Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Meditation for 12/31/2013

Colleton River Plantation; Bluffton SC

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.”  -  Neal Gaiman

     New Year’s Eve.  We are all set to celebrate another rotation of the Earth around the Sun.  Way back when, someone decided that the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere determined the beginning of a “year” – and this was 2,058 years ago - long before they even realized that the Earth circles the Sun, let alone that the Earth is round.  The day was actually chosen in order to deify Julius Caesar 4 years after he was killed. But the calculations of a year were not precise, so the shortest day has drifted a bit earlier – December 21st this year.  Obviously unaware that the choosing of January 1st as the hypothetical first day of the year was originally intended to make Caesar a God, the Roman Catholic Church kept the date through several calendar revisions, although they re-set the year count to approximate the year they thought Jesus was born. 

     And so on this day that history has made so much of men being Gods or Gods being men, it begs the question, who or what has been our God this last trip around the Sun?  And who or what God’s will we serve this coming trip around the Sun – the hypothetical unit of time we will call 2014?  What is a God anyway, and who cares if I have one or not?

     For me, God is whatever is driving my thoughts and actions at this particular moment.  Is my day today going to be mostly taken up with the details of obtaining and consuming alcohol?  If so, today alcohol is my God.  Are my thoughts and actions today going to be shaped by anger at someone who I think slighted me yesterday?  Then today, I am choosing to make my “enemy” my God.  Today, am I going to be stressing about how I am going to acquire the money to pay this month’s mortgage?  Then today, the house I live in is my God.  Am I going to worry about an errant child, an unreliable love interest, a mechanical problem with my vehicle, issues with my work, a favorite sports team, a favorite television drama, the national political climate, the international political climate – whatever it is that I allow to drive my thoughts and my actions today is what I am serving today as my God.  Through this lens, I can look back at my life and see it has been a pretty shallow existence indeed.

     But again today, I have a choice.  Am I going to try to attune myself to that small still voice within me that seeks to guide me on this journey?  Am I going to choose to see that at their core my fellows come from the same source that I did and treat them accordingly?  Am I going to realize today that this cold blue rock that we are floating around the Sun on is the only home we have, and treat it accordingly?

     Perhaps today I can stop and realize that planning out my actions for this next trip around the sun isn't going to work out any better than all the plans I have made before.  Maybe I can realize that the only time I can ever do, say or be anything is right now – this moment.  Maybe I can realize that what I am doing right now is most likely what I am going to spend this next year doing.  Maybe today I can just be right where I am, fully available for the God of my understanding to work with and through me to accomplish whatever it is I am supposed to be doing right now.  And maybe I can realize that my life and my legacy are being defined right here and right now – by what God I am serving this moment.

Today, may I be present.

Happy New Year all!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Meditation for 12/30

Colleton River Plantation; Bluffton SC

“I refuse to allow another’s negativity to dissuade me from doing the next right thing.”  -  Anon

 “People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.  Love them anyway.”  -  Mother Teresa 

     We find ourselves in situations where we are forced to deal with other people’s negativity.  They have had some event – their “latest crisis” going on and they want to draw us into their chaos.  If they are successful in getting to take a position on their “issue” (regardless of whether we sympathize with or oppose their outlook) we fall into the trap of validating their nonsense.  But when we ourselves are in spiritually fit condition, we can see clearly when others are being motivated by love or when they are reacting to their own sub-conscious fears.  But regardless of how spiritually fit we keep ourselves, we still can feel the pull of our own ego when the curtain lifts on the drama.  Sometimes we even become the target of other’s frustration and become “collateral damage” as they justify short-changing their relationship and commitments with us on the basis of some perceived loss they are facing. 

     These seem like “no-win” situations.  If we do not buy into the drama it is as if we had attacked them – we are not “taking them seriously.”  In essence we are attacking them personally because they are convinced that their drama (circumstance, political convictions, religious fervor, latest crisis, etc.) is who they are.  But alternately, if we buy into their drama and either sympathize or reason with them, we become as sick as they are.  In fact sometimes we end up in situations where we feel like an alien being forced to play some idiotic role in some sort of nut-house theater – we are in the midst of a whole group of people acting out roles based upon their own insane anxieties.  And if the fear driven negativity of others is further fueled by booze or dope – well, there is absolutely nothing ANYONE could say or do that would bring ANY sanity to the situation.

