Thursday, February 27, 2014

Today's top story !! Meditation for 02/27/2014

St. Helena Island; SC

“Our age is no more insecure than any other.  Poverty, disease, war, change and death are nothing new.”  -  Alan Watts

“If you don’t change, your life will be like this forever.  Is this good news?”  -  W. Somerset Maugham

     If we are to believe our 24 hour news cycle, you wouldn’t think it is safe to go outside.  We are constantly bombarded with tales of negativity, of the degradation and deprivation mankind is capable of.  Driven by a lust for viewers and ratings, there seems to be no end to the various angles that our fears are played upon.  Then, between news segments, we are again assailed with carefully scripted pieces designed to subconsciously convince us that if we do not have this or do that we are inadequate.  I once met an Australian who referred to the Television as the “glass teat.”  He claimed it was a device for the mentally impoverished to suckle some mental stimulation from. 

     Now we have portable devices that take a different approach.  Convinced that we are missing something our “friends” are up to, every available moment we keep our noses stuffed into a small screen which convinces us that we are engaged in life.   We flip through all of this exaggerated stimuli, from burning house to cute puppy meme to murder to sporting event to disease to . . . to what?  To another illusion that we are going to find the meaning of life through a bunch of pixels spoon fed us moment by moment?  We end up a bunch of desensitized news junkies so blinded that we cannot see the opportunities for meaning in our own life that lie within our grasp.

     Let’s do something different today.  Who is right within our reach that has a struggle we can assist with?  Who do we know that is isolated and could use an encouraging word or phone call?  What interesting or beautiful place lies just around the corner from us that we keep “meaning to visit?”  The only life we can create that “has meaning” is the one that lies in the potential life has provided all about us – flesh and blood interaction and first hand engagement in life.  Regardless of how real it can be made to seem, the rest is an illusion that will steal true meaning from our life one headline at a time.  We are well served to stay attuned to the difference.

Today, may I engage life.

Have a great Thursday !!

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Frazzled? Meditation for 2/24/2014

Beaufort; SC

“Easy does it.” -  American Idiom

“What are you running from and what are you running to?  Relax, and savor life.”  -  Anon

     Being able to maintain internal calm regardless of external circumstances is a virtue we all aspire to.  To one who has not done any spiritual work on themselves it may seem unattainable.   Granted, it is not something that just happens – it takes work to achieve.  But it is not reserved for saints or people who lock themselves away from the world to pursue solitude and meditation.  Developing and maintaining serenity is something that anyone can do if they are willing to put forth the effort – and it does take some work to achieve.

    As with anything, if we have not experienced it we are apt to have many misconceptions.  Being serene does not require being shielded from life or being withdrawn or sluggish.  One can be both composed and energetic at the same time.  It is possible to be both calm and alert at the same time.  We are capable of relaxing and savoring life at the same time we accomplish the things we are supposed to be getting done. 

     There are a number of things that need to be worked on to get to this point.  First, we need to quit biting off more than we can chew – we must stop trying to prove we are adequate by taking on more projects and responsibilities than we can do well.  We must start being present where we are rather than always striving to get to the next place we think we need to be.  We need to bring our internal and external demeanor into synch – in other words we need to say what we mean, mean what we say, do what we promise and be true to ourselves.  We must mercilessly root out our anxieties and face them for what they are – figments of our imagination.  We need to be honest with ourselves and with others so that we are not burning energy foolishly trying to remember what we told to who or which mask we are supposed to be wearing today.  We need to allow others to be as they are – to give them the benefit of the doubt, to know that they are doing the best they can with what they have, and to forgive the whenever we can.

    There are other things we need to attend to if we would like to live in peace, and they will come clear as we work to resolve the things that bring us internal conflict.  It is a path worth the effort, and one that we can start or restart any time we choose.

Today, may I know peace.

