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9 December 2016 0 Comments

Travel Experiences 13: The Energy of Location

Travel Experiences 13: The Energy of Location

The Abbey in Melk, Austria, was not austere. It sported a staggering hoard of gem- and gold-encrusted relics, impressive religious costumes and accoutrements, and a jaw-dropping church like a cornucopia of angels, statues, precious paintings, and mysterious symbolism. The Abbey occupies the highest plot of land with the best overview of the area—a great spot from which to literally look down on the commoners. This opulence, in its time, seemed to speak more of the love of power and wealth than of religious sanctity or charitable service.

Once a visiting place for Viennese kings and queens, Melk Abbey became considerably more modest as politics and religion changed over the last few centuries. Its majesty is now open to thousands of tourists a day, as the Abbey preserves and displays its treasures.img_4777

Whether or not Saint Francis would have approved of accumulating them, I loved seeing this astonishing and historic expression of human values. Viewing this slice of history through a modern lens made me question those values. If the Church had not accumulated huge gems and gold, where would they now be, and of what use? At least people can marvel at them in the Abbey, and observe how they were used to impress and perhaps control the populace. It’s not like one can eat them. And they aren’t locked up in someone’s safe where no one can see.

History, architecture, art and beauty are interesting and even edifying to experience. Travel stimulates growth not just from the people, situations, sights and things we encounter, but from the energy of location.

New York, for example, is masculine and electric. Hawaii is feminine and magnetic, earth and water. Italy accentuates the second chakra. If we visit these places when their energy serves us, the experience is very different than going when the same energy runs counter to our needs.

Spots on the planet, my Healer tells me, are like acupuncture points on our bodies. The energy in each spot flows a bit differently and has a different impact when we are there. I have not been drawn to analyze this in detail, but I do try to sense where I feel drawn to, to pick a timing that feels right to me, and to absorb the influence of the land while I am there. Sometimes I find myself drawn to a location because the specific energies of that spot on the planet are necessary to me at that point in time.

As we saw earlier in this series, location and the energy of a place can evoke past life experiences or stimulates specific learning. Travel is not always fun or pleasurable, but if we remain open to the world as we travel, it provides a different set of experiences and helps us to know ourselves.

Part of the line for the photo of the castle.

p1050295The last jaunt of my journey took me to the two castles in Fussen, just over the Austrian border in Bavaria. The throngs were seriously bad, making for multiple-hour waits to enter, and an hour-long traffic jam between the tiny town and the castles. I did not especially react to the crowds. Part of this may reflect my Inner Work. The fact that these crowds did not do the staring-like-you-don’t-exist thing helped immensely. The castles were lovely, but I could have forgone them for the trouble. I couldn’t hike, bike along the river, or go to the local hot springs with my stitches. It rained. I was surrendered enough that I didn’t mind.

Are there specific places to which you are drawn?

What is it that draws you?

What is the energy influence of a place you have been?

How did the area stimulate you, and what did that contribute to your life at that point in time?

2 December 2016 5 Comments

Travel Experiences 12: A Surprising & Meaningful Exchange

Travel Experiences 12: A Surprising & Meaningful Exchange

For several days my only verbal exchanges had been brief, impersonal and strictly practical. Being silent while shoulder to shoulder with talking people who did not even glance at me began to feel like living in a different dimension. Occasionally I actually spoke to people without being noticed. Sometimes I felt sort of helpless or as if I didn’t exist. On the other hand, when I cannot understand a word people are saying my mind stays quieter; I judge less when I don’t hear the content of people’s conversations. I like that aspect of travel.

I was on a train platform, making a transfer on route to a new location. The area was deserted, but for a rather extraordinary couple, to whom I was drawn. The lack of throngs seemed surreal. I tried for eye contact and the couple seemed cool and insular. They sat down on the only bench.

Having become accustomed to people not speaking English, I heard myself mutter beneath my breath, “You are very beautiful. It would be good if you had heart.” I had passed the bench and was looking down onto the empty train track. As I turned back, I saw the couple conferring with one another. Apparently they not only spoke perfect English but were abnormally alert and had exceptional hearing!

Startled and embarrassed, I made to apologize but my unformed words fell away as they scooted over and offered me a seat. The man’s smile was p1030054absolutely stunning.

Over the next hour I had the delight of sharing a train compartment and profound conversation with this couple. The man had assessed me quickly and accurately—he worked as a plain clothes anti-terrorist detective. He lived in Cairo and tracked terrorism globally. His lovely wife was a news anchor. They were so young, brilliant, and well traveled! (I got a photo, but it does not feel right to share it.)

