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19 December 2014 3 Comments

An Odd Experience of Divine Love

An Odd Experience of Divine Love

If possible, please aim to suspend any preconceptions about what two words mean, so you can stay open to what I hope to be able to convey in this post. The two words are: “God” and “Love.” These words can be catch-alls and vague because people mean so many things when they use them. I’m trying to write about a particular experience, not a concept or belief. And I’m not trying to make you believe anything.

If it’s useful to have a sketchy sense of what I might mean by “God,” you could say I’m talking about “That Which Is.” In terms of direct personal experience, including energy, sensation, and emotion, there are innumerable points of access to expanded or transcendental EXPERIENCE.

For some months I have been doing breath meditations from my spiritual teacher. During one practice, I inhale The All Pervading Life in Space and exhale focus on and if possible dialing in the experience of love, then Divine Love, and then God’s love. It takes focus to evoke or pull through the real energetics instead going by concepts or imagination.

I found the “God’s Love” part most challenging. I had lots of reasons to find the words annoying. They didn’t give me access to direct experience. I did not want to make something up. I wanted to bring forth something real. I have experienced the vibration or energy frequency of quite a few different flavors or expressions of divine love such as divine forgiveness, divine compassion, an ever-expanding field of love, and so forth. As for the straight-up experience of God’s Love Itself, I couldn’t wrap myself around that to draw it forth into sensation and experience. I would have scraped the practice if I my teacher was one to blabber about an abstract concept without the energy to back it up. He’s not, and can bring forth all manner of wonderful flavors of Love at will, so I keep trying.

After a period of regularity with that and other practices, I had a spontaneous experience that fit the bill. This experience would have been easy to misinterpret or even to miss, but once I identified it as a direct expression of God’s Love I was in delight:

I was walking around my house about to leave to the grocery store. I might have been singing something. I had been listening to an excellent and engaging but brutal detective novel. My heart was open. I was feeling spunkyP1050291 and talking to myself in my head.

I heard something inside saying, “I LOVE all the villains (in the novel) and all the horrible things they do!” Then I recoiled a bit and thought that I rather hated them, that those sorts of people are in the world and cause problems and agony. But the characters were so well done and so interesting! Then I heard inside, “I LOVE those bad people in the world too. I LOVE everything they do!” And I felt a horror because the things they do are despicable.

But my heart was springing open, so I tested this experience of loving the unlovable, by thinking about the things I have always hated in myself, and in that state I was able to feel, “I LOVE that too!” No matter where I turned “my” attention for about ninety seconds, I felt total and unconditional Love and acceptance.

On later reflection, I realized that this state of being divinely detached enough to feel total Love and acceptance for the worst of the worst, without fear or the myriad of usual human (and necessary) concerns, was a real experience of God’s Love. It was like the sun, shining on All Things without differentiation, yet simultaneously valuing them each in their uniqueness. In that state felt no fear. Everything was what is was in its own right, for its own mysterious, wonderful, awe-full SUCHNESS. Obviously this was not rational or logical or politically correct or even especially human—but it felt absolutely wonderful and it was a lot of fun.

I hope my words convey something real. I find it so annoying to hear this and that about “God’s Love” and be unable to imagine what that might really mean.

I do not believe I could recreate this experience intentionally. Perhaps sometime it will visit itself upon me again. Or perhaps I will have a totally different experience that I fits with the words “God’s Love.” I don’t know. I do not want to grasp or assume or make anything up. I will say, however, that the surprising, totally free, unconditioned, wonder of being able to feel Love not only despite but even FOR all the things that I usually recoil from or judge was like a fresh breath of life-giving air.

Do YOU remember a time when your concepts about something were uprooted by an actual experience?

How do concepts about what you should be feeling impact your ability to experience life?

26 September 2014 1 Comment

Managing Your Energy, Part 21: Dances with Groups, Part 6: Fruits of Energy Cultivation

Managing Your Energy, Part 21: Dances with Groups, Part 6: Fruits of Energy Cultivation

(Continued . . .)