To contact me, Click Here.  If you would like to contribute a few dollars to help me with the journey or to help get the foundation started, just Click Here.  But whatever you do, have a 

Happy Wednesday !!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Freedom !! Meditation for 02/25/2014

Beaufort SC

  ♪♫  “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose..”  - Janis Joplin

“Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”  ― Brene’ Brown

     Is not the fear of vulnerability the major obstacle to surrendering the masks we wear and being fully genuine and transparent?  We fear that if we do not have the “right answers” others will scoff and exclude us.  We fear that if we do not snatch what is there for the taking we will be in want.  We deny our weaknesses and conceal our attributes on grounds we fear them being exploited.  We fear that if we follow our heart and do that which we are best suited for we will lose out on the passing fad – if the band-wagon everyone is jumping on leaves town we will be left all alone.  We fear that if we are generous we will not be able to meet our own needs but if we don’t make displays of generosity we will be considered miserly.  We fear change because we don’t know if we will be deemed adequate at the same time we complain about the way things are.  We piously trumpet our victories – of course subtly with displays of fake modesty while we go to painstakingly hide our short-comings with displays of false bravado.  And so we cling – we cling to “stuff,” we are miserly with our love, we are not genuine about the true nature of our journey and we desperately cling to the way things are.   And ultimately we do this all because we fear the shame that we would face if we found ourselves abandoned and in want.   

     And so this fear of others emotionally or materially compromising us cripples as we squander our credibility one small deception at a time.  These masks become so entangled that we end up with no idea of who and what we are.  But we forget that in order to be vulnerable we must have something to lose.  If we realize that we never truly own anything but are simply stewards of what we have we live in gratitude of what is and do not want for anything.  When we become attuned to the emotional and physical needs of others they become aware of our own needs as well – there is no “face” or “pride” to lose.  The excuse of not surrendering to the realities of this moment and the human condition we share with others is but another illusion that conspires to keep us in ignorance.  Because truth and power can only flow through when we are genuine – when we surrender, become legitimate and allow our own humanity.  The reality is that we have nothing to lose but the opportunity – the opportunity to surrender, make ourselves vulnerable and gain the world.

Today, may I be real.  

Have a great Tuesday !!

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

What do you deserve? Meditation for 2/23/2014

Twilight in Beaufort, SC

“Give every other human being the right you demand for yourself.”  Robert Ingersoll

“Equality is probably forever unattainable.  It is a noble ideal, but it can never be realized because what men desire is not rights, but privileges.”  -  H. L. Mencken

     We hear a lot about “rights.”  People fight for rights, preserve their rights, lose their rights, die for their rights – the list goes on and on.  In the grand scheme, there are many “human rights” that folks before us fought and died to be sure that we as the citizenry had.  But on a day to day basis, when we have gotten our dander worked up about our “rights” it is because we feel we are due something.  We might think we have the right to revenge or recrimination when someone has wronged or criticized us.  We may think we have the right to a settlement or compensation when we feel someone’s actions have infringed upon our territory.  We might feel we have the right to speak our mind when we disagree with something, the right to take something when something has been taken from us, the right to a fair public hearing when we think we have been wronged – the list goes on and on. 

     For those of us who are doing the best we can to pursue a spiritual path, this is dangerous territory.  First, there is the issue with expectations as a whole.  As soon as we narrow our focus to an individual thing that we are “expectant” of we have set ourselves up for resentment and self-pity if our expectation does not come to pass.  At the same time, if the thing we expect comes to pass we have precluded gratitude – after all, once “it” is ours, it was merely what we “deserved” in the first place.   So when we decide we are going to demand something we think we are due it is easy to put ourselves in a no-win situation.  Another problem is how easy it is to wreak all manner of destruction when we think we are “owed” something.  In a heartbeat we can become completely self-centered and are trampling over the same “rights” of everyone else’s.  Is there anyone as scary as the zealot, who is so fervently consumed on their mission of exacting their due that they view any harm they cause others to be justifiable collateral damage?   Besides, if I walk around shaking my fist at the sky and demanding that I get what I deserve I may not be all that happy with how that works out.

     On the other side of the coin, when we see the wisdom of foregoing our “rights” on frequent occasions, do we view ourselves as martyrs?  If so, we have simply developed a new expectation that we are going to get some type of accolades in exchange for our “piety.”  Is there anything more pathetic as the pious victim, who bemoans their “sacrifices” in the secret hopes that victim mentality will bring them some sort of elevated status?  If so, we have missed the whole point of humility and gratitude.  When our focus is on “getting our due” it is impossible to be in a frame of mind sufficiently open and willing to allow the spirit to work with and through us to attain the best possible outcome of the situation at hand – right NOW and right HERE.  With some spiritual maturity, we realize that what we think we are owed is seldom the thing of most value that can come out of the situation.  We learn to get out of the way, open our mind, seek guidance and look for the greater good.  Because what we think we want is seldom the best thing for us and almost never the best alternative available.  And if we are looking to the future for our “salvation” we are sure to live a life full of unsated anticipations.