     The only graceful way out of a “no-win” situation is to fully surrender to “what is” and just keep on “doing the next right thing.”  Learning that negativity dissolves in the face of non-resistance and love is difficult because it is not our default mode.  Our fears try to convince us that if we do not assert ourselves we are somehow going to be “run over.”  So, best to just keep it simple.  We surrender to “what is,” pray for intuitive guidance, refuse to participate, make sure our side of the street is clean, express that we love them no matter what and exit the situation.  We soon look back and realize that the “no-win” situation we were in is irrelevant – we have been lifted above the battlefield and can now move on to somewhere we can make a positive difference.  And we find that if we are doing the right things God always has our back – whether we realize it at the time or not.

Today, may I know dignity. 

Have a great Monday all


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Capture America - The journey explained. Article for 12/29/2013

Dr. Les Neville

     On February 13th 2012, one of my dear friend’s jeep (Dr. R. Lester “Les” Neville, age 47) was struck head on by a vehicle on his way home from work.  He was life-flighted into MUSC’s Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit. He had numerous broken bones, severe brain swelling and was in a coma.  Pneumonia set in and at one point we were planning his funeral.  During my nightly visits to the ICU, I connected with Dr.  Robert “Rusty” Turner, who was a neurology Dr. at MUSC.  He recommended I read a couple of books on a new treatment technique for brain malfunctions that he was researching.  Meanwhile, Les came out of his coma, but suffered severe short term memory loss and as a result was moved to a nursing home.  I returned and spoke with Rusty at great length, and being convinced I was willing to start a fund-raising effort immediately.  Well, it has taken the last year and a half for the pieces to fall into place, but I am embarking on this venture now.

     Dr. Turner is opening the first clinic and research facility (Network Neurology) of its type in Charleston later this month.  Few patients have enough cash to pay for treatments; most of us rely on insurance of some sort.  In order for this treatment to be accepted by insurance companies there must be full clinical studies done by an unbiased institution that is above reproach.  With MUSC’s reputation as one of the top neurology institutions in the world, case studies designed and executed by their research facility will be of the quality that will show insurance companies the tremendous savings this represents.  In most cases full treatment costs less than the cost of a year’s worth of medications for a patient – about $6,000 per year on average.  (Roughly 2.5 Billion is spent on anti-seizure medications for epilepsy alone each year in the United States.)  And while there has NEVER been a cure for epilepsy, anecdotal data so far shows a cure rate of better than 75% in the epilepsy arena alone.  Amazingly, the powerful drugs anti-seizure often become toxic as the brain heals under this treatment regimen (hence, no support or research monies from big pharma – we are on our own on this one.)  So funds are needed to push the clinical trials through and help support and expand the research clinic here in Charleston. 

     Thus, I am committing the next three years to raise both awareness and funds for this exciting development.  I am circling the perimeter of the United States not once – but twice.  The first time I am doing it over the span of two years, capturing the essence of America in articles and photographs.  As of this writing, I have been on road for six weeks and have most of the bugs of life on the road worked out, and some 500 folks are following the blogs already.  The second trip will be by bicycle, and if we can build the audience to 150,000 who are willing to contribute just $10 per month, we can raise the $ 18 million needed.  Those of you who read the Moultrie News have seen many of my photographs and articles – and I hope you will join me on this journey as I share many more.  To read the daily meditations and the two weekly articles, simply log on to www.CaptureAmerica.blogspot.com and enter your email address where indicated.  To follow the journey daily, just log on to www.CaptureAmericaJournal.blogspot.com.  We stand at the dawn of a new age in medical treatment for illnesses of the brain.  Les and millions of others with neurological issues finally have some hope (Les will be one of the clinic’s first patients.)  Join me – together we can make a difference as here and now in the beginning of this century we can gain the traction to make the third millennium the “millennium of the mind.”