The man had an amazing quality of heart. His work gave him the habit of keeping himself tucked in when in public, and staying attentive. I wondered aloud how he came to this work. He had began school majoring in fine arts, and missed entry to a prestigious college by a tiny margin. His father was a policeman. He followed in his father’s footsteps, but chose detective work in which he pursued specific missions rather than constantly interfacing with the public. He truly wants to serve.

I adored his amazing balance between heart and intelligence, and the sheer physical beauty with which he and his wife were graced. I was glad to hear they had children.

The three of us had great talks about politics, travel, religion, and racial dynamics. It was difficult, the man told me, to be seen as black by whites, white by blacks, and Muslim by those in fear. He said, “In English places I am Arab. In Africa I am white.”

We agreed that people fairly often imagine that situations and issues have to do with color when they do not. Obviously they often do, but race can also be freighted with weight when it is incidental to the situation. It is human to project our issues and fears onto others, and to think they see us as we imagine they do— not as they actually see us. We discussed racial dynamics in police work, in mutual accord. He was loving and open minded.

When he commented on being Arab I said, “Peace be with you” in Arabic and his face lit up. He and his wife were delighted to discover that I say some Arabic Names of God. Arabic contains a lot of complex, useful, and powerful insights about the nature of the Divine. The Names have a kind of resonance that impacts energy directly, unlike English. Those useful tools transcend politics and race.

When the train arrived at my transfer point, the man went out of his way to help me all the way off the train with my bags, even through it was not his stop. His courtliness went beyond keeping me from pulling my recent stitches carrying weight down the stairs. Touched, I now understood an image I’d had right after we met. On the train platform before we spoke, I ‘saw’ him helping me with my bags. I had no idea where the image came from and found it sort of embarrassing. Now I realized that it had been a premonition.

I was sorry to part company with this delightful couple.

The fact that I attracted this encounter is fascinating, given all of the elements with which I had been working and the odd conditions that gave rise to our interaction. I don’t think they would have opened to me if I had not broken the ice with my accidental comment.

Have you ever done or said something you thought was stupid and later realized it was essential?

How do you feel about totally loving people and letting go of them at the same time?

26 November 2016 0 Comments

Travel Experiences 11: Working the Wound, Part 5: Deeper Layers

Travel Experiences 11: Working the Wound, Part 5: Deeper Layers

Spiritual development is not a straightforward process. Even as we gradually gain mastery of some skills, the level of difficulty of simple tasks can telescope as we go more deeply into experience.

Using Divine Names in spiritual practice can address a vast array of issues at multiple levels of experience. We keep yielding deeper results if we employ them sincerely over a period of time. This post further illuminates the synergy between the practices Raqib (loving attention) and Hafiz (respect and protection), continuing from prior posts.

Effective spiritual practice can evoke deeper layers of the same issues that the practices soothe. Over time, practice eventually alters life experience and behavior. Initially, focusing on change often stimulates and evokes the issues we attempt to change. This can make practice difficult to sustain. Following through anyway allows us to uproot and resolve the issues and alter our img_4755responses to stimuli.

Meher Baba said, “True spirituality is not for the faint of heart!” Our essential unity with all Beings becomes easier to realize as we learn to face all that we turn away from. Some of our inner landscapes can be more challenging than what we experience outside ourselves. We resist seeing ourselves in certain ways. Spiritual work, intelligently sustained, ultimately works down into our defenses and identity-related processes, which often resist awareness.

Using my recent experience as an example: Among crowds, I was judging others for inattentiveness and lack of heart. I understand the origins of this reaction in my personal history. Understanding is a good step—but on its own, understanding may not dissolve reactivity. It does, however, form a basis for useful self observation. When I can bring loving attention (Raqib) and protective respect (Hafiz) into my self observation, my energy begins to change, helping to actually dissolve old constellations.

A classic antidote for judging is to find the same in one’s self. Let us consider the old biblical saying: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Noticing everything that we react to in other people and looking to the cause of that reaction in ourselves is a good place to start. It is a useful operational premise to consider that when we judge others we have something to work on in ourselves. I used to think this was about my annoying flaws and the flaws of others. It can just as easily be about vulnerability, excessive-compassion, and other less-obvious imbalances.