Today, may I want what I have.

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Have a great Monday !!


Thursday, February 20, 2014

In a hurry? Meditation for 2/21/14

Fripp Island; SC

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”  - Socrates

“Take time for all things.  Great haste makes great waste.”  - Benjamin Franklin

     Ever notice how there is time to do things over when it did not seem there was time to do them right to start with?   And it seems the norm that when we have to go back and correct something it is much more difficult than doing it right to start with.   When we rush hither and yon trying to be all things to all people we are usually not much to anyone, ourselves included.  Alternately, if we are doing work just to be doing something and find ourselves doing meaningless tasks just to avoid clearing other issues out of our mind, we need to remind ourselves we are better off “doing nothing at all.”  Multi-tasking might look good on paper, but typically falls short in overall efficiency.

     Time spent in awareness and at peace with ourselves is our most precious time.  Quietly focusing on one task, just the one immediately in front of us, helps overcome procrastination and can stop us from obsessing about other things that are bothering us.  And, if that one task we focus on is to sit quietly and be fully aware right now, that is something in itself.

Today, may I remember that my time is my life.  

Have a great Friday !!

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Some sick thoughts - Meditation for 2/20/2014

Fripp Island; SC

"Health is not valued until sickness comes."  -  Thomas Fuller

"We are not victims of sickness, aging and death.  They are just part of life's scenery."  -  Deepak Chopra

     Experiencing physical illness has a way of bringing our priorities back to the basics. Some illnesses are chronic, and never going to go away, and some come with symptoms so debilitating that we don't have any choice in the matter.  But I am speaking of the illnesses that come and go - that plague us all from time to time.  It might be a broken bone, the flu or a cold or any of other ailments that slow us down for a while.  

      When we are relatively healthy we may get to thinking we are entitled to good health.  But give us a downturn, and our attitude changes quick.  One tempting notion is to start thinking we are going to feel this miserable for the rest of our lives.  Another is to mask our symptoms with drugs and push ourselves into doing the things we think we are supposed to be doing.  Still another is to just medicate the pain away and pull the covers over our head until it passes.  But one thing is for sure - our body is telling us something is wrong and we need to prioritize attending to it.  When we finally do get better we may feel some gratitude for a day or so when we get the cast off, can eat solid food again or our head stops spinning.  But soon we are back in the grind and the gratitude is gone.

     Since gratitude is such a crucial component to a meaningful life, perhaps we need to do things on a regular basis that remind us to be grateful for our own help.  A couple of years ago, I helped cook Thanksgiving dinner at a Hospice center.  Seeing all of those people who were dealing with imminent death had  profound effect on me for a few months.  Then there are the times that I visit people I know in the hospital or nursing home, and I always walk away feeling a good bit more grateful for my health.  One thing we are all guaranteed in life is that our own health will permanently fail one day, and it is easy to try to avoid our fears of that reality by skipping those opportunities to be of service to those that are sick.  But perhaps those very opportunities will be what gives us the gratitude we need to know a meaningful life on a day to day basis.  

Today, may I take a healthy dose of gratitude.

If you have ideas or suggestions for the meditations or this journey, please email me by Clicking Here.  If you would like to contribute to this journey or help set up the foundation, please click Here.  And what ever you do, 

Have a great Thursday !!

Know somebody that needs fixin'? Meditation for 2/1/2014

Fripp Island; SC

"Any nation that would enslave another unwittingly enslaves themselves."  -  Johann von Goethe

"When you stop trying to change others and work to change yourself, your world improves."  - Anon

     People close to us do things that annoy us.  In fact, people close to us do things that make their life much more difficult - and by extension make things more difficult for us too.  We know that unsolicited advice never works, but sometimes we go beyond that and decide we are going to "fix" someone else.  After all, we are convinced we know what is best and feel it is our duty to "change" them.  And how does this work out?

     It goes back to the old adage about "give a man a fish, feed him for a day - teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."  If we have determined what we think is best for someone else, we may have the leverage to force them into doing it for a while.  Will they ever be a good at it?  What makes us think we can predict the future so well that we know who is best suited to be a fisherman versus a cattle rancher or a carpenter?  How is it that we think we know what doors will open up for someone else when they "hit their bottom" with their circumstances?  We may think we can predict the future, but all we need to do is to take a look back at our life and we quickly see that we really have no clue what is in store for any of us. 