David Emch is a Mount Pleasant writer and photographer.  As he travels around the country, The Moultrie News will be carrying a weekly article written by him under the headliner “People Making a Difference.”  You can view his photographs, read his articles and contribute to this effort at www.CaptueAmerica.blogspot.com or contact him at CaptureAmerica1@gmail.com

 Note - this article will run on New Year's Day as a sister article to the one I posted yesterday on Rusty.  The editor (Sully Witte) is going to write an article to preface it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

"Meteorologist of the Mind" - Article for Saturday, 12/28/2013

(This article is set to run in the Mount Pleasant SC newspaper on 1/1/14)

Dr. "Rusty" Turner

People Making a Difference

 “Meteorologist of the Mind”

Dr. Robert "Rusty" Turner

By David Emch

     Disorders of the brain have plagued mankind since the beginning, with one of the most prevalent being epilepsy.  In 500 BC, the era of Pythagoras, Alcmaeon of Croton first theorized that the brain was the center of intelligence and the senses.  The first known book written on the topic was by Hippocrates in 400 BC in which he refuted that epilepsy was a divine curse and advanced the idea that it was a disease with natural causes.  However, it wasn’t until 2500 years later in the early 1900’s that we realized the workings of the brain were electrical in nature, and not until 1929 that Hans Berger showed that brain wave activity could be recorded and mapped.

     Since that time, epilepsy treatments have primarily used powerful anti-seizure drugs and sometimes invasive surgery in a mostly vain attempt to repress seizures. At their best, these approaches never cured epilepsy, they simply serve as a sort of symptom management.  Amazingly, up until just twenty years ago there were laws on the books – right here in the USA - that prevented those with epilepsy from marrying, and even more incredibly forced sterilization was legal in numerous states clear up to 1990.  But we stand at the dawn of a new era in our understanding of the brain and its various glitches that bedevil us.

     Modern technology allows very specific non-invasive (no needles or cutting) mapping of the electromagnetic activity and networking among all parts of the brain.  From this data patterns are emerging that clearly show the difference between normal and abnormal brain activity, as well as demonstrating the importance of understanding the connections throughout the brain and how they relate to healthy and unhealthy function.  Researchers from all over the world are using this data to develop techniques to more effectively treat brain malfunction without resorting to invasive surgery or powerful drugs and incurring the consequences of the numerous side effects they bring.  And one of the pioneers at the fore-front of this effort is our own Dr. Robert “Rusty” Turner, MD, MSCR.

     Dr. Turner has worked with MUSC for 16 years, becoming a Tenured Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Pediatrics, and also serving as director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Program and as medical director of Clinical Neurophysiological Services.  During this time, he has collaborated with other colleagues on the cutting edge of diagnosis and treatment throughout the United States, Europe, China, South Africa, and Mexico. These past six months, he took a sabbatical from MUSC to visit these other researchers, and is currently in the process of opening a comprehensive, integrative clinic and research facility here in Charleston.  You don’t have to spend much time with Rusty to realize that he is genuinely a humble man, but just beneath the kind and gentle demeanor lies a burning passion to be of service to his fellow human beings.

     “Through digital analysis techniques of electroencephalography (EEG and QEEG brain wave sensing systems) we have found that certain brain networks can get locked into abnormal patterns of electro-magnetic activity and basically hi-jack other cells,  ultimately causing an electrical brain-storm of sorts that results in a seizure” says Rusty.  “However, techniques have developed over the past few decades that can help restore healthy balance between these neural networks.  In essence, we are training the brain to restore healthy functioning, and then to continue to function properly. 

     "Increasingly, scientific, peer-reviewed journals, clinical research, and anecdotal data are showing either a complete elimination or dramatic improvement in symptoms in over 75% of patients with a wide variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders.  Peer-reviewed literature is confirming that as the brain heals, the need for medications is often eliminated or greatly reduced.  However, unlike physical training, this training of the brain may become long-lasting and permanent – once it is done, the positive benefits remain without further direct training.  Imagine the difference this will make - just in the United States where over 2 million of our fellows suffer from this previously incurable disease. It is currently estimated that over 65 million people in the world experience seizures and epilepsy, and over a third suffer from seizures which are uncontrolled by medication, diet, or surgery.”

     Epilepsy is but the beach-head of this exciting breakthrough. Non-invasive neuro-therapies are showing great promise in other neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury, ADD/ADHD and stroke recovery as well.  Says Rusty: “The goal of our neurology practice is to serve patients with nervous system disorders, as well as their families, with a growing model that acknowledges physiological, psychological, and spiritual dimensions.  There are three prongs to this effort.  First, the clinical work that deals directly with the patient and their family focusing on both health and relational restoration.  Second, the educational prong that mentors medical students and provides training to physicians and other allied health students and professionals.  The third prong is research, which through clinical studies and collaboration with other researchers throughout the world will serve to improve these techniques.”