As a young person, I found it easy to rationalize this way: “Viewed objectively, I have sawdust while they have the plank.” It was usually true. This was still an attempt to protect myself from my own exacting criticism. Even when the other person has the plank, this doesn’t work. What I needed to hear was that the next step is to find real compassion for how the sawdust and the plank arise and learn to express that compassion for both myself and the other person.

No bypass or defense, however well rationalized, enlightens. Awareness is key. (Ya Raqib)

By normal standards I am hyper-aware. Even though awareness is always a goal, I found it a bit scary to call in greater awareness with Ya Raqib. In img_4762actual fact, my practices took me into areas I had inadvertently resisted seeing, such as whatever was left of my inner wounds.

The places we have shut down are strongholds of ignorance. We instinctively protect wounds. Instinctual defenses often prevent exactly what we need from coming in. This is why we continue to need it. It is the thing that hasn’t been available, owing to our patterning.

Relaxing defenses does not mean walking around in states of excessive vulnerability. It means being observant without prejudice. This includes being open and willing to accept whatever protection (Hafiz) may be available.

Protection is not defense. Protection can show up as a form of grace, with which we move through the world, respecting things as they are. Awareness, for example, of a dangerous step, place, or person or circumstance need not evoke fear or defense. Respectful attention allows us to walk through or around danger without arousing it.

How does intensified attention differ from hyper-vigilance?

Focused attention does not stem from reaction. It is not embroidered by patterns from the past, or fear. Unlike hyper-vigilance, attention supports a steady condition of healthy orientation within the zen of reality.

Ultimately, spiritual practice develops the ability to stand in the dignity of Connection with Life, whether or not the people around us have enough heart to receive us.

How do your defenses keep out what you need?

What do you judge yourself for, and how does this judging keep you from resolving the underlying issue?

19 November 2016 2 Comments

Travel Experiences 10: Working the Wound, Part 4: Perspective

Travel Experiences 10: Working the Wound, Part 4: Perspective

Another failure of my self mastery was a matter of perspective—literally as well as figuratively. Here’s the story, in which I hope you will see some humor:

At the shriek of dawn I went out in the rain to get a few photos without people in them. The square by the Hallstatt boat station was deserted, but for one Japanese woman wandering. As I established perspective for my shot I noticed her become attentive. From the corner of my eye I saw her move a few feet to my left. The moment I began to shoot she stepped directly in front of me, three feet away, obscuring my view!

This one was okay; woman didn't notice I was there and wasn't so close.

This one was okay; woman didn’t notice I was there and wasn’t so close.

Gobsmacked, I cried “HEY!” and put myself three feet in front of her, demonstrating my complaint.

I had been telling myself for days that it was my imagination that a tourist would inevitably stand in front of me the moment I tried to take a photo. I told myself it was just the crowds, that we all want the best angle.

This shot was not improved by an exact position, yet the moment I looked through the lens, she darted in front. This act was so bald it might have been a joke. She had seen me glance at her when I was setting up my shot. Then she suddenly acted as if she didn’t notice me. This was not accidental, but neither did this seem to be a conscious act. I got the distinct impression I was supposed to pretend she wasn’t there. I had to surmise that this behavior was driven by cultural factors.

While not pleased with it, I gave my own behavior a low pass. In Western culture communicating boundaries is healthy and the woman’s behavior was quite rude. Language hadn’t been working, so I explained though action. Low because I did not decide to do it; I reacted. And I might have demonstrated gracefully.

When I give someone feedback about their behavior I always hope they will now think twice before doing the same thing to other people. I am hoping to contribute to the way the world works. I am even effective sometimes. I want to be intentional about this, not reactive or unrealistic. I am trying to give up awakening humanity in favor of awakening myself.

Marcel Proust wrote, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.”

Yes, we can wake ourselves up in our usual locations, but we do learn different things in new places and circumstances, which can stimulate new ways of seeing. Making ourselves available to experience and img_4897contemplate different cultures helps us to challenge our assumptions. Our own unexamined cultural expectations influence how we view people and respond in situations, increasing self awareness.

Every personality has features that resist Inner Work. These features are obvious in some personalities, and invisible in others. Those whose flaws are less evident to others rarely receive feedback about them. They then have less incentive to address their flaws, which operate internally but do not draw comment. Self-satisfied pride under a mask of humility or fear of conflict disguised as a spiritual value exemplify this principle.

Are your personality flaws easily noticeable or hidden?

What would come about if you directly expressed a hidden flaw?

If you judge people who express things that you hide, what fears underlie this judgment?

What would it take to master an obvious flaw?