     Of course it is our responsibility to let others know what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable as they impact us, but we are talking here about going the step beyond that and taking action to force someone else into the behaviors we want.  If we look honestly at it, we see that we never have changed anyone else - only they can change themselves.  At best they might reach a point of pain and choose to pattern their actions on the actions they see us taking in our own life.  And, at best, if we are "successful" at forcing someone else into a particular behavior, have we done anything more than use our influence to take a hostage?  Have we not simply saddled ourselves with another dependent?

     Fixing others doesn't work.  Leading by example works sometimes.  Straightening ourselves out so that we can seek a spiritual solution to our problems works every time.  But it is a lot easier to focus on what we think needs changed in others than to face what needs changed within ourselves.  We serve ourselves and others best by keeping our side of the street clean and focusing our attentions on helping others with what they CANNOT do for themselves.

Today, may I be prudent.

Have a great Wednesday !!

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Need direction? Meditation for 2/18/2014

If you don't believe, pray in disbelief, but pray earnestly.  Belief will come along with the results.  -  Anon

Insanity 101: Repeating the same action over and over and expecting a different result.  Insanity 201: Knowing what works and refusing to do it.  -  Chris Crolley

     There are those of us who refuse to try prayer because we secretly fear it will work, thus "proving" our deepest fear - that our "self" is inadequate.  Of course this is hidden deeply beneath an air of prideful arrogance.  There are those of us who refuse to pray because we think that whatever God there is must be far too distant and "above" us for our prayers to be meaningful.  There are those of us who pray as though it were some ceremony, trying to impress whatever ears the prayer may fall on with displays of "holiness"  and obeisance.  And even for those that have genuinely tried and made connection with the "Spirit of the Universe," there come times of disillusionment and rebellion, when praying is the last thing we want to do.

     Luckily, experience shows that the spirit never makes difficult terms with those that genuinely try to seek connection - regardless of past errors and missteps.  Praying simply for direction is the one prayer that always works.  Sometimes the direction we are given may not appear like the best course, but if we could see the correct course in the first place we wouldn't need direction.  Regardless of where we are at in our life, the simple and earnest plea for guidance will help us improve our situation.  The only way we can fail at it is to refuse to try in the first place.

Today, may I do what works.

Have a great Tuesday !!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Want Peace? Meditation for 2/16/2014

“There is no ‘way to peace.’  There is only peace itself.”  Gandhi

“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.”  - Eckhart Tolle

“If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else.”  -  Marvin Gaye

    Agitators agitate.  Sometimes it is because they stand to profit from the chaos that conflict creates.  Sometimes it is because they stand to profit in the aftermath of the conflict.  And in every case they are cowards – unwilling or unable to find peace within themselves.  One of the easiest ways to avoid facing and resolving internal conflict is to get engaged in some external chaos – after all, if others are doing the same thing then “we are not so bad.”  And if no conflict is handy, it is easy enough to find and exaggerate differences between others.   After all, the coward’s greatest fear – far beyond the fear of death – is that they will have to face themselves, and in the process will find that they are “inadequate” as human beings.  This plays itself out at all levels of human society – from the family unit to international relations.

     On the individual level, to the exact degree we have unresolved fears within us are we vulnerable to the manipulations of the agitator.  Thus, if we are tired of being manipulated, the solution lies not in changing them but rather in changing ourselves.  If we have faced and grown beyond the deep underlying fear that we might be inadequate, we have made great gains toward being impervious to manipulation.  If we have done the work to face our fears we realize that our true self is not other’s opinion of us or what collections of objects, accolades, achievement or information we have accumulated.  If we have done the work of self-examination we realize we are not even the body we occupy or the thoughts, opinions and emotions we generate.  And if we have honestly done the work to connect with that spiritual essence that is woven throughout all, we realize that if we stay connected we will be ok no matter what.  How is another to manipulate us when realize that we will be ok no matter what – when we no longer fear loss of material things, we know we are perfectly adequate and even death itself no longer intimidates us? 

     From this point of understanding, we see others as we see ourselves – a whole and complete being who struggles with the insecurities of the human condition.  And from this position of understanding we cannot help but show empathy and love because we can then see clearly the deep fears that plague the one who would agitate.  Does this mean that we can “change” them?  Of course not; their path is theirs to follow.  They have to exhaust every attempt to avoid facing themselves before they will know enough pain to become teachable anyway.  But we can avoid buying into the drama – we can stick to the high road and avoid the sewers of self-centeredness.  We can avoid being drawn into the drama and still be understanding.  We can serve as an example of peace, and we can walk away from things when we realize that they are not what we first thought.  But in reality it is rare that we have to walk away from anything - ignorance cannot stand in the presence of enlightenment; it create or find some other negativity to prop itself up to avoid caving in upon itself.     

