Living in the State of Grace

Yes, the State of Grace has surfaced again. Many people have touched the State of Grace and are instantly addicted to it. The problem comes when just “Knowing” the State of Grace is not enough and people go out and want to try to “live it.” (In my experience, touching the State of Grace feels: peaceful, nonjudgmental-accepting, free from constraints of time and the limitations of the body, a oneness with all living souls, basking in the wisdom of the “source,” and the warmth and envelopment of unconditional love.)

We meditate. We pray. We eat right. We try not to swear when frustrated. We smile a lot. We want that deep feeling of acceptance, unconditional love, peace, wisdom, freedom, and the bright light of the divine to be on all the time in our lives. We may even feel like we are not good enough when we lapse into petty humanism.

Get a grip! We are in our human bodies, dealing with our human lives for a reason. It is tough and it is challenging. We came here to learn our lessons from the heated forge of the furnace we call human existence. Forge is the correct word because we have to “melt down” and then be poured into the new shapes our learning takes so we can harden into a stronger new consciousness. We humans are hard on ourselves, especially when we “expect” our minds and our egos to mold into something they are not and will never be… full of love and acceptance. We think we know what Grace is and how to get there but there is no, or very little, grace on this plane of existence… That IS our lesson!

We bump up against all these other souls, who are here for a reason, and wonder why they are in our way to peace… That is why they are here! The people who “push your buttons” have invaded your “space” to test your resolve… Are you going to let emotions including anger and fear out OR are you going to look this irritating fellow pilgrim in the eye, see their divine perfection, and smile with the acceptance and unconditional love which is our divine aspiration?…

When you are evolved enough, like our Avatars: Jesus, Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, or whoever your symbol of the Divine is, then you will find peace. You will accept. You will love unconditionally. AND, even then, you will not be in the State of Grace 24/7. Hell, 24/7 does not even exist in the Divine… ‘Cause there is no TIME or limitations of the flesh and the mind…

Find JOY! Find a way to laugh at yourself as you screw up again and again. It is part of the process. You will get it “RIGHT” but maybe not in this life. Being human is painful BUT it is amazing and fun if you can appreciate the petty lives we must live to move further along our path. LOVE and support your fellow pilgrims. We are ALL in this together. We are all here to learn and to grow and to collide on this human plane with each other.

Blessings to you! You will need every blessing and ounce of support you can find. Do not forget to share your story, your love, your blessings. Love and learn from your mistakes. AND, laugh/dance like no one else is watching…

One last thing for today, Whether you know this or not, YOU ARE PERFECT! You are LOVED. You are Blessed! You are the embodiment of the Holy Spirit and PERFECT in your own unique way!

If you are searching for a supportive community to share your stories and your love, go out and create one. Or, consider the Masters of the Journey.
Any way. Live, Love, and Learn… Namaste

Andreas W. Suggested that my pessimism regarding the lack of the State of Grace on our earthly existence can be argued that if we are fully present and look for the beauty of life which surrounds us we CAN FIND the State of Grace in our Earthly lives, more frequently. He is so correct. The beauty and perfections of nature, when appreciated, is a definition of the State of Grace… This can not be said for the normal interactions we have with other struggling pilgrims.

Breathe and Be Present!

When all else fails and you find yourself emotionally spinning or anxious or angry, STOP, take a deep slow breath. Feel the cool air as you inhale and the warm air exhale as you slowly breathe out… Be present! Release the anger or resentment from the past. Let the future wait, without the fear and anxiety of the unknown. Sure this is easier said than done but with some practice, and willingness, you can learn to live more in the appreciation of the present moment.

It really is not that difficult to pay close attention to the cool air as you breathe in, then pause a moment, and then slowly release the breath while allowing the unnecessary thoughts and emotions to slowly, but freely, flow out and away. You have to breathe anyway. Why not do it consciously? And, while you slowly breathe, why not learn to take responsibility for YOUR role in creating the life drama that may be upsetting to you… Sure, there are annoying people and  incidents, but you have a choice to get sucked in to the drama or to not get sucked in. Yes, you can just watch the drama unfold and wonder what your lesson is and what you are supposed to be learning from the weird turn of events.

There are styles of meditation which are practiced for years and built around focusing on slowly breathing. It can take people years to master these styles but it does not have to take years to have important benefits for you in the present moment! In fact, if you walk out into a beautiful natural setting like by the ocean, or by a river/stream, or by the majesty of the mountains with the sky above reaching up to the heavens, you can use your slow breathing to find the beauty and appreciation of the present moment. This will change your attitude quickly, if you let it! You can let go of the fear and be present, basking in the love that accompanies the beauty of the present moment in nature. If you can not get out into nature then use a candle to focus on or maybe a beautiful photograph or painting as a natural mandala to soothe your mind and soul. Even a pleasant memory of a time basking in the beauty of nature will help to soothe you in the present moment if you find yourself slowly breathing deeply with the willingness to “let go.”