At the close of the retreat we again sent blessings to one another, and customized them. We were then asked to communicate blessings as completely as possible without using words–in the space of two breaths, before moving to another partner.

To my delight I saw that I was about to pair with B.. Of course, at that point I’m thinking that I’m glad I’ve done a bit of breath training, so I can lengthen those two breaths! Picking my brain as usual, B. stepped up and took two half-second breaths, just to make me laugh. The intimacy of non-verbal humor is one of the greatest joys!

We met soul to soul, smiling, and tracking one another’s breath and energy. In our shared space, we brought our energy way up and out, expanding into bliss but staying grounded, then we washed it from above down and around us into the earth. This experience was vivid, and keen in the moment. It was a delight to share a pure Love, intuitive connection and play.

IMG_0132As always, the group ended by sending the concentrated energy we had generated together and the results of this Work out to All Beings.

Accepting compassion, healing, Love, and blessings makes it possible to serve others without draining ourselves. We all need activities in our lives that allow us to reinvigorate, inspire, and heal ourselves.

Over the course of the retreat L. had marshaled and crafted the energy of the group, sweetening and focusing it. She tenderized and stretched our hearts, then built clean power. And when this power began to crest and flower, banked it back and softened it so it would stay internal instead of spending itself in full expression.

For the group, full participation required resilient silence to maintain the energy and attunement, grounded Presence, synchronization of movement and intention, and a heart-full willingness to surrender the unimportant or irrelevant for a more global shared outcome.

Through breath, through tuning our instruments and voices, through rhythm, through the glance, through trust, and through loving discipline we achieved an extraordinary atmosphere, charged with Love and able to hold all that is human. Listening carefully to change our intonation, volume, movement and expression simultaneously helped hone the group’s ability to shift in a few heartbeats from laughter to the sweet sobriety of sincere and dedicated focus. In moments of inner silence, singing or chanting and moving together felt like being one of the arms of a sea anemone in a gentle ocean of love.

Our acceptance of death, suffering, and global realities, I believe, made the experiences I had possible. Wholeness and total acceptance do not blossom from a standpoint of denial or resistance. Saccharin approaches bring up cynicism for me, as they charge the shared atmosphere with whatever we deny. Purifying the heart by releasing judgment and finding ways to come to love within the realities of life is a more challenging but rewarding process.

Three sassy horses stood by the neighbor’s fence as I left the monastery after the retreat. They looked like they were waiting for me. I had a big fat apple on my passenger seat, which was odd since I usually don’t like apples. I stopped my van and bit off big chunks to parse it out, setting a few on a fence post for one beastie who was so eager I thought I might lose a hand.

Longing for new territory, I headed home through some mountains, finding my map and directions sadly lacking. I pulled over in the middle of nowhere, unsure whether to turn on a forest service road. Within two minutes a ranger happened to drive up. He showed me the way and gave me his own copy of an enormous forest service map. I headed home full and happy.

What do YOU do to fill yourself when life has taken too much of you?

Where do you allow yourself the freedom to be your real self?

19 September 2014 4 Comments

Managing Your Energy, Part 20: Dances with Groups, Part 5: Forgiveness & Blessing

Managing Your Energy, Part 20: Dances with Groups, Part 5: Forgiveness & Blessing

(Continued . . .)

Forgiveness and blessing soften, open and release stuck energy.

The next day the retreat group did a Forgiveness Practice, eye to eye, singing: “Please forgive me, for all that I have done and all that I have not done. Please forgive me.” It could have been hokey. The beauty of the music and sincerity of the group made it powerful.

L. encouraged us to approach and sing to anyone in the room who we needed to clear something with, or to allow someone to stand in for a person in our lives or our hearts. Tears came up here and there around the room.

Contemplating this song, my best formulation of what many of us need to say to our best Selves would be: “Please help me to forgive myself for not forgiving myself for all that I am going to do or not do next.”

While a bit lawyerly, this formulation covers that niggling sense that if we forgive ourselves in this moment we might not still be quite up to forgiving ourselves later, and may find ourselves doing the same darned thing!