Today, may I know freedom.

If you have any troubles getting these by email, or if you have any input please contact me by clicking Here.  If you would like to contribute to help with this journey or to get the foundation going, just Click Here.  And whatever you do, have a

Happy Monday !!


Friday, February 14, 2014

Look before you . .step? Meditation for 2/14/2014

Cole's Island Creek; SC

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who endowed us with sense, reason and intellect intends for us to forego their use.”  - Galileo Galilei

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  - Benjamin Franklin

     Logic and reason all too easily become rationalization and justification.  I can use my own sound judgment to talk myself into or out of just about anything.  I can also selfishly want something so badly that I disguise its acquisition behind the appearance of a good deed or by manipulating conditions to make it appear as though it were a necessity.   I can make up valid reasons to avoid seeking the counsel of others knowing full well that they will advise me against it.  Sometimes I just do not want to admit that I do not know what I do not know.  But this all adds up to situations where I have created such a mess that I despair.  Rather than ask if it is a good idea to jump off the cliff, I first jump and then either holler for rescue on the way down or allow my pride to keep me silent and thus suffer every possible bruise and broken bone the landing has to offer.  Afterwards, I find myself stuck in the mud, saying things like: “I had a feeling that wasn’t a good idea” or “There is no way I could have known” or more often “What imbecile put that dang cliff in my way?”

     Seeking guidance is much more effective if done prior to jumping off a cliff.  Sometimes I forget to do this - usually when I desire something so strongly that I act before I think.  Other times I am afraid of the answer I will get if I ask, so I go ahead with my own plan anyway.  And of course when things overall are going pretty good I start feeling invincible and convince myself that I needn’t bother God or others.  When it becomes clear that the resulting calamity is not only un-avoidable but overwhelming in its scope it suddenly occurs to me that seeking direction and intervention might be a good idea. 

     Perhaps after a few failures (preferably of the non-fatal variety) we remember to consult maps and ask for directions rather than traveling at break-neck speed through un-known terrain.  Once we are stuck in the mud an ounce of prevention is worth a lot more than a pound of cure - because often there is not a pound of anything that can undo the damage our decision has caused.

Today, may I pause BEFORE I get myself agitated.  D.Emch    

Have a great Friday !!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Does anybody really know what time it is? Meditation for 2/13/2014

"Now" clock in Bluffton SC

“Forever is composed of nows.”  -  Emily Dickenson

“Now is eternity.  Eternity is now.”  - Deepak Chopra 

   A portal is defined as a point or means of entrance; a gateway.  When it comes to things spiritual, I am convinced there is but one portal to any of the dimensions that lie above us.  That opening – the only gateway available is now.  Now as in this current instant of time.   If we want to be able to get a glimpse of anything beyond this, we must do the work to deprive our ego of the means to keep us in the past – we rid ourselves of anger, grudges, guilt and shame.  We then do the work to keep our ego out of the future – we address our fears and our tendency to project.  As we rid ourselves of these annoyances we start to live in the present moment.  But then we find that in the current moment our ego wants to attach and judge and thus still keeps us from being fully present.  It labels this and that as good or bad, wants us to like or dislike one thing after another and launches into thought processes that still distract us from being fully aware.  But as we work to start living in our spirit and distancing ourselves from this babbling we begin to become present in the moment.  Now what?

     Being – awareness, consciousness, connectedness – this is the essence of life.  The more fully present we become the more intensely we become aware of the essence of all that is around and within us.  Where we used to have a hunch now and then we come to live in intuition and inspiration.  We see meaningful coincidences that exceed the bounds of coincidence time after time – in fact we can become so used to them that they begin to seem “normal.”  Of course our thinking mind constantly tries to creep in and pull us out of this zone, but with a bit of maintenance we know deep joy and serenity that we did not think possible.  We find ourselves of great use to our fellows and our life takes on a complete new meaning.  A whole new world awaits us – and it awaits us now.  What a phenomenal classroom this world is – the ultimate “on the job training.”  And the only time we need to fully experience it is now.