     There are fewer than 10 BCIA-certified (Board Certification International Alliance) practitioners in South Carolina who provide training with neuro-feedback and biofeedback. Dr. Turner and his growing team will be the only BCIA-certified practice offering these techniques in the Low Country, and word is traveling quickly through the grapevine. The clinic, Network Neurology, isn’t slated to open until late January, but the pleas from desperate families pour in daily. (Practice updates will soon be posted at www.NetworkNeurology.com.)

     How far will these techniques and this research go to alleviate human suffering on this planet?  Well, this reporter is so convinced of its potential that I am dedicating the next three years of my life to raising funds to assist the effort.

     David Emch is a Mount Pleasant photographer and author who is currently beginning a three year journey around the perimeter of the United States, writing articles and performing speaking engagements in order raise awareness and funds to drive this cure for epilepsy.  The Moultrie News will be featuring an article by Mr. Emch each week.  You can follow his journey and contribute to this effort at CaptureAmerica.blogspot.com and www.CaptureAmericaJournal.blogspot.com.

Meditation for 12/27/13

Shrimp boat with Savannah GA in the background

“Betrayal is a reflection of another’s sickness, not an indicator of my own value.”  - Anon

“It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”  - William Blake

     Betrayal, or a deliberate breaking of a trust, is a difficult thing to deal with.  Most dangerous about it is the tendency for us to fall into a victim mentality – a horridly poisonous frame of mind.  If we slip into this mentality we make ourselves a victim over and over, obsessed with resentment and lusting for revenge.  We will justify many harmful attitudes and actions because of this self-proclaimed status of victimhood.  However, most times when we feel betrayed we have made selfish decisions that put us in a compromised position.  We thirsted for a get rich quick scheme and got taken.  We married for money or appearance knowing that the individual was vain and then were offended when they acted vainly.  We were too dependent upon someone and they suddenly died or moved away.  What part did we play in the drama? 

     If we learn nothing from the situation then not only was it all for naught we will probably put ourselves back in the same position again.  How can we diffuse the anger?  We have a role in everything in our lives – what should we have done different?  What specifically were the actions that we felt betrayed by?  Do we need to make changes to avoid a repeat performance?  Do we want to make amends for our part in it so that we can put it behind us?  Can we realize that others are doing the best they can with what they have, and feel compassion that they do not have the tools available to live life without being driven by their own fears?  We are much better off accepting responsibility than placing blame – it is not about them, it is about us.  We must forgive – and there is always a way.  Then we need closure and to move on.   We have the choice to use these events in life to become bitter or better; they are some of the best opportunities for us to grow and set a good example of proper behavior.   Life is short – choose wisely.

Today, may I let go of negativity.  D.Emch

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Meditation for 12/26/13

Daufuskie Island; SC

“ . .Be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that (will) diminish our usefulness to others.”  -  William Wilson

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”  -  John Lennin

     Another Christmas is past, and suddenly we find that yet another year is almost behind us.  For many of us, this is a time of reflection and planning.  We look back at the previous year with its trials and successes.  Of course we want to learn the lessons of the past and carry the knowledge forward with us, but it is easy to beat ourselves up and fall into a sick pattern of thinking.  It is also the time we start looking to the New Year – making course adjustments and plans for the 365 days that will be called 2014.  Here again we can torture ourselves – allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed by obsessing about the obstacles we will have to work through and the challenges we don’t feel we are fit to face. 

     When we look back to learn the lessons of the past, we need not flagellate ourselves for not performing as hind-sight so clearly shows we should have.  Alternately, it is just as harmful to engage in prideful thinking for the things that went the way we wanted them to.  If the foundation of our reflection is a basis of gratitude it goes much better.   We can be grateful for the year we had and that we still have another chance today to connect with God as we understand it to be and start following the path laid out for us.  And if we have someone we trust whom we can discuss the trials we faced we can get some detached perspective. 

      Alternately, when planning it is easy to err to in many different directions.  Making grandiose resolutions will serve nothing but to put us in a position of rigid thinking.  It often becomes a no-win situation.  If we fail at the resolutions we mercilessly beat ourselves up.  And if we succeed at the resolutions we cook up even greater plans, falling into the trap of being addicted to “more” of whatever makes us feel we are not inadequate.  Again, asking God to participate in our planning and running them by a wise and trusted other pays dividends.