P1070156We need to be able to let ourselves move forward despite shortcomings in not yet being able to sustain our ideals. We need to be willing to forgive ourselves when we fall back. Then can we move forward with the confidence that we can return to grace again if we fall.

Most of the day we did prayerful song with movement–like the one I shared in Part 1, but varying widely in type, intention, and tone.

We shared blessings later that afternoon, starting with some standard blessings: “May you be well and happy. May you be free from pain. May you live in peace. May you return to Love.” After warming up to it we began making blessings up for the person in front of us, giving and receiving, then moving on to someone else. I challenged myself to craft blessings that perfectly fit the inner longing of the person in front of me, such as:

“May you find yourself always around people you can trust, who understand you so you can be totally silly and get to play in joy,” or “May you be recognized for your lovely and unusual gift of congruence between your body, movements, emotions, thoughts and energy.”

The second one brought tears, and the woman later said she had been hoping all her life that someone would notice that about her. It’s an amazing intimacy to connect soul to soul without knowing someone’s personality. We had never spoken with one another before. Her response speaks to how vital it is for us to be ‘seen.’

I had another profound experience that evening. The group, in a long line, doubled back on itself, snaking through the room so some of us would pass face to face. The fleeting glance of one man astonished and transported me. Faster than thought, my heart literally rocked in my chest. I was riveted, yet we had already passed.

What I felt was The Beloved. This had nothing to do with the man as a personality or a body. He was so Present, inwardly silent, and connected to Source that the Divine shone through him at that moment.

I felt a brief confusion. Yes, I wanted the moment back–and forever–but this flash of feeling had nothing to do with anything that could survive a moment of grasping. This was the mystical experience of longing for the Divine. There was no where to look for it but to cultivate it inside myself.

To have mastery over our energy requires assessing our experiences accurately. We are safe to open to deep feeling when we trust our perception and therefore our decisions.

Is there anyone YOU need to forgive, or to receive forgiveness from?

How does thinking about this impact your energy?

29 October 2010 1 Comment

What IS Positive Energy? Part 8: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 3

What IS Positive Energy? Part 8: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 3

Hyper-positive postures often spring up from exposure to popularized belief systems. Catchy insights or techniques are taken out of context from the entirety of the teaching.

Initially, taking on the new beliefs represents an exciting period of rapid personal growth and insight. As Sept 07 Alberta 5 223a belief system forms it is a force for Awakening. As soon as we crystalize and codify it into set ways we have to BE, the very tenants that promoted growth and insight essentially entrap the soul in a web of assumptions and opinions. Discovery and Awakening have been replaced by codified behavior.

This rapid growth spurt calls to mind over-fertilized plants. Plants that receive chemical fertilizers lack the micronutrients and microorganisms that occur with nutrients in nature. They grow rapidly but the growth is weak and flimsy, breaking easily because the cell structures are not adequately supported. These sappy plants attract insects and require pesticides. Organic structures are much stronger, support themselves effectively, and draw fewer insects.

Expansion without the balancing force of contraction can lead to debt, inflation, weight-gain, weakness, and so forth.

We need limits, boundaries, and contrast to create resilient structures and beliefs that weather the vicissitudes of life.

Part of being positive is learning to recognize and accept our limitations, even as we seek to move beyond them.

Nothing is “wrong”with hyper-positive behavior. It is a resting place along The Path. Limited growth is available in all stuck states, whether our defenses are hyper-positive, overtly negative, or overly rational to the point of being cut off from feeling. At some life junctures, limited growth and the feeling of safety and validation provided by limiting beliefs may be all we can manage.

States of balance, grace, joy, clarity, discernment, wisdom, love, peace, and ease thrive on perspective. We do not attain them by avoiding life but by learning to be strong yet flexible in the midst of life. Staking a tree tightly so wind cannot move it keeps its root system from developing to support it against wind. Bouts of experience with difficult states and emotions develop depth of soul when we can successfully navigate them.