Today, may I be as fully present as I am capable of.  D.Emch

Have an awesome Thursday !!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Think you got it coming? Meditation for 2/10/2014

May River; Bluffton SC

"You'll have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was."  -  Abraham Lincoln

"What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude."  - Brene' Brown

     The attitude of "entitlement" seems to hover around ill gotten gains, unearned spoils and quick affluence.  One aspect of this attitude is encapsulated in the early 1900's quote referring to the railroad baron's moral code - "What is not nailed down is mine, and what I can pry loose is not nailed down."  Another is the notion that many of us believe we are entitled to love, perhaps because we received unconditional love from our parents which we did nothing to deserve.  Numerous studies have shown that when one is given an unfair advantage over another, our human nature kicks in and we justify the gains of our advantage through this foggy notion of entitlement.  But regardless of how it developed or what aspects of our life it encompasses, this mindset will poison all that comes within its reach.

     Among the negative dynamics of this attitude is that one must set themselves apart from the rest of humanity in order to justify the belief that they are entitled to this or that.  It usually comes from some notion of "superiority" - perhaps taught in childhood or developed along the way.  It tells the sufferer that they deserve something that they do not have to give or earn.  It may be respect, love, assets, empathy, simple politeness, time or a host of other things.  This runs directly contrary to the spiritual laws that require us to give what we would receive.  Entitlement mentality precludes gratitude, and creates a slippery slope that leads to victim mentality, which has been referred to as the most addictive non-pharmaceutical narcotic.  After all, if anything "good" that comes my way is simply what I think I deserved to start with what other way is there to go but down?  And if use this mechanism to justify abhorrent behavior on my part how am I ever going to develop even the smallest dose of humility?

     As with any other serious flaw of character, one of the quickest ways we can spot this in ourselves is if we accuse others of it.  We always notice in others those defects of character with which we are most intimately acquainted.  And when we start feeling entitled, we soon start to judge and "wall-off" others in life.  And ultimately these walls are not just mental blocks, they take physical form as we barricade ourselves further and further away from the mainstream of life and become more deeply riddled with fear.  In an attempt to convince ourselves that this is normal we may surround ourselves with others who are equally miserable - but deep down that we are not connected - that we are drifting further and further from the light of love and fellowship.

     The antidote is gratitude.  And if we have so much "stuff" in our life that we cannot find gratitude, we need to get rid of "stuff" until we are down to a level that we can.  Otherwise our life is but an illusion - our self-worth is but a collection of trinkets and hostages.  And the day will come that we realize that although we may have existed, we never really lived a day at all.

Today, may I allow myself to be a human.

Happy Monday all !!

     If you have any feedback or ideas, please feel free to contact me by Clicking Here.  And if you would like to contribute to this journey and the set-up of this foundation, please Click Here.  Thank you for your interest and support !!


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Got what it takes? Meditation for 2/7/14

Kiawah Island; SC

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” – Plato

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is the light, not our darkness that frightens us most.”  -  Marianne Wilson

     Much more energy is spent avoiding or fighting things we fear than creating or developing our potential.  And when it comes to doing the work necessary to follow the spiritual path, this is especially true.  To the one who has never attempted it, the path looks like the way of the weak.  Besides being weak, why would one need “an invisible man in the sky” to give their life meaning?  But as with everything spiritual, the truth is the exact opposite of the perceptions of our ego.

     When we first make the determination that we are going to focus on and listen to the small still voice within we realize the need to hear the voice better.  When we finally go beyond paying lip service to this notion and begin the attempt to actually do this we start detaching from and observing the incessant chatter in our heads.  “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” was the World War II era quote by F.D.R.  And early on the road to spirituality, allowing ourselves to realize how completely our ego and society at large dominates us with fear is an unpalatable task.  This is the first and one of the most difficult barriers to penetrate – our ego fights us at every turn when we try to detach from its falsehoods.  It is terrified of death, and rightly so as we have conditioned it to think that it IS who we are for our whole lives. 

     When we start hearing the voice more clearly we face many more obstacles - all of which seem very real until we break through them.  We fear that a spiritual life means we “won’t have fun anymore” when in reality we come to realize that living in an illusion isn't fun at all.  We fear that detaching from ourselves will separate us from our fellows, when in reality they will be drawn to us like never before.  As we are shown more along the path, we come to fear that we cannot handle the spiritual power that is ours to tap into, when in reality the spirit will never give us more than we can handle.  And when it comes to actually coming face to face with the divine – we fear all manner of things.  We fear letting go of our tethers to what we have come to believe life is, we fear that we will be found unworthy of our birthright, we fear that we will get lost along the way and not be able to find our way back – the fears go on and on.  But the benefits that we experience all along this path are the best things a human can experience.  Yes, we all fear the light – and we fear it in different ways and in different intensities at different stages of our development.  But to allow our fears to make us quit before the miracle happens?  That indeed is a tragedy – one that happens much more often than enlightenment ever does.