     Maybe this year we can do something different.  Maybe we can pray that the spirit gives us a general road-map of where we should be heading and then ask for the direction to be able to follow the path and the strength to persevere.  And maybe we can think a bit about those we know who did not have any family around for the holidays, or those who are facing medical or financial traumas.  Visiting or having someone over for a meal who is in these circumstances is sure to give us a bit of the gratitude we need to be able to engage in realistic reflection and planning.  And who knows – perhaps the result of our efforts in being a friend to those who we reach out to will end up being our biggest accomplishment of the year – whether we ever end up realizing it or not. 

Have a great Thursday


Meditation for 12/25/2103

Sunset 12/24/2013, Sunrise 12/25/2013 on Daufuskie Island; SC

Merry Christmas All!!
From Daufuskie Island; SC

     I set about this morning to get a photograph of sunrise to share with the meditation.  When I left at 5 am to trek across dirt roads to the other side of the island, I intended to be back and have the meditation posted by 8 am.  Well, the golf cart I was using had other ideas as it went dead about four miles away.  However, I was able to plug in to an outlet at a cabin along the way and get enough charge to return.  Meanwhile, I was able to shoot a few more photographs.  The above photographs are from Daufuskie Island, the first was the sunset last night from Bloody Point on the west end of the island, and the sunrise is from the east end. 

     I appreciate all of you that have made the transition to the blog.  For those of you unsure of what I am doing, I am setting about on a three year journey around the perimeter of the United States.  It is a journey of faith that I have been nudged toward for the last year and a half.  I began a shake-down trip on November 18th, and have been living on the road since.  Many of those “God moments” have occurred already, and I know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.  If you want to follow the daily occurrences of the journey itself, and enjoy 4 or 5 photos from each day rather than the single one that I post here, please click over to the journal at www.CaptureAmericaJournal.blogspot.com  .

     I am posting articles on the weekends – this weekend’s articles will be running in the Mount Pleasant SC newspaper, which is my home base.  The articles will explain in detail what it is that I am doing, but to summarize I am looking to raise funds to push a medical breakthrough through clinical trials that will be a cure for epilepsy as well as provide relief for many other mental conditions, including ADD, ADHD, Bi-Polar, stroke and traumatic brain injury. 

          For today, just know that on this Christmas Day I am very grateful to those of you who have so loyally followed the meditations for the last five years.  I am confident that by placing myself in the vulnerable position of living on the road both the insights I gain and the photographs I take will be of an even better quality than you have come to expect so far.  But I cannot do this alone – I need your help.  You will notice a donate link on this page – here is what I would like to propose to those of you who can contribute to this effort.

     When you click on the donate link, and option to make your donation “recurring” will appear.  Here is what I will do for those of you who are able and willing to contribute to this effort.

$ 10 per month for the first year:

      1)        You will receive a canvas print of your favorite photograph from all the shots I take.  The print will be your choice of 8 by 10 inches, 11 by 14 inches, or 12 by 18 inches.  Print is archive quality in acrylic ink, sealed and hand-signed.
      2)        You will receive your favorite meditation of the year, along with the corresponding photograph printed on archive quality rice paper and hand signed by me.

$ 20 per month for the first year:

      1)        You will receive a hand signed copy of the meditation book that is the best of the first five years of the meditations I have written.  The book contains 366 daily meditations and will be printed and distributed 12/2014

      2)        You will receive your favorite photograph from the journey on canvas in your choice of 8 x 10 inches, 11 x 14 inches or 12 x 18 inches.  Print is archive quality in acrylic ink, sealed and hand signed.

$ 50 per month for the first year:

1)        You will receive a framed 24 inch by 36 inch copy of your favorite photograph from the first year of the journey.  Print is archive quality printed on canvas with acrylic ink and sealed, frame is a black gloss.

2)         You will receive a hand-signed and numbered first edition meditation book, compiled from the best of the first five year’s meditations, due to be published in December of 2014.

$ 100 per month for the first year:

1     1)     You will receive a 48 inch by 72 inch framed mural of your favorite photograph from the first year of the journey.  Print is archive quality, printed on canvas with acrylic ink, hand signed and sealed with your choice of a gloss black, driftwood or antiqued gold frame.  Personal delivery and hung for those within 20 miles of Charleston SC; for those outside that area the framed mural will be shipped to your door.

      2)     You will receive a hand signed and numbered first edition print of the daily meditation book that is compiled from the best of the last five year’s meditations and due to be published December of 2014.