Thomas Moore, a theologian, gracefully addresses and goes so far as to extol the value of periods of depression or insanity in his classic book, “Care of the Soul.”

The biblical words “Resist not evil”do not mean to get involved with it. They point to the fact that resistance is an energetic form of involvement. Resistance is attachment. A positive focus does not offer resistance. The most powerful creative states generate intention and focus attention without reference to opposites. This is different from denying or resisting the opposites.

Another spiritual leader, Meher Baba said, “Let despair and disappointment ravage the garden of your heart. You will revivify it once again with the seedlings of self-sufficiency and contentment.” He went on to add, “Life never is, never was, and never will be anybody’s Beloved.”

This quote is strong medicine–but useful for the times we are living in, when structures we have built up seem like so many card houses. We are bigger than what we build! The quote points to the fact that allowing ourselves to feel even the most difficult of feelings leads to a re-enlivening of the heart, and a resurrection of inner strength. Holding in and holding back powerful feeling can dull the heart and waste the precious moments we share on this green planet.

Through storms and disease I lost the four largest trees around my home. It took time, but I am finally happy Sept 07 Alberta 5 131to nurture young trees, taking delight in their growth instead of merely missing the stately trees I enjoyed before. We cannot stop life from offering disappointments. What we can do is to keep our hearts alive by accepting pain. We can practice gratitude and stay open to delight. And we can keep planting.

The poet and master Rumi said, when you go into the river to avoid the fire you find yourself standing in the flames. And when you walk directly into flames you find yourself floating in cool water.
(If you know the location or title of this poem please let me know.)

“What YOU’RE looking for is unendurable pleasure, indefinitely prolonged!” Sufi Leader Joe Miller

22 October 2010 5 Comments

What IS Positive Energy? Part 7: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 2

What IS Positive Energy? Part 7: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 2

Sept 07 Alberta 2 022Hyper-positive behavior, based on either/or thinking (See part 2) is not actually positive. What I am talking about is acting as if strident denial of anything that can remotely be considered negative is spiritual, perhaps seeking to impose this view on others. Resisting negativity or making a big show to others about how to be more positive is reactive posturing. It is also annoying.

Hyper-Positive behaviors involve the third definition of positive as “certain.” They involve over-certainty, which becomes rigid.

A hyper-positive stance is a generally a defensive stance. Hyper-positive posturing defends against emotions the individual fears will overtake them, plunging them into unmanageable states. It is a means of control.

There is always something fishy about excess conviction. Something is driving it. I am not talking about solid inner knowing. Experience-based understanding is a lovely achievement. I am talking about rigidity of belief, bolstered by resisting something perceived as a threat, something inside, or in the world.

These following issues are not exclusive to but can be aggravated by a hyper-positive stance:

  • Fear of your own thoughts and feelings
  • Suppression and denial
  • Fear or judgment of anyone who does not uphold similar viewpoints
  • Veiled moralistic superiority over persons considered negative
  • Lack of integration
  • Perfectionism
  • Harsh self-judgment when compassion is called for
  • Lack of discernment for fear of thinking the wrong things
  • Being out of touch with personal motivations
  • Inability to realistically assess risks
  • Use of platitudes that bolster parroted beliefs instead of observing life directly and allowing meaning to occur as an organic experience from within
  • Habitual over-commitment with less than optimal follow through
  • Making assumptions about what events mean without tapping into actual intuitive perception
  • Deciding what things mean for other people, which is a boundary invasion

Different personalities will express different clusters of these patterns. Very few exhibit them all.

Experiencing painful or difficult emotions is human, not negative. Judging and condemning them IS.

Looking at risks realistically is not negative. Refusal to acknowledge risks may leave you unprepared to overcome them.

If you are intuitive and sensitive, it’s especially easy to feel shame if you are around hyper-positive posturing. Sensitive people often feel the shame that others suppress, and mistake it for our own. Take care not to get drawn in and feel like you’re a negative person if you spend time around someone with a hyper-positive stance.

What have you observed and experienced hyper-positive states, in yourself, or in others?