Today, may I stay the course.

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Happy Friday !!

The most effective tools are free. Meditation for 2/6/2014

Port Royal; SC

“The dog who wags its tail rather than its tongue knows many friends.”  – Karen Jones

“Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy.”  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

     Our demeanor is how we treat those around us.  Its impact carries far – what we put out to others affects how they in turn treat those they come in contact with.  Just as one small drop of extract adds enticing flavor to a large batch of dough or one slightly bad apple will spoil a whole barrel-full; just so does kindness breeds kindness and negativity breed negativity in those around us.   Our attitude ripples out into those around us – does it lift them up or push them under?

     It is not always easy to maintain a good attitude with others, but there are some tools.   Everyone has fears and has known loss; we can choose to believe that they are doing the best they can with what they have.  The alternative is to be judgmental and spend most of our time keeping score sheets on others.  We can be quick to see where others are right and focus on what we have in common.   We can ask engaging questions rather than spewing opinions.   Whenever there is a disturbance, we can ask ourselves if we are a part of the problem or a part of the solution and remember that no situation is so bad that kindness will not improve it. 

     I am not sure if kindness breeds self esteem or self esteem breeds kindness, but there is definitely a link.  It does not require being fond of someone to be kind to them, but there is definitely a link between quality of friendships and kindness also.  A good attitude overcomes obstacles, negativity creates them.   Among the good things in life that do not cost us a thing, a good demeanor may have as much impact as any.

Today, may I be a student of life.  

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Happy Thursday !!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Think you know what you are talking about? Meditation for 2/5/14

St. Helena Island; SC

“There are two ways we are fooled.  One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”  -  Soren Kierkegaard

“I know you heard what I said, but I don’t think you know that what I said isn't what I meant.”  -  Nurse Pat of Daufuskie

     The truth is one of the few things in life that is not subject to change.  The truth remains the truth, regardless of how often or for how long a lie is told.  Living in the truth is much easier than lying – we don’t have to remember who we told what when we tell the truth.  And when we are telling the truth, we fear no question anyone could ask.  But for a thing that is so seemingly simple and worthwhile to embrace, it sure can be elusive.

     First, there are all the lies we were taught in our text-books and by those that taught us when we were younger.  These were primarily lies about history – lies of omission, faulty perspective, one-sided stories and a host of other ways we were given false information.  These seem to be pretty deeply imprinted in us because we were so impressionable in our formative years.  We may repeat these for the rest of our life, having a fully clean conscience because we are convinced we are telling the truth.  Many of these lies that were told were designed to get us to subscribe to a particular political or religious philosophy and others were simply gross exaggerations or omissions that the deceivers were convinced were noble.  But many these lies subtly became a part of our “identity,” and when confronted with a vastly differing perspective later in life it is difficult to even entertain the new information because the old is rooted beneath so many layers we have built upon it.  And even if we learn the truth in these circumstances, the lie is usually so widely believed that trying to convince anyone else of the truth is counter-productive.

     Then there are those lies we come to believe because of our own limited perception.  In an old episode of MASH, the nurses are all angry at a new nurse because she received sweets and didn't share them.  The new nurse died and they were still bad talking her.  Then someone read her diary and found out that she didn't eat the sweets either – she snuck them into the hospital and gave them to the gravely injured soldiers.  Often what is plainly evident to us is completely false because we see such a limited perspective.  And other times we hear what people say and either we have misinterpreted them or they accidentally misspoke.  And just ask any magician if you should believe what you “see with your own eyes.”

      And then of course there are the lies we tell ourselves.  Mostly rooted in one anxiety or another, we take a circumstance and conjure up horrid scenarios about what the future holds.  We then work these into a story we tell ourselves, we end up believing our own story and we act on it – we actually alter our lives because of fantasies rooted in fear.   These lies may cost us more opportunity than all the other lies combined.