What vulnerability lies underneath that flaw?

11 November 2016 0 Comments

Travel Experiences 9: Working the Wound, Part 3

Travel Experiences 9: Working the Wound, Part 3

Spacious Vienna had been a visceral relief after unrelenting crowds in Prague and Cesky Krumlov. Now I was in Hallstatt, a tiny, lovely lake town in Austria. Don’t let my early morning photo make you think it was tranquil: It must have been highlighted and underlined in Asian tour agencies. After breakfast the streets img_4887became a churning stew of humanity. Travelers I met on busses and trains said, “Japan must be empty right now.”

Limping with recent stitches, I tried to take the hordes in stride, resulting in several failures—and consequent insights.

I had been deepening the practices I described in Post #7, inhaling “Ya Raqib” (invoking loving attention) and exhaling “Ya Hafiz” (invoking respect and protection).

Taking a practice on the breath is one of the simplest and hardest things. You breathe in, focusing on bringing in the quality, and breath out the same or a complimentary quality. You are training yourself to vibrate with the qualities’ unique and complex subtle natures, which you begin to discover through direct experience. This is simple if you remain natural, allow, and observe. It can be hard to remember to do it, and keep focus without becoming mechanical.

Breath practice helps keep one from picking up energy from other people.

Practice-enhancing tips:

—Aim to sense the energy of the particular qualities and feel how they impact you emotionally.
—Remain open to insight.
—Practice and experience are more important than theory.
—Understanding develops organically, following experience.

Spiritual practice can sensitize us to the issues it addresses. This enhanced awareness is advantageous. It is not, however, always comfortable. If a particular practice is correct for an individual, doing it intensively helps to resolve underlying issues. Before they are resolved, the practice may well sensitize us to and activate those same issues. During that phase practice can feel counterintuitive. It takes attention and compassion to excavate and exhaust the accumulated impressions that give rise to defensive reactions.

Immersed again in throngs, my leg wound was making me self-protective. I did not want to be forced to step on something uneven and pull my stitches, and I couldn’t see the ground around all the bodies! Feeling unsafe released adrenaline, amplifying the survival reactions that arose from feeling trapped and overwhelmed by feeling the energy of so many people at close range. When I could stay with my breath I did okay. When I forgot, I felt as if the engulfing crowds might swallow and obliterate me. I had to exercise constant restraint not to rush to break free. The language barrier exacerbated feeling trapped and even helpless since I couldn’t communicate and people were pointedly resisting eye contact. Eventually I reacted.

I was trying to penetrate a tour group completely blocking the street. People were facing me, just standing there waiting for something. I said “excuse me,” but they looked through me as if I didn’t exist. I said it louder, from a few inches away. Absolutely no response. I finally windmilled my hands in front of a few blank faces, shouting “HEY!”

Okay, it was naughty, but the result was also rather humorous: The tourists in front of me started and blinked exactly as if I had literally just materialized from another dimension! I felt as if I had suddenly taken form on the material plane. Getting a response was a relief.

I started to enter the sand trap of shame, then shifted to sincere remorse, from which it was easier to p1030030rebalance and return to my practices. Breathing through my feet worked better, but contemplating the specific nature of each individual in front of me also helped me manage large groups in confined spaces. With practice and sufficient attention, I can use dignity and presence to supply myself with connection and safety instead of reacting.

A colleague at home later described being in a Seattle coop after having wounded her knee. She said she reacted similarly in the busy store. This made me feel better since she has a pleasant and patient nature.

What kind of situation or conditions demand self development for you?

What makes them challenging?

What qualities or behaviors would it serve you to develop?

4 November 2016 4 Comments

Travel Experiences 8: The Enduring Amidst the Temporary

Travel Experiences 8: The Enduring Amidst the Temporary

The afternoon following my injury I took my previously scheduled shuttle from Cesky Krumlov to Vienna. After small towns, the city was big and sprawling, but roomy enough to give me a needed break from throngs. Taxis were largely lacking. Even Metro and trams stations required a lot of hobbling. I tired quickly.

The next day I waited for about ninety minutes in a huge and crowded hospital. It took the doctor about ninety seconds to pull the drain from my wound, put on iodine salve and apply another bandage. He, too, img_4686warned me about infection and necrosis. I found it edifying that hospitals both here and in the Czech Republic use iodine ointment rather than antibiotics, even with such concerns.