     The bulk of the money will be going to start the foundation, which is named the “More for Less Foundation” and to help the research clinic in Charleston get off the ground.  Details on this will be in the articles that are coming this weekend.  Donations will become tax-deductible this next year when the foundation is completed.  I am relying on contributions to defray expenses along the way as well – but my expenses are very low as I am camping or staying with folks as I go.

     I will be posting articles rather than meditations on Saturdays and Sundays.  On Saturdays, the articles will be about “People Making a Difference” – written about folks that I meet along the way that are walking their own spiritual path.  These articles are also being printed in the Moultrie News in Mount Pleasant SC.  The Sunday articles will be a bit of a mixed bag – interesting people, places and things as the spirit may move me to write.  And of course the other five days a week you will be receiving the meditations as I write them.

     I look forward to having you along on the trip with me – and thank you for your support thus far.  I have some ideas I would like to implement along the way – if I can get a decent HD video camera that will also record decent audio, I will start posting 4 or 5 minute videos of sunrises, sunsets and interesting places I encounter along the way. 

     Anyway, this is not the usual meditation, but thank you for bearing with me.  You all are very dear to me, and I will do my best to deliver to you the true essence of the things I encounter along the way.

My warmest regards and wishes for a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Meditation for 12/24/2013

What-cha-ma-callit bird

“Effective confrontation is an art.”  - Kendall Stewart

“The point of confrontation is to avoid conflict and crisis.”

     When the time comes that we must confront others, we have to remember the purpose of confrontation to start with.  The purpose is a solution.   If we cannot find a way to approach the situation from a standpoint of compassion and love, we will most likely get conflict instead of positive results.  We cannot change other people; they must be motivated to change themselves. So, the chances of success are greatly enhanced if the individual can feel that they solved the problem or were a big part of the solution.  Hence, preparation on our part is essential. 

     We need to isolate the issue and get our ego out of it.  Our fears, if unaddressed, will sabotage us.  The time and place must be chosen carefully to avoid the appearance of an “ambush.”  Being direct to the point, stating the issue clearly, focusing on behavior and avoiding personal attack are crucial.  They need to be allowed to speak on the issue, because if they did not feel they had good reasons for the behavior they would not engage in it.  Then we ask for suggestions, knowing that change will only come if they are involved in a solution.  If they do not have any suggestions, we need to have some ready.  A “peace offering,” or something we are willing to do in return so there is a feeling of compromise can go a long way.  Then, we keep our promises and let the results go. As the old proverb states; “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I might remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”

Today, may I remember to check my motives.   D.Emch

 Have a great Tuesday  all

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Meditation for 12/23/13

Colleton River Plantation; Bluffton SC

“If you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”  - Mother Teresa

“Love is not blind.  It simply enables one to see things that others cannot see.”  - Unknown

    One of the greatest gifts we can give to those closest to us – and one of the hardest gifts to give them – is space to “be.”  We are conditioned to believe that if we love someone we should spend or risk our life rescuing them from peril.  But it is only through making decisions, acting on them and then fully experiencing the consequences (“good” or “bad”) that any of us grow.  When we feel we have a “personal stake” in the “success” or “failure” of those close to us, our selfishness will lead us into interfering in the path that is laid out for them.  We may have our identity wrapped up in what we think other people think or might think of us, worried that if someone close to us makes mistakes it will reflect poorly upon us.  We may be afraid to let them stretch their wings because we are afraid of losing them.  We may fear that they have betrayed us and if it were found out others would mock us.  In this manner our own fears lead to all types of enabling, stifling, rescuing and unreasonable demands that cause much harm.

     When we do the work to identify, sort out and take the power out of our own fears, we find out that it is ok for ourselves to just “be.”  By natural extension, we begin to see that it is ok for those close to us to “be” also.  We realize that the only way they will learn is by suffering the consequences of their actions, and if we spare them consequences in minor things, they will escalate into larger things and suffer a bigger consequence down the road when we cannot “rescue” them.  We begin to see that we cannot change anyone – even changing ourselves is a difficult prospect that requires facing our own pain.  We develop compassion for the struggles that others are not even aware that they have.  We learn to forgive, because we realize that we all punish ourselves in ways and at deeper levels than anyone else possibly could.  This does not mean that we quit being of service to others – in fact we free up the energy and gain the wisdom to be of service in ways that actually make a difference.  We start helping with those things that others cannot do for themselves rather than enabling them by assuming responsibilities that they themselves must face if they are to mature.  Becoming willing to allow those close to us the space to “be” and being prudently, rather than bluntly honest with them are signs that we are starting to unconditionally love ourselves – and by extension becoming able to unconditionally love those around us.

