Listen first, then listen again, then some more, and then decide to be quiet

10858497_10153095268990850_7376995795256107858_nAll my life my mom used to say “you need to learn to listen”, at which time I became royally offended and hated my mom and thought she was the enemy.

In a way she was– judgmental and negative, but she was right about my needing to listen.

Not sure to what, but after she passed I found out how important listening was.  Listening to something besides my relentless  self recriminations .

Virtually anything I listen to (or read, for in the act of reading I am speaking the author’s words in my head) is better than what I call Ms. Bad-Sad–that default feeling/thought/voice track in my head and heart.

That is because the original dysfunctional messages are there for time immemorial – no matter how much I know about enlightenment, NLP, Jungian approaches, and dozens of other tools for transcending a mentally ill family mind-set.

This bad sad mind track is only harmful if it goes unnoticed.  And once noticed it is only bad if I try to deny or argue with it or mask it over with “positive thinking”.  It is most beneficial when I accept it for what it is and is not:

What it is  – old messages and attitudes from a mentally ill upbringing.

What it is not – the deciding factor in who I am, how I feel, or what I can achieve.

But it is there, period.  It is possible to befriend and peacefully co-exist with Ms. Bad-Sad, provided I  start of every single day listening to things that quiet her:

Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen–

–to songs, meditations, books on tape, written materials, and people when available,  that are evolved, kind, accepting, and affirming of my pure desire and deservedness of love, fun, and high self-regard.

Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen…

to the love within me, my need for love, and my capacity to be, give and receive love.

This goes against my resident crepe hanger voice – since human loving kindness and love between people was declared (albeit silently by actions and attitudes) nonexistent by my mentally ill family, unless in the framework of traditional religion.

Listen – to my inner wise self, hidden beneath the daily barrage – my solid and ageless self, aligned with  all the love and motivation in the entire universe

So today, I begin, late but I do begin, by listening, quietly, silently… to loving, kind, self-accepting messages, letting them soak into me.

Right now I hear a book on tape called Ask and It is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks.  Tomorrow I will play Shakti Gawain’s guided visualizations.  It can be anything, as long as the message is allowed to exist in the deep recesses of the mind/heart/soul.  That is why you writers and artists out there need to keep producing, because there can never be too many life-affirming loving and kind books, poems, songs, stories, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, t-shirts, art and craft gizmos…the more there are, the more they will outweigh the hateful, superstitious, false, fear based, or apathetic books, articles, shows and songs out there.

Every morning I will read,  play, and especially sing messages that give me the choice,  all over again, to declare I am not Ms Bad-Sad–she is just a roommate, and that I deserve a good life, success, friends and fun.

Why “Never Talk To Strangers” is a wrong-headed idea

I heard a public service announcement on my public radio station today, the jist of which was be sure to tell your children to never talk to strangers.

Wait!  What???

Since most of the people a child sees any given day (if they live in a metro area) would be people they have never met, that means they are being taught to go around purposely ignoring and treating as threatening almost every other human being they see in the course of their day.

We need to teach children that there is that one nut that will hurt or abduct you.   But what about teaching them SKILLS….

the SKILLS they need to relate to people, meet new people, and navigate each encounter?

I agree in general that CHILDREN don’t need to talk to strangers, but their PARENTS definitely should.  But I typically observe that the parents avoid contact with strangers too, because they are trying to model the behavior they want from their children–and in the process, adults all over the country are ignoring, treating as dangerous. the very people that could become friends, spouses, leads to new jobs or business (if self employed)…  This is complete lunacy!

Parents are the role models.  So what if they model street wise behavior…and model the idea—to use an old cliche–that “A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.”

Parents can model common streetwise intelligence–how to determine if any given person is safe to talk to:   things like, where is this occurring –a dark alley or a safe place?  And is the person acting appropriately, making eye contact (but not too much) and so on..

What I see are young parents completely isolated from others in a hostile (not) world, ensconcing their children in their apron strings…

…  Both adults and children need the street wise skills to make their way in the world;  skills that are a complete enigma because of this ludicrous blanket admonition of “never talk to strangers”.

So, show your kids HOW to relate to each stranger in a smart fashion, let them begin to practice talking to strangers while you are present, and as they get older, armed with streetwise-ness, encourage them to go out alone with that old cliche:

“A stranger is (might be) just a friend you haven’t met yet.”

Thank You for considering this important concept.  Have a friendly day.

