “Oh my, oh my, oh my, won’t it be divine when all this happens,” suddenly everything that stands in the way pops into your mind chanting, “Oh, yeah? Who do you think you are? What makes you think you deserve all that?” And then, when you go to bed, when you close your eyes, when you slip into the dream world, all those doubts come crawling out of their secret recesses to poison your dreams. Have you noticed that?

It happened to me the very first night. On December 1st I got excited about calling in my magical year and that night dreamt of a house filled with vermin. There were bugs and when the bugs crawled out of the bedroom door, they were eaten by rats, and the rats were chased by giant rabbits. I woke in a sweat. Fear had come calling in a big way, a way I could not ignore, a way I could not mistake. I had to do something about my fears.

As I said my Covenant the next morning, I had an impulse to check the meaning of bugs and rats and rabbits on Dream Moods, a dream interpretation site I particularly like. Would you like to guess? Bugs = fear. Rats = fear. And rabbits? Yes, they can represent love, but in the Animal Medicine Cards…ten guesses, fear. While I was there I looked up boats, too because boats keep creeping into my dreams. Boats? They represent a fear of going deep into your emotions. OK, lord, I get it. There’s a little fear here.

So off to the page I went. You’ve got to help me, I cried. What do I need to know right now about my fears so I can heal them, release them, understand them, befriend them, better still, transmute them? Because as long as I’ve got the bugs and rats of fear crawling around inside my psyche, I’m pretty sure I can’t call in a magical year. I need to perform a little “magic” trick on my fears and I need to do it now.

On the page I learned what to do: a card reading. I have several card sets that I know love and trust but my favorite at the moment is Ask Your Guides by Sonia Choquette.

I prayerfully shuffled and cut three times (once for God, once for me and once for the question), whispering, “What do I need to know right now to transmute my fears?” With a deep deep sigh, I lifted the top three cards.

First card: Despair/Nature Spirits. That card told me what my fears are. “A feeling of desolation and despair has you in its grip…your fears are blowing things out of proportion.” I didn’t like getting that card but I understood it. My old life-long bugaboo about earning enough money had blow up to three times the size of my joys of teaching and sharing Writing Down Your Soul. The Nature Spirits part of the card told me a solution. Go outside, it said. And I did. I went for a long refreshing walk on the Pinellas Trail.

Second card: Epiphany/Higher Self. This card showed me how to shift my resistance. “Be gently led rather than the old way of figuring things out…trust your vibes at all times.” I understood this one perfectly, too. In the past, when I’ve simply followed my guidance, I’ve been safe, protected, and yes financially secure.

Third card: Community/Spiritual Ancestors. This card showed me that I’m not alone. I don’t have to do this alone. I am surrounded and supported by everyone who has passed. I have a big spiritual village in heaven loving me and supporting me to find my spiritual community here on earth.

I felt deep peace after my card reading. I had received exactly the information I asked for and needed. I had received practical simple solutions and a loving pat on my back from my many spiritual guides.

My interpretation of my fears and my card-reading process for transmuting them may not be right for you. But the fear piece is universal. It happens to everyone. Say “I want” and everything that is the opposite immediately shows up.

So, if on Day 1 of your December Plan, you signed up in your heart and your mind and your soul to call in a magical, beautiful, prosperous, holy year, I bet your fears — whatever they are — showed up too, chanting, “Who do you think you are? What makes you think you deserve that? You’re not good enough, smart enough, capable enough… That’ll never happen to you.”

Has fear crept into your thoughts? Your dreams? Do you know what’s between you and your magical year? Well, what are you going to do about that? Where can you go for help? Guidance? Comfort? How are you going to transmute your fears so you are fresh, open, receptive and ready for the delight of your magical new year?