Today, may I learn to love.  D.Emch

Have  a great Monday all!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Meditation for 12.20.13

Colleton River Plantation; Bluffton SC

“Home is where the heart is.”  - Pliny the elder 

“When you finally go back to your old home, you find that it isn’t the old home you miss, but your childhood.”  -  Sam Ewing

     A house is defined as “A building for human habitation.”  But a home is defined as “a dwelling place together with the family or social unit that occupies it.”  So, what we consider our “home” to be is actually a function of our concept of what space we occupy and who we relate to as our “social unit.”  We humans tend to nest – and we create pretty elaborate nests by any standard in the animal kingdom.  We also develop “comfort zones” outside the nest in work and worship places.  Some develop a comfort level out in the woods, others out in a boat.  But for the most part, we don’t feel comfortable for long if we are not spending a lot of time in the middle of our collection of stuff.  Buffalo are at home on the range.  Fish are at home in the seven seas.  Must we be leashed to the familiar in order to be fully comfortable in our own skin?  I remember my grandfather saying that the greatest gift that one can give a child is the sense that they belong on this earth.  But somewhere in puberty we find we don’t fit anywhere anymore.  So how do we re-learn to feel at home regardless of location or present company?  Or is this even possible?

     When we have cleared our intuitive channel with the spirit we receive clear guidance as to the path we are meant to follow.  For most of us it takes much time and practice before we develop to this point spiritually.  It takes a lot more time to develop trust in the voice.  But there comes the day that we have had enough experience following the path that we know without a doubt when we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing.  With that knowing comes empathy and compassion for all of our fellow human beings.  And when we give love - we get love, no matter where we are.  And thus we come to realize that the size of our home is directly proportionate to the amount of spiritual growth we have experienced and the amount of love we have given. Want a bigger home without taking on a mortgage?  Listen, love and learn – develop a bigger heart.  It’s better than being alone in a crowd, and it sure beats isolating ourselves in a prison cell of our own making.

Today, may I growD.Emch

Have a great Friday all. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Meditation for 12.19.13

Colleton River Plantation; Bluffton SC

“Gratitude is the surest bridge from disturbance to acceptance.”  John Cato

“Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”   Eckhart Tolle

     In the words of Forest Gump, “stuff happens.”  Life throws us curve-balls, and they usually seem to come in bunches.  When we mature a bit spiritually, we learn to pause when we are disturbed.  But what do we do with that pause?  How do we find the way to accept that what is …..well, is.  How do we find our way back to being fully engaged in the present moment when we cannot seem to digest the event that has just happened, let alone accept it?

     Yes, time heals all wounds and yes grieving is a process.  But while we are waiting for this mysterious “cure” to our feelings time continues to march by; the hours, days and opportunities that would have been ours if we had been in spiritual equilibrium trickle through our fingers.  This is where we must have a way to span the chasm between being mentally stuck by identifying with our circumstances rather than being intuitively connected to the spirit.  This is where we must learn to develop and maintain reliable pathways into an “attitude of gratitude.”

     Gratitude is not to be mistaken for thankfulness.  Thankfulness always has something attached – we are thankful for a car, food, a roof over our head, a kindness done or any other object or event.  Gratitude is a state of being that brings us a deep appreciation for life itself.  Gratitude is a feeling of one-ness with our fellows and our surroundings, a feeling of connectedness and comfort in our own skin.  Gratitude is understanding and appreciating what grace is – both grace received and grace given. So, how in the world do we get from a disturbance to here?

      In the serenity prayer, we ask for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change.  We must first find this place of peace if we are to escape the self-centeredness of ego.  Making a list of things we are thankful for and a list of challenges we are thankful we are not facing is helpful.  If we have not learned to quit thinking (to meditate) we can still find some solace in a quiet place with mindful prayer.  We can find someone else who needs help and immerse ourselves into being of service.  We can force ourselves to remember that as long as we are following the path we will be ok no matter what.  And when we again find this place of quiet joy, acceptance of “what is” seems to come almost naturally.  Otherwise, we will find ourselves in the twilight of our life and realize that we have never really lived at all.