Trella

Taking Care of Each Other for Valentine’s and Every Day

cut cats in love
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY

So is it just too much to ask that we save the world? It IS a lot…

Reading Pema Chodron this day before Valentines day the book opened to a page on the “Second Commitment–Taking Care of One Another”…And the chapter called “Beyond Our Comfort Zone”…

From the Book “Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change”

“…if we long to alleviate suffering, what can we do?  For one thing, we can invite everybody and open the door to them all, but open the door only briefly at first.    We open it only for as long as we’re currently able to and give ourselves permission not to close it when we become too uncomfortable.  However, our aspiration  is always to open the door again and …keep it open for a few seconds longer than the time before.   The results may be surprising.  In opening the door gradually, not tying to  throw it open all at once, we get used to the shaky feeling …(of) people we can’t quite handle coming to the party.   Rather than thinking, I have to open the door completely or I’m not doing it right, we start with the intention to keep opening that door , and  bit by bit, we tap into a reservoir of inner strength and courage that we never knew we had…intention to take off our mask, to face our fears….I once asked Dzigar Kongtrul about this….yes, I still have those feelings, but they don’t catch me.  He is, it seems, NO LONGER AFRAID OF FEAR.  

Those raw feelings  can even inspire us to action.  When asked if he had any regrets, the Dali Lama said he felt responsible for the death of an elderly monk that came to him for guidance.   When asked how he had dealt with that feeling of regret, how he had gotten rid of it, he said he didn’t get rid of it.  It’s still there, but it no longer drags him down.  It has motivated him to keep working to benefit people in every way he can.”

Love and being in a relationship is not the sexy thing Hollywood leads us to believe… but it can be so much more, and better, than the Hollywood version.

Taking care of someone is not so…sexy.  They are sick, they are mentally ill (at times) and you just have to hang in there….but they are not ALWAYS sick or ALWAYS messed up in the head…so hang in there.  it is better than throwing them away and starting all over again …and you know, if you are younger you may think there is one perfect one and just try to find a better model, but they are all broken and damaged so you better just work on the one ya got.  Happy Valentines day.

Charile Haden: You have the history of the world within you. To improvise is to tap into it!

This short talk by great bassist Charlie Haden sums up what I believe about music.  In another interview he says that he plays and records as often as he can to “further the cause” of spreading this deep spirituality.   He explains that each time  someone listens to him play they absorb some of this amazing and enlightened version of what it is to be human.  A version of what is possible to be – when our focus is on loving kindness  beauty, creative pursuits and sharing of all that is pure gold in the human spirit through the history of the ages.

This reminds me of the teaching of Carl Jung about the collective unconscious, that we are all one and not contained within our physical beings….we are so much more that than.  We are not our body, as Depak Chopra said in one of his audio books, you are not this tiny speck in the universe–the entire universe is WITHIN YOU.  You need only to be aware that it is there, allow it to flow through you.  You give up being individual, in a sense, but you don’t loose your sanity, you just walk within the all that is…

Please enjoy Charlie Haden!

The ocean shows me one-ness: This is what I think of while enjoying the waves, sky, sand, birds, plants, cliffs…

The ocean is so vast.  The vastness of all that is–being so huge as it is– does not mean that we are insignificant (i.e. so tiny in comparison to the vast infinity that we don’t matter). Instead, it gives us HUGE significance, to know that in the infinite cosmos, we are the only ones (that we have seen so far) with water, love, flowers, dogs…it means we “hit the jackpot”.

…and we are not in some desolate place with no trees, no dogs, no cats, no sex, no water, no LIFE…. We are the only ones with LIFE and our human habit is– instead of appreciating all this–to suffer by hating people, being scared, thinking every moment about past pain, or fear of pain we may feel in the future, and WE MISS OUR PERFECT HUMAN STATE OF ALIVENESS IN WHICH THERE IS NO SUFFERING. There is no suffering in the here and now. The suffering in only from

  1. Remembering and feeling pain about the past,  or judging and finding fault with the past (I didn’t do good enough, they didn’t respect me…), or from thinking the past was so magic and great and now life sucks in comparison.
  2. Thinking of the future –worrying about it, or doing things (work, paying penance etc.) that we believe will give us happiness at some later time, thinking there is no way to have happiness without doing all these other things first.

We can notice  how vast “all that is” is, and notice that we won the statistically impossible – like that one in a million who get to be a movie star – We won Earth.