Sept 07 Alberta 2 031

15 October 2010 4 Comments

What IS Positive Energy? Part 6: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 1

What IS Positive Energy? Part 6: Hyper-Positive Posturing, Part 1

Do your beliefs help you explore life or shut down exploration and growth with pat answers?

Sept 07 Alberta 2 273This is the first of three posts that dive into and dissect beliefs and attitudes many of us have come to consider positive–just because the people who talk about them believe they are positive.

As a free thinker I am keenly interested in the difference between what we take to be positive based on social conditioning or defensive reaction, and what proves to be of constructive benefit, creating salutary and lasting life results. I have seen far too many lovely, positive people imagine they are negative because they recoil from what I call Hyper-Positive Posturing.

From natural medicine we understand that suppressing symptoms with drugs does not result in the state we call health. Neither does suppressing negative emotion and thoughts result in truly positive states.

Social media can leave us bobbing in a virtual sea of ultra-positive messages. Over-exposure to these messages causes a baffling backlash. The effect adds up to feeling that something is wrong with us unless we radiate joy in every moment. An army of enthusiasts waits at the ready with one-and-only buy-it-now solutions to every imaginable type of discomfort. Pain sells products. Marketing plays on pain, needs, and desires.

A profusion of these messages builds up the following feelings:

  • Something is wrong with you.
  • Something is wrong with feeling.
  • Something is wrong with your life if you aren’t in a state of bliss.

Please look at the entire world and contemplate what life is like instead of competing with the few people you admire or envy. Comfort and wealth do not confer happiness or purpose.

Genuine inspiration differs vastly from enthusiasm generated with the intention of hooking someone to sell something—including comforting belief systems that lull us to sleep instead of waking us up.

Indulge me by letting me dissect a few platitudes:

“Everything works out for the best.” This depends when you stop the movie. The movie goes on after you stop shooting.

“Everything happens for a reason.” This presupposes not only that we can insert meaning mechanically into any situation without stopping to FEEL it, and that being able to rationalize a situation is important.Sept 07 Alberta 2 291Carolyn Myss in “Entering the Castle”gets all over this one with mercilessly compassionate clarity. Way too often we hold faith hostage to intellectual understanding. Needing to understand with the mind in order to accept or before we can move foward is a spiritual stumbling block.

“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” This quote is by Wayne Dyer. At first pass the message in this quote is great. Yes. We are accountable for and sustain our end of all interactions. Our participation influences what goes on around us. Great insights. So why do I pick on this even though the insights are useful? The quote can be taken to imply that conflict is bad. (See Inner Work Part 8: Inner Conflict And Transformation and 9: How To Benefit from Inner Conflict)

Whether or not conflict is useful depends on how we engage it. I am suggesting that instead of starving out conflict by refusing to participate we first take a look to see whether we can learn from it and turn it to an asset. I’m certain Wayne would agree.

As a champion for Wholeness, and Awakening, I am not criticizing Wayne or making anybody wrong. I aim to stimulate discernment, clarity, and free thought. Noticing how input or impressions impact us and being able to think outside the box are crucial to freeing ourselves from social conditioning. Choosing what we take in and believe supports self-actualization.

Inspiring quotes can be shared and received cleanly and clearly–or used to bolster Pollyanna rhetoric that puts us to sleep and stops discernment. Of course, any particular influence supports people at some levels of development and represents a step backward for others. Pay attention to the whether the influences you are exposed to contribute to you your next step on your Path or simply layer on more assumptions about life.

“A man’s most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe.”
~Greek playwright Euripides (485-406 B.C.)

How do YOU respond to the quotes you hear? Do you think about the way their messages impact you, or take them as truth without reflecting?

8 October 2010 2 Comments

What IS Positive Energy? Part 5: What Are You Ready to Receive?

What IS Positive Energy? Part 5: What Are You Ready to Receive?

What we perceive and experience as positive depends on what we are ready to receive. Has someone ever loved you more than your self-esteem could tolerate? It’s an awkward and painful experience bumping up against the parts of us that feel unworthy.