Today, may I know peace.  D.Emch 

All have a great Thursday

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Meditation for 12/18/13

Colleton River Plantation; Beaufort SC

"Life happens in the space between your thoughts.”    - Richard Gere

“Learn to be silent.  Let your mind listen and absorb.”  - Pythagoras

   “Living for the moment” is sometimes confused with the notion of “living in the moment.”   If one “lives for the moment” it tends to mean to forget about the consequences for current behavior.   Satisfying urges now is a common theme in advertising.  The message seems to be that whether it is installment payments, a hang-over or a damaged friendship it is forgivable because we were “living life to its fullest.”  So what does “living in the moment” refer to?

     Nothing can happen at any time but “now” – the past is gone forever and the future never arrives.  It is always “now.”  You can take this further and say that if you cannot find contentment “now” you will never be able to find it – it will always be “now.”  This moment we choose what negativity and what value from the past we carry into the future.   Whatever we are carrying from the past distracts us to from the reality of what “is” this moment.  On the other side of the equation, to the extent that we think our “salvation” or “happiness” lies at some point in the future we rob ourselves of the life that might have been, just as surely as any anxiety about future events dulls our effectiveness this moment.
     “Living in the now,” or being mindful, refers to being fully immersed in our surroundings.  This may be found for intervals by playing music, writing poetry, gardening, exercising, building models or other things. When not able to engage in these activities, there are some techniques that can be useful to extend the periods of time that we know this peace.  We can be aware of the space around us that allows things to “be” – nothing can exist without the space that allows it to exist.  This helps us to “see” (be aware of) everything without “looking” (attaching) to anything.  We can “hear” (be aware of) everything without “listening” to (judging) anything.   We can also use our quiet time to learn to create gaps between our thoughts – there are many techniques to do this.  This creates the space for intuitive guidance to reach us.  Try keeping a log-book for two weeks, and writing down the specific things that take you out of the moment.  You will be amazed how much judgments, desires, fears, guilt and shame rule your life.  There are other things that help bring us fully into the moment, but most important is that we start somewhere.  The only moments we truly live are those that the internal dialogue is shut off and we are fully present and aware.  And the only moment we ever really have is this one – right here and right now.

Today, may I be where my feet are.  D. Emch

Have a great Thursday!!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Meditation for 12/17/13

Colleton River Plantation; Bluffton SC
I may not be responsible for my first thought, but I am responsible the next thought and for the action I take.  -  Anon

“The tree of revenge does not bear fruit.”  - Dutch Proverb

     If we acted out on the first thought that comes to mind every time life throws us a curve-ball, most of us would long-since be in prison or dead.  When someone steals our assets or our time, gossips, breaks a confidence or otherwise compromises us love and tolerance just do not seem to be our default mode.  Counter-gossip, sabotage, bodily harm or other forms of retaliation quickly follow the initial shock of realizing we have been betrayed.  We can spend the rest of our lifetime nursing a grudge and either developing or obsessing about an opportunity for revenge.

     We can just as quickly develop a defeatist attitude when something takes us by surprise.  “What’s the point?” we say, and proceed to indulge in our own negative behavior, whether that be an addiction to food, booze, pharmaceuticals, sex or just plain withdrawal from society.   Soon we find ourselves bogged down in the muck as we revive old behaviors we have worked hard to put behind us.  As time goes by we reinforce the incident in our mind, giving it ever more power over our life and our actions.  These things are called “resentments” because whenever we pull up the tired old memories we re-live the incident, or “re-sense” it.  Over time it becomes so ingrained in our psyche that it becomes part of our identity.  Over time we heap more on top of it, and before long we are like a cell phone that has a bunch of programs running in the background.  Even if we find some new energy or vitality we are quickly drained of it and end up useless to ourselves or others.

     Just as when we first awaken each day, there is a window of opportunity that we can take advantage of when negative circumstances first arise.  We can choose to take the time to pause and replace our first thought with one that will serve us better.  We can choose the path of acceptance – bringing the serenity prayer to mind often helps.  We can choose to view others as doing the best they can with what they have and feel empathy for those that are so emotionally sick that they feel better about themselves by harming others.  We can reach out for insight from wise others who are detached from the situation.  We can choose to live in love rather than fear, and remember that if we use the occasion as a teaching point God will see to our needs in the long run.  But whatever we do, we must stop the negative thoughts from getting too deeply ingrained or we ourselves become the negativity.  With practice, we will find that there is nothing that life can throw at us that we cannot find acceptance for and bridge ourselves back into gratitude.  It’s a choice we make – one moment and one negative thought at a time.

Today, may I be responsible for myself.  D.Emch