Earth is the “movie star” among all the planets and the infinite cosmos, and we have this amazing place–a dream come true of delicious food,fresh fruit,  breathing,  seeing colors, feeling the warmth of the sun, hearing/making great music, laughter, the sound of one another’s voices articulating the beauty of being human, and yet we hang around smack dab in the middle of this heaven we call earth, at this amazing miraculous event called life, and we hate, fear, worry, and conjure up awful versions of what is around us, rather than concentrating on the  999 percent that is all solid gold.

Instead of,  “let’s go enjoy it”—oh no, we can’t do that, first we have to spend a thousand years hating each other because we have different ideas about how it all got here, arguing about god, no god, evolution, intelligent design…..

We  are like a ship or vessel of life forms/humans, that was lost,  got tossed about, and landed in PARADISE – the BEST PLACE with the greatest capacity to feel love, joy, ecstasy, sublime peace and tranquility; to live in the affirmation of the tremendous dignity and sanctity of our own and all other sentient beings lives.  And somehow we as a species got confused, and in our attitudes a glitch came about, the glitch of anger, stress, low self-esteem, fear and confusion and inability to BE HUMAN—and inability to BE in the present moment. We got caught up in a negative loop that goes round and round of;  they are better, I want their car, money, attractive husband, etc,  or I am better, how dare they have part of my stuff (i.e. expect me to pay taxes).

So now what can be done?

How can humans appreciate all the cosmos/life/earth/nature / each other?

By being here and now, by feeling and learning from and releasing traumas, death of loved ones, and old grudges and regrets.

By acknowledging (as explained in the great book, The Tao of Physics), the past, present and future is all right now, not linear. We CAN be in the present:  there is no need for encumbrance from past.  And there is no need to fear the future, or engage in excessive preparation for the future.  Notice people like the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh , many others – joyful in the present.  It is humanly possible to be that way, not based on money or material success, but on noticing our breathing, and living mindfully.

We can embrace the concept that we are the ones that hit the jackpot of life, of nature, of living in this place so well suited to us. We can respect the nature, our part and place in it.  We can ALLOW ourselves to be/feel who we really are, human animals connected with the one-ness of all that is. We can use our intellect to direct us to the feeling place of peace and love and kindness, transcending prior (and current) approaches based on fear, hatred, closing off between groups in various places on earth and closing off between one person and another.

We act like it’s not ok to function as we were designed to function – to pee, poop , have sex –things we all do and pretend we don’t (well SOME of those things)– and we pretend people don’t die, and become sad when they do.  We pretend we can control life, when actually we are here to roll with it–the weather, the change of seasons, the always evolving, living, dying and living and dying of people/plants/animals.

We pretend we are immortal, and thus go for decades and decades without enjoying or feeling happy in life…to perhaps take a 2 week vacation in which we are supposed to get the reward of 20 years of not really being alive while we work at a job that has no meaning, that isn’t using our talents.  Or we  convince ourselves that  “If only I work the next 20 years, or until retirement, at a job that I force myself to go to,  and sacrifice all present enjoyment, I will have lots of money, or the perfect spouse or house, and then I can be happy.”

We pretend we don’t die:  Thus, we often disregard the present moment, acting like it doesn’t matter, imagining that it will matter some other time–tomorrow, or this weekend, or at the holiday break.  Think of a party that we are all invited to, called life, we know that the party is happening, but we don’t go.  We say we will go later. Alternatively, think like a little child who has not yet removed himself from living in the moment.  Someone comes and says lets go see the sights, play, laugh, roll in the grass, stare up into the sky, the kid goes.  He does not say “I can do that later” or I am holding out for a better party later, or the cool people won’t be there so I don’t want to go, or, that party won’t last forever so it isn’t any good.

We can stop pretending that some people are not human, and have compassion for all life, human and other, and build systems that reflect that, systems that foster the state in which we can frequently  EXPERIENCE the ECSTASY of being alive.  Feel our breath, the fresh air on our skin, a breeze caressing our skin when we walk outside in the morning, the lovely laughter of children playing, and cease our habit and systems that wall off our lives into buildings, cities, in which each person is expected to hoard items they “buy” after selling their time at a “job” that is not intrinsic to who they are. We can allow our planet and its humans to blossom out in the intrinsic thing that is who they are.

We can make art and design things that will help the planet heal, find ways to solve problems like garbage floating in the ocean and homelessness…. And base our economy on only things that help heal ourselves and the planet, exchange goods and services that help all, ceasing to run the world using economies that  harm millions while benefiting 10 or 20 wealthy people that own some big corporations.