Sept 07 Alberta 3 103How difficult it generally is for many of us to be around people we love and admire without feeling keenly our own limitations and inadequacies! And this is just the psycho-social part. Add intense influxes of positive energy and these challenges are intensified.

Straight-on energy of divine love can be unendurable for long periods unless one has done a great deal of Inner Work. The same super-positive energy that in small doses makes followers blissful can bring about excruciatingly painful states in large doses.

I have witnessed secretaries and assistants to high-energy, advanced spiritual leaders. Behind the scenes these support staff were at times in tears as intense spiritual energy penetrated the darkness of their deepest issues, bringing these to light. Ego and identity limitations arise and begin to crumble. This was a totally positive thing—but painful.

Interaction with highly-charged spiritual people over periods of time when they are not presenting to the public is enlightening. They can be tiger-intense and passionately challenging. They may slay your sacred cows, disrupt your sense of identity, and make silly human mistakes. Their energy is highly positive. This does NOT mean that what comes up inside you will feel good. Even loving monks and rinpoches tire of the saccharine assumptions of overly serious followers. I have heard of them hiding water pistols in their robes and shooting followers mid-question to break up rigidity.

Ideals meant to inspire can stimulate a backlash of feeling wrong or bad when we cannot live up to them. Sept 07 Alberta 3 102Ego-surges of righteous pride can crop up when feel proud about what we know. Whether or not we experience one as negative and the other as positive, both tendencies are obstacles to an Awakened state. And both tendencies can be used to Wake Up through self-observation. Skill at neutral observation is essential to access non-ego states of awareness–which are supremely positive; blissful.

During lengthy life phases of full involvement and conviction in specific mystical orders and spiritual groups I made it a practice in my professional life to prevent imposing personal beliefs and convictions on clients. Belief systems are highly personal and can also be fragile.

Through the internet we now receive thousands of messages that tell us what to believe. These messages come whether or not we are ready to take them in and think them out. More than ever before we have access to different beliefs and can choose input that resonates with our inner knowing.

What are YOU ready and able to receive and integrate?

What brings you the most personal sense of meaning and purpose? What makes that positive?

24 September 2010 9 Comments

What IS Positive Energy? Part 3: Moving Beyond Opposites

What IS Positive Energy? Part 3: Moving Beyond Opposites

Sept 07 Alberta 2 289Words can easily trap us into either/or thinking. (See Part 1.) I recently saw a video encouraging people to consider whether we are direct and harsh or indirect and compassionate toward others. Having spent years cultivating the combination of being direct AND compassionate, I took objection. Being indirect is not necessarily considerate. It can stem from weakness just as easily as from grace, and can cause confusion. The video made excellent and useful points. I am not tossing it out, just adding an important footnote.

Do not be seduced by wording that presents either/or choices like voting for the lesser of evils or “Have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife” conundrums. Life is almost always ‘multiple choice’—even if you have to write in your own choices. Dump black and white and go for fuchsia, teal, and indigo. Life has an amazing palette. Live in full color! Keep your options open for wholeness.

Let’s take a larger perspective. From an all-embracing perspective, all energy is positive. It is ultimately positive to embrace All, orienting ourselves within circumstances to make the best use of them.

When we try to talk about positive experience with non-polar language (see Part 1) we find ourselves left with abstract words like “wholeness” or super-charged words like “love.” Note that Love is wholly positive only when we mean it in its non-dual, all-embracing sense. Love that is the opposite of hate may contain sticky attachment, desire, neediness, possessiveness, and so forth, aimed at the things we prefer. All-embracing Love requires and refers to an expanded heart-centered state of acceptance, unity, and grace.

Seeking words that embrace and unite the limiting opposites gets more and more abstract as it rises above day-to-day experience. Words like God show up.

But now someone will throw the Devil in the mix in order to get an opposite for God-the-All-Embracing. This penchant for insisting on an opposite maintains the mentality of polarity.

Yes, polarity is real. Right now, we’re talking about moving past it. States beyond polarity are also real.