I had to pay 250 euros in advance,and they said they would send me a additional bill. Hoping to get finances clear in person, I was directed tried to an office with a big sign on the door: “In-Vitro Fertilization.” That threw me off for a while. My efforts were fruitless, but when I got the bill a month later, it a credit for more two thirds of the advance.

The next two days I gaped at architecture that might have been built for Olympian gods. Consider what it took to build massive, exquisitely decorated buildings for public use! The attitude of investing intention and funds to inspire, stimulate and delight people for hundreds of years seems like a miracle in these days of cheap and fast. This architecture establishes an atmosphere that invites music, img_4636art, and poetry. It is not just an appearance. It sings energy. The Viennese street musicians seemed to have slipped out the back doors of concert halls.

The Kunsthistorisches Museum is enormous, widely varied, and world class. Standing on the inside staircase, staring at the decorous galleries and arches of the building itself was almost as pleasing as looking at, for example, a pitcher the size of a loaf of bread, carved fromp1030116 a hollowed-out quartz crystal, its handle shaped like a goddess. The Museum houses some astonishing art and famous paintings.



The old masters portrayed turning points in history, bloody biblical stories, and events from mythology. Quite a few famous paintings depict disturbing scenes, such as rape, incest, murder and betrayal. The realism, dimensionality and lighting in some of these magnificent works makes challenging subject matter striking, meaningful, and thought-provoking. The great beauty with which these scenes are shown helps us to receive them rather than being repelled. Being impacted deepens us, so these works contribute to culture.

Scenes of the potentially trivial accouterments of daily life, handled masterfully, also become precious. A real work of art helps us to awaken perception and appreciate life.

Travel supports looking at the world like art. The temporariness invites detachment and a heightened sense p1050613of value. Impermanence is a gentle reminder of our mortality. Remembering our mortality helps us to see exactly how things are. We seek to imprint what we see, via memory or on camera cards. We seize the moment just as it is since we may never return. Things that may seem mundane to those who live with them are discoveries if we’ve never seen them. Anything that wakes us up to the preciousness of the moment has value.

For me, beauty and mystery inspire and awaken. Give me a camera and an intriguing or lovely place and the moment consumes me.

How do you feel when exposed to disturbing art, rendered with great beauty?

What awakens you to the preciousness of life?

30 October 2016 2 Comments

Travel Experiences 7: Working the Wound, Part 2: Loving Attention

Travel Experiences 7: Working the Wound, Part 2: Loving Attention

Walking with the wound was its own concentration. Grateful that I could walk at all, I had to move with care. My slow, focussed rhythm was unusual. Those who notice others looked to my bandage and gave me room to reach handrails, or let me sit on crowded busses or trains.

The wound spoke in its only language—sensation. Sometimes the stitches pulled for no apparent reason. I worked at staying with sensation instead of pushing it away and relaxing fear.

In his response to my email, my Teacher suggested breathing up from the soles of my feet through my whole body and out through my crown, then exhaling through my crown and body, out my feet. He recommended adding the practices “Ya Raqib,Ya Hafiz” to my breath, though intention.

Ya (invoking) Raqib is a divine Name for loving attention. Inhaling in this intention, I watched each step to avoid jarring the wound. Bringing loving attention to my leg, limits and needs helped during onrushes in crowds. I kept renewing my intention to bring Earth energy in through my feet. This focus also helped me to p1030209take in my environment and locate places and items I was trying to find. It increased my confidence getting around.

Ya (invoking) Hafiz is a divine Name for protection, and also for deep respect. I exhaled this quality from my crown down and out my feet, beginning with respect for my body and the ways enhanced attention makes me safer.

Combining Ya Raqib and Ya Hafiz evoked numerous reflections:

Paying loving attention is doing our part. Expecting protection without contributing attention is absent accountability.

We need to NOTICE in order to truly respect. Making assumptions without truly noticing does not support respect. A few implications:

–If I did not feel my wound I may not respect my limits.
–If we do not notice the results of eating something we are sensitive to, we will keep eating it and irritate our bodies instead of respecting our needs.
–If someone thinks we are other than we are, they are unlikely to respect our needs.
–If we do not recognize our own energy, we cannot tell when we take on energy that does not belong with us and cannot respect our own need for boundaries.
–Being aware makes for right action.

Our degree of self respect and our ability to respect others are intimately involved with our relationship to physical space. The ways we do and cannot take up space reflect whether or not we feel respectable, and express some of the ways in which we respect or disregard others.