You can close your eyes and go inward to feel the cool air as you inhale, pause, and release the warm exhale, slowly. String together 8-12 slow breaths and your heart rate will begin to slow and your muscles will begin to relax. As you slow down, your mind will gently follow into a more peaceful and pleasant state. This is a great skill to share with the people you care the most about… And, also it is worth sharing with people who you do not care the most about. The calming with gently spread like a chain reaction and offer calmness to all of your environment.

The Stress Education Center has information at www.dstress.com . The Masters of the Journey has information and ways to find a spiritual tribe to support you at www.mastersofthejourney.com  Please take good care of yourself and find ways to be “Present.”

Zen Meditation for Westerners

Have you ever sat peacefully beside a campfire or a warming fireplace and gazed into the fire? You have even lost yourself for moments as you were transfixed by the dancing of the flames. It may have even seemed difficult to turn away from the glowing center of your focus.

Or, have you ever found yourself sitting on the beach watching as the waves roll in, break, and then wash up unto the beach? It is so meditative to walk along the beach and play tag with the waves that are thrown up unto the sand beneath your feet. Sitting by a river or stream can also bring the calmness of mind as you watch the moving water and hear the sound of the water as it washes downstream.

Watching the breezes blowing through tall grasses or leaves on a tree can also lead you into a peaceful, meditative state of mind. But why do these nature visions gently create the relaxed and mellow states of mind and body?

The very act of being out in nature, or finding enjoyment by appreciating natural beauty is one of the most important and most basic tools for finding inner peace and harmony. The very act of “being present” with the glorious natural beauty is another important tool. Find a way to let go of the “past” and release the uncertainty regarding the unknowns of the “future,” even for just a few minutes, can be a practice of restoration. There are many ways to do this such as: following your slowed breath with special appreciation of the cool air as you inhale and the warmth of your breath as you slowing exhale.

In the science of neuro-physiology, you may also learn that the sound vibration of running water (from a stream or from waves upon the beach) resonates with frequency of 10 Hz per second which neuro- psychologists understand is the same as the brain wave state known as the “Alpha” rhythm which, for most people, is the quiet mind, “meditative” state that can be found in EEG (brainwave) patterns of successful meditators. By being around moving water, your own EEG pattern may begin to align with 10 Hz per second and so help you to drift into a more relaxed state.

But what has this to do with the practice of Zen Meditation, which has been taught for thousands of years? Zen meditation, at its most basic level, is the practice quieting the mind by softly gazing through open eyes at the world. It helps to have a peaceful, quiet, meditative point to focus upon such as a candle, flowing water, a mandala, or even the beauty of a flower or tree. To become “present” and to slow your breathing as you focus are the first things to practice. In the beginning your mind may be cluttered with other thoughts and memories, but with dedicated practice you can learn to quiet these thoughts by not judging them and letting flow through you and out of your mind, while returning the soft focus on the beauty in front of you. There are times when times comes more easily and times in life when the distractions are more engaging.

A few moments of peaceful and slow breathing can better help you to prepare for the quieting of the gentle Zen focusing. Your position can vary from standing, to sitting, to lying down, though many trained meditators prefer the sitting position. Whatever your position, it is best to find a comfortable position where you might spend 5 -20 minutes peacefully gazing at the object which you are focusing upon. (If you are using a candle, be advised to do this safely and protected from hot wax or melting candles which may be too close to other flammable materials…)

Be as neutral as you can be regarding the focus of your attention. Accept the beauty and the moment. Allow yourself to drift deeper into the pleasant and relaxing quiet. Many meditators will allow these peaceful feelings to return with them for use through the rest of their day. This can  give them a more solid mental and emotional foundation so they can move more smoothly through the interactions of their daily activities. It may not solve all the challenges but it can be a very comforting, “centered” posture to move more gracefully through the dramas which can enter your life…

Pick a beautiful photograph if you can not get out into natural beauty. Choose a quiet time in your schedule when you are beginning this practice, because this may reduce the annoyances which can be distracting in the early stages of the practice of Zen Meditation. Some people pick early morning or sunrise. I like late afternoon or twilight times. Find the time that works best for you and stick with for a while until you know whether it is a good time in your natural schedule for meditation.

Be patient. Start slowly and for shorter periods of time. Remember to breathe slowly and more deeply than you might normally. Look to relax your forehead, your jaw, your shoulders, and anywhere else you may be holding tension.

My friend, Jim Papp, who is the author of the the book, “Inquire Within: A Guide to Living in Spirit” is a strong proponent of finding solitude in nature. His advice includes a walk or hike in a natural setting with the Zen mind of appreciation and “Presence.” The Zen experience of being with and in nature is a grounding exercise and a centering process which most people find meditative and healing of