I believe that something in the Cosmos is Beyond all these opposites, holding It All together, and that we come closer to accessing the loving state of clarity that accepts life fully by releasing the tendency to think in opposites alone.

One of the chief aims for any method designed to expand awareness is coming to comprehend life as an integrated and beautiful whole, beyond and above this reflex of splitting life and perception into opposing polarities.

Polarities serve to wake us up through experience. Polarities offer us the possibility of discernment through contrast. They assist us to see the differences between things and to learn to make choices that further our aims.

Opposites are processes. Unity is the ultimate goal.

In the world of choices and polarity, whether energy has a positive, negative or neutral effect depends on what we DO with it and whether we CAN embrace it. Like dissonance in music, unpleasant and difficult energies stimulate awareness and promote clarity–when we are able to put them to use.

In much the same way that super-healthy foods can cause a health crisis in those with toxic diets, anSept 07 Alberta 2 269intense dose of angelic energies may provoke challenging reactions in those who are not prepared for an acceleration of awareness. The dynamics between polarities, including balance/neutrality, form the dance of life. When we see life as a process of discovery and possibility, almost any experience can be put to positive use.

Note: I am not denying or minimizing horrific experiences that are shattering. I am just saying that in our daily lives we can almost always discover ways to orient ourselves that allow us to find even difficult experience useful.

Even total positive energy can have an effect we consider negative if we are not able to embrace it.

All energy is good if we are equipped to put it to good use.

How have YOU turned energies or experiences that you used to judge or dislike into allies?

17 September 2010 4 Comments

What IS Positive Energy? Part 2: The Shadows of Words

What IS Positive Energy? Part 2: The Shadows of Words

Our use of words and the associations they stimulate within us bias the way we experience life.

Sept 07 Alberta 5 076I’ve been searching for words that describe positive, finding the exercise surprisingly difficult. What I find challenging is that I want to bring forth positive without accidentally supporting the kind of value judgments that cause us to suppress or deny parts of ourselves by calling them negative. The “positive” I am pointing to is not the opposite of negative, but a way of Being that embraces life fully, discovering benefit even through difficult experience.

Let’s look at some of the bias on the word “positive.”

English does not distinguish “positive” as a polarity/energy charge from “positive” as a value judgment of something we judge as “good.” Both uses of the word exist in relation to their opposites; it is difficult to think or say the word positive without automatically pitting it against negative.

I say “pitting it” because the automatic habit that brings up the opposite is rarely countered by considering other options.

Is the south pole of a magnet or the negative pole of a battery any less useful, necessary, clean, constructive, powerful, optimistic or salutary than the north or positive pole? Of course not. Polarities exist ONLY in relationship to one another–as equals. They cannot be separated. When we hear the word “positive” both opposites spring to mind; usually a polarity in which one is good and the other is bad.

A third definition of positive is “certain.” “I am positive it will be done.” I’ll follow this through later in this post sequence.

Opposites show up as if we have an either/or choice between them. “Good” carries the shadow of “bad,” just as “positive” carries the shadow of “negative.” Like a reflex, judging follows, however subtly.

A third possibility is neutrality—although we tend to pit this against positive or negative. So when we consider neutrality in this context our associations may run to indifference, apathy, flatness, or absence of feeling.

Sept 07 Alberta 5 033Neutrality can be beneficial. When separated from the idea of positive and negative, neutrality is more likely to indicate openness, balance, clarity, and objectivity. Neutrality about whether things might be positive or negative allows us to see those people, behaviors and events without prejudice. Now we can observe those people, behavior and events in the moment and make open-minded choices regarding them instead of making assumptions.

Conflict, for example, can be handled as a positive, as discussed in prior posts. If we assume that conflict—or anything else for that matter–is negative we are not likely to put it to constructive use. This is one of the many reasons that polarizing experience into good and bad is so limiting. Either/or grossly limits optimization of experience.


Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all.       -Buddha

Know any words that imply ultimate “positive” without the burden of polarity? Please share.

How do YOU perceive or describe the difference between “positive” as an opposite and “positive” as all-embracing Life?