We have different styles of negotiating safety and personal space. Some people, for example, accumulate physical bulk and use it aggressively, demanding a lot of space. Some maintain energy fields like barbed wire or electric sparks for a similar function. Others shrink away and all but disappear in groups. Some blend so much they cannot tell who they are themselves. These types of behavior are rooted in the survival instinct. In part, they help compensate for feeling small, unimportant, unsafe or unseen.

Receiving respect assists us to feel seen and to feel safe.

Through practice we can root ourselves so strongly that we sense our existence whether or not anyone acknowledges us. Surmounting fear of nonexistence supports the ability to melt into profound meditation and broadens the range of experience with which we are comfortable.

My own practices began to show me my tendency to navigate away from occupied space by quickly flowing into open spaces. I noticed that I feel trapped and sometimes a bit panicky when I cannot move freely. Being fully grounded and taking up space intentionally adds gravity to my energy fields feels like dignity. The leg wound forced me to do this. Doing so felt good, if somewhat confining.

I still found oblivious tourists who stand in Borg-like (from Star Trek) solidarity, as if no one outside their hive exists challenging. As a child I felt that I didn’t matter or exist. My practices helped me begin to break down these impressions—but also sensitized me to them. Being trapped in crowds whose conditioning aggravated my old discomfort was like being annihilated in a sea of painful energy. I held a goal to be able to respect myself enough to respect the people who set me off.

Knowing my own wounds helped me respect myself. Sensing the wounds beneath people’s cultural conditioning helped with the outer part. I could see how martial arts and meditation could help counterbalance immersion in a hive-like mentality, where it’s hard to matter as an individual, and understand how constant selfies and being in every photo helped to affirm individual existence.

Crowd reduced sixty percent by rain

Crowd reduced sixty percent by rain, most groups not out.

Holding my own vibration with loving attention and respect among intense masses of energy was a useful self-development exercise. When I was too distracted by the crowds, it helped to focus on the individuality of each person in front of me.

What are your survival defenses?

When do they arise for you?

What do you do if your usual strategies for self care fail and you cannot get what you need or ask for it?

23 October 2016 0 Comments

Travel Experiences 6: Working the Wound, Part 1

Travel Experiences 6: Working the Wound, Part 1

The underworld parts of my journey began with the wound. In life as in mythology, a lot of journeys do. I hope you will find my deeper processes useful. Some parts are difficult to share.

At some point I asked myself: “Did I force the bike trip?” “Was I supposed to go?” “Did woman I called my img_5784‘travel angel’ showing up to guide me mean that I was supposed to be at the monastery?” “If I hadn’t gone, would I have injured myself elsewhere?”

Frankly, I roll my eyes if I think like this. I find “supposed to” or “meant to be” talk annoying. Who is doing the supposing? Such conjecture is rarely useful. Real experiences of meaning arise from feeling, not conjecture. Then again, if we stay with feeling, sensing, and intuition, mining experience for gems will surpass such theories.

I felt clear that what I was going through was related to my energy experience in the castle garden. (Part 4)

As I lived with my injury, memories and insights surfaced from my personal archeology:

About fifteen years ago I had what seemed to be a trivial wound in almost the same spot on my opposite shin. I slipped on a jungle-gym and found myself hanging upside-down by a rope. (Shades of The Hanged Man in Tarot.) That rope wound did not appear serious but the tissues resisted normal healing.

About ten years ago I accompanied other healers on a Shamanistic trip to ancient power spots and barrows in England and Ireland. As our bus passed through Wales a succession of different past life images surfaced, along with related emotions. This intense experience seemed to be a type of energy release. One salient visionary sequence clearly pertained to the shin wound:

I was a man, carrying a huge, rough wooden cross through the streets of a medieval town, having suffered this for some months. I felt ambivalent about this penance. It did not feel spiritually alive. After long deliberation I confronted the church leader, who had tasked me with this burden. We disagreed. I pushed the cross in his direction, rejecting it, but did not push hard enough. It fell back. I jumped back but the wall arrested my movement and a crossbar struck my right shin.

Subsequent images showed me limping winter streets with a wound that worsened over time. I died without coming to grips with related conflicts about my beliefs.

Whether or not we were raised with religion, many of us carry remnants of religious p1010666programing. This can show up in many different ways. For example, we may assign a sense that we can never be good enough to an abstract divine authority, feel we deserve to be punished for things we think, or feel shame about our basic humanity.

Following my past life reflections, the rope wound to my shin began to heal again after remaining stagnant for years.

My current mix of influences had pinged that past life memory:

–My injury occurred near a medieval town, just after exiting a monastery.
–I had been actively processing ambivalence related to power structures within my spiritual group. [I’m good with my Teacher.]
–I was struggling with a painful and awkward burden that did not seem mine to carry, yet it fell back on me when I refused to do so.

Current life tags to the past life wound that never healed fueled flashes of terror. Hospital staff had told me this area of the shin was subject to necrosis. I could not stay off my feet. I could not check the injury as I had been told to leave it undisturbed until the drain was taken out. I worried whenever it hurt.

The positive energy experience I evoked at the formal garden before the injury (Part 4), spoke to laying down burdens, allowing myself to be honored, living more lightly, and receiving support. My healer and I had long been working to correct a weak energy grid on my left lower body, related to the above. I had challenged my status quo.

Some energy-based issues can be corrected immediately. Effective energy work then influences our life experience and reduces related reactivity. Pulling out energies that do not belong with us usually falls into this category. Energy patterning formed over decades or lifetimes, however, are often riddled with deeply held beliefs or conflicts and require ongoing attention and significant change to resolve.

How does your past shape what things mean to you in the present?

How do you influence whether your past creates a meaningful continuity of experience, or prejudices your experience of the present?

18 October 2016 4 Comments

Travel Experiences 5: Too Close to Living Bone

Travel Experiences 5: Too Close to Living Bone

Grasping below the knee to apply pressure, I stared at my shin in disbelief. A chunk of skin had been gouged out. And I think I was looking at the lining of my tibia before blood obscured my view. Stunned, I picked a bit of flesh from my sock, feeling weird about throwing a piece of myself onto the cobbles. (I’ll spare you the gory photo.)

Strangely detached, I observed my denial: “The bleeding will stop and I’ll be able to ride back,” and “It may hurt a bit, but I’ll need to get up the hill to the train.” Blood ran into my sock.

Still clutching the leg, I hobbled into the monastery office. The staff assumed and then dropped their “What-do-you-want—you-already-saw-the-place-and-we’re-about-to-close” faces as they got a look at my shocked face and bloody leg. I asked about bandages.

The woman pushed me onto a bench out front while the man rushed off and returned with a first aid kit. They were scary sober. They wanted to take me to the hospital. Fighting shock, I was not ready or able to decide. Stitches didn’t make sense if there was nothing to pull together. I needed to get back to town and regain my balance.

My helpers managed to cram the clunky bike into the back of a small station wagon and drove me within 500 feet of my hotel. There were too many tourists to get closer. I used the bike as a crutch. I hurt.

Somehow I got a cab to a pharmacy. They had no butterfly bandages, large bandages, or anything antibacterial. I left with an iodine solution to clean the wound, gauze, tape, and an over-the-counter pain killer.

I was starved by the time I got back. Tour groups were overwhelming the restaurant about eight feet from the front door of my hotel. They were booked until after 9 and said they would run out of food. No to-go options and they wouldn’t loan me a plate.

Fortunately that night happened to be my hotel splurge night—my only night with a view and a bathtub. And plates! The waiter relented. He would give me food if I brought a plate. Using handrails heavily, I brought a plate twenty minutes later. He filled it with fire roasted chicken from a cavelike hearth, and salad. I took a nice photo of the lovely view and meal.img_4562

After relaxing in the tub with my leg hanging out I put on my glasses and pealed off the bandage to get my first good look at the wound. To my horror, a big V of skin was pulling up my leg. The wound had torn as the skin retracted. This had to be stitched! I diluted iodine solution in a cup and washed the wound, shaky hands dropping the cup on the tile floor, which was peppered with shards. Bleeding again, cleaning the floor was out of the question. And I needed a scissors to cut gauze.

I tried to call the front desk. My phone didn’t work. There was no room phone. Arm over arm on the hand rails, I hobbled downstairs. No one was around.

Finally I knocked on the door across from mine. Two women who didn’t speak English gaped at me. I pantomimed cutting the gauze with a scissors. They conferred and offered me a nail clipper, which I declined. After much gesturing and conjecturing, the women realized that I needed help picking up the cup shards. They gave me four normal band aids, which I criss-crossed, pressing together the edges of torn flesh so they would be close enough to stitch come morning.

I emailed my healer and my spiritual Teacher, called my best friend via internet, and went to bed.

img_4589Although I hate hospitals, I almost enjoyed my visit to the Czech hospital. I was out of there in about half an hour, having spent forty euros to have the wound stitched up by two nice women in a bright, teal tiled room with high ceilings. They put in a drain and said I would need to return in two days to have it removed. They warned me that the injured area of the leg was known for getting bone necrosis. I was supposed to rest it.

I was grateful that I could hobble some, although the stitches pulled uncomfortably if I walked on uneven surfaces—like cobbles.

Did you ever feel as if part of you had planned ahead for something you didn’t know would occur, or that a difficult experience was part of your learning curve?

How do you feel about receiving help from strangers?

8 October 2016 2 Comments

Travel Experiences 4: Aggravation in Wonderland

Travel Experiences 4: Aggravation in Wonderland

My visit to Cesky Krumlov—the charming medieval storybook town I was the most drawn to visit—proved to be challenging and pivotal. Initial delight thinned and frayed as the cute, cobbled streets filled and practically cramped with multitudinous tour groups. Frustrated, by not being able to move freely or see through the heads, I felt a growing and airless sense of compression. I strategized, and planned a twenty kilometer bike trip, a big loop including a monastery, cable car, and long downhill return.

The early morning had been good. I had walked up beyond and above the town’s castles, museums, and viewpoints to a formal garden. Inventive fountains spouted water from numerous mouths and pitchers. A long hedge row converged in the distance, where I heard the strains of a classical concert.p1020564

I imagined what it must have been like to live in or visit at the castle, and the lavish parties that had been held here over the centuries. The land itself maintained the energy of celebration—an energy with which I have never been totally comfortable. I tend to work. Enjoying the energy in this lovely and refined venue, I asked my energy bodies to absorb it. I thought about the huge hoop skirts women wore, using their shape to bring energy up from the Earth. Masters of martial arts carry a skirt-like ring of powerful grounding. I asked to increase my grounding.

As I pulled together my intention to accept and ground the energy of celebration, I felt a surge upward. Energy shot up and blossomed about two hundred feet above my head. The sensation was surprising and blissful, yet left me with a feeling that something was incomplete, since I was aiming for additional grounding. My inner Guidance clearly said, “Now you will have to ground this.”

This unexpected comment arrested my attention. I sensed an undertone that made me question: ’Is that going to be okay?’ I felt a shade of consternation sense I realized I must agree to some kind of a process if I wanted to move forward. After a brief hesitation I assented. This seemed like something that would have a positive outcome.

I had a heck of a time finding the bike shop. This frustrating delay was nothing compared to trying to find the bike path, which was supposedly marked. The map was not useful. Looking for someone to point me in the right direction, I showed seven people, including two policemen, where the path started on the map. Three or four shut me out in an exaggerated manner that was actively hostile.

Europeans in general are not anxious for approval like so many Americans are. They have fewer compunctions about being brusk or expressing impatience with strangers. This behavior was of a different order. I got the distinct impression that the locals were reacting against a behavior I kept seeing in Japanese tour groups, who routinely and mechanically ignored others. Groups stood shoulder to shoulder, in no way acknowledging others. The only places I was hostilely ignored by Czechs were areas saturated by these tour groups. Locals whose living did not depend on the tourist industry had apparently hit load limit and begun to hurl it at tourists in general.

Almost in tears at this point, I was practically yelling “I hate this!” It was nearly two hours since I rented the bike to get away for space and peace, and I had yet to ride it out of the tiny town! I considered returning it, since there was no time left to ride the loop. I decided to go just to the monastery.

Having tried all the other nearby routes, I headed up the only road in the correct direction that I had yet to try. It was a steep hill with a lot of traffic. I had to push the bike.

Across the street a pretty businesswoman called out, suggesting that I’d be safer on her side of the street. As I joined her, she said that the route to the monastery was indeed poorly marked. She loved to ride bikes. If we stopped by her nearby home so she could change clothes she’d be happy to ride over with me, before returning to make dinner for her family. She seemed like an angel sent to help.img_4551

Soon we were riding along a shortcut through poplar woods and down a long hill to the monastery, where my travel angel said goodbye. The grounds seemed vaguely familiar. I walked though the orchard to relax and then took a tour inside. As I left, I stood on the bike pedal to get started up the hill. The front wheel of the bike turned and an uncovered fender screw bit into my shin.

How important is it to you to assign meaning or purpose to strange or difficult experiences?

Do you assign meaning quickly, using pre-defined structures of belief?

Are you comfortable remaining open to see whether or not vagaries of experience resolve into an organic sense of meaning?