     The bottom line is that for the most part what we think we know is either entirely inaccurate, out of context or out of perspective.  It is the wise person who is cautious about believing anything besides the circumstances that are present this very moment.  And even when we think we know something about ourselves, this life or the force that stands behind this Universe we are wise to be cautious about what we swallow whole.

Today, may I be discerning.

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Hungry? Meditation for 2/4/14

Dinner at Rocco and Olga's - St. Helena Island SC

“For a meal to be truly wholesome, all involved should participate in the preparation, consumption and clean-up.”  -  Earl Beery

“One of the best ways to stay grounded is to regularly have your hands in the dirt.”  Debbie DeJong.

     If we want to interact in a meaningful way with others, one of the best opportunities is to share a meal.  Yes, meeting at a restaurant is a good opportunity for a change of scenery and some good interaction, but there is nothing like it when people gather and consume a meal in which all have participated.

     We live in a time and a place where an amazing variety of foods are available, and tutorials on how to prepare food are easily obtained.  We also live in a time where it seems the foods that are the most convenient and often very cheap are some of the unhealthiest things we can eat.  But we all have choices – many of us have a bit of land or access to land on which we can grow a bit of our own food.  It doesn’t take that much – seeds can often be gotten free or very inexpensively.  Dirt is everywhere, and spending a bit of time tending to something that will actually help sustain us?  Well, as the tired adage goes, that is priceless.
     But there is something about participating fully with others in a meal.  Many different talents come together, and inevitably we can learn something new about food.  Accomplishing all the small tasks it takes to complete requires that we cooperate with others and in the end all feel like they have been a part of accomplishing something.  And something about coming together with others to create a meal seems to be one of the most natural and age-old forms of sharing that there is.

     Beyond being an opportunity to interact and get to know others better, it is a great way to break the ice and get to know people in the first place.  And it is an opportunity to do some great service work – there are always those around us who are struggling financially or are new to the area.  Far beyond the physical benefits of paying attention to what we eat, there are all sorts of healthy aspects surrounding food that we can incorporate into our lives.

Today, may I learn to cooperate and share.

Have a great Tuesday !!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bored? Meditation for 2/3/14

Port Royal; SC

“Showing up is eighty percent of life.”  -  Woody Allen

“Get up, dress up, show up and grow up.”  -  Anon

     As we begin a spiritual path it is all we can do to quiet the voices in our head.  The ego clamors for control with every device it can muster.  Try as we might, it is very difficult to differentiate what is our ego talking and what is that intuitive voice.  But with time and effort we start to sort it out, and we start to get the guidance we seek from that small still voice within.
     How often do we miss our intuitive voice’s urging?  We are driving down the road, and the notion hits us that a passing place might be interesting.  Or we are sitting somewhere and see a person who seems they might be interesting.  Maybe it is a book we hear about and it strikes us that we should read it.  Perhaps it is the idea that we should get out of the house and go for a walk in the park.  Immediately the ego steps in.  “I can always stop there.  They probably don’t want to talk to me.  I’ll get it later.”   Next, our ego gets the rationalization going.  “Besides, I need to get home.  On second thought, they don’t really look that interesting.  It probably would have been boring anyway.”  And just like that the opportunities to expand our horizons pass us by.  The intuitive thought comes in and is quickly shoved out by the negativity of fear, procrastination and judgmentalism.   It happens on the larger scale too.  We talk ourselves out of taking some continuing education classes, out of learning a new skill, applying for a new job – on and on the list goes.  And just like that we miss the infinite world of possibilities that might have been ours.

     What is the point of praying for guidance and direction if we then refuse to follow the intuitive voice that would guide us?  Why bother taking the time to pray and quiet ourselves if we are going to allow anxieties to blot out the path that is ours for the taking?  Why let our concerns about what others think outweigh the world of possibilities that is ours?  These things seem so evident when we look at them from this detached point of view, but when the “rubber hits the road” in our day to day life listening to that intuitive voice isn’t nearly so easy.

     The only time we can listen to that voice and make the choice to follow it is now.  We can’t go back and try to apply yesterday’s guidance today, and we cannot get a road map for the next two days – let alone the next two decades.  But we can attune to the best of our ability today, then make the choice to take the actions necessary to follow up.  The next thing we know whole new vistas of life open up, and where we despaired that our life was drab and boring we suddenly have a wealth of opportunity.  Yes, faith without doing the work to take the guidance given is a dead faith indeed.  But faith combined with willingness and curiosity opens doors we never thought possible.

Today, may I show up for my own life.