10 September 2010 10 Comments

What IS Positive Energy? Part 1: Clearing a Path

What IS Positive Energy? Part 1: Clearing a Path

Glamour, hype, and glitter surround the topic of positive energy. This repels pragmatic people. They may observe the antics, inflated optimism, and glee of the newly-spiritual or of brand new Reiki practitioners the way a cowboy might regard a child with a bouquet of balloons, taking an enthusiastic stroll in Pipe Cactus National Monument.

The words positive and energy call to mind spirituality as well as healing. Separate these topics if you prefer, Sept 07 Alberta 3 155and disregard the one you like less. I lump them because extensive experience with energy begs the question of spirituality, and profound spirituality usually confers direct experience of energy. Un-lumping energy from spirituality is generally—in my opinion—a courtesy to the non-spiritual reader.

I have another idea. My idea is to present you with a way of looking at spirituality that doesn’t irritate the thinking person. It is not my way to twist myself into a pretzel just to play apologist for the hyper-rational. That’s not what I mean. I’m talking about approaching the topic without the container of a specific belief system that you have to buy into to be on board with the conversation. For example, I’m not planning to tell you that you have to be nice constantly, fan the fires of materialistic frenzy, or recommend one-size-fits-all solutions that you have to be someone else to apply.

I was a stubborn skeptic early on. Life had to prove itself to me. Experiences with energy and with spirituality had to impose themselves on me for me to take notice. Impose they did! I have had a vast number and variety of experiences that I would have initially rolled my eyes about if I had read them instead of having them myself.

My clients also present me with experiences with which they are attempting to come to grips. No matter how these experiences are interpreted and no matter what belief system one might approach them with, some simply don’t fit in the bag. They stick out though the fabric of whatever container you might select, shining, searing, flashing or ripping through to thud like an anvil at our feet.

As an empirical (pragmatic and experience-based) thinker, it has been my fate to re-craft my belief system over and over until what I have left is somewhere between not having a system at all and the card catalog in a vibrant library.

Perhaps it is a bit odd that I haven’t then sought to lose myself in a spiritual haze, hopping from galaxy to galaxy. I respect meditation. My way has always been practical application in daily life. As a thinker and purposeful person, one belief that remains steady is that we have work to do. Not to validate ourselves—our worth is a given, whether or not we are intact enough to feel it.

Our work is to bring ourselves to the moment with the type of attention that makes the moment meaningful—from the inside. We appreciate our time here by bringing value to it.

Many find that gratefulness helps. I love that path but it is not my own. It depends so heavily on the ability to feel a certain way on demand. For me this presents a problem.

If I tell a client in despair to simply feel grateful s/he will merely feel judged. My path is to learn through direct sensing and experience how to stay open to life, using whatever inner resources we have at theSept 07 Alberta 3 181moment to really BE here. As much as I love different paths and expressions of life energy, this is the one core element that can give the ordinary person purchase to meaning in any moment s/he remembers to attend.

Love? Yes, it is glorious. Who among us can make it happen—authentically—in any given moment? It’s a wonderful aim, but it is through learning to accept ourselves moment by moment that we become capable of feeling love without sending disregarded parts of ourselves scurrying for cover. Any part we leave behind will become problematic. (I cover this topic in depth in the post series on Inner Work.)

Rule of thumb: If you cannot sustain it in your daily life it doesn’t work for you.

Rule of forefinger: If you have to be someone other than yourself to do it, it is not for you.

Rule of middle finger: If you think you can change your identity you’re in for a wild ride. I engage in profound transformation and have written a great deal about identity. Even to alter it you need to be authentic. AND although you can radically change how you think of yourself and your behavior, your core nature remains the same.

I have a real problem here. I want to discuss positive energy with you and I keep running into walls of preconceptions about what it means to be positive. Bear with me in the following posts while I dismantle preconceptions, so we can meet on the same page. I’ve had to learn a good bit about positive energy to survive. After chewing on this topic for years, I believe I can offer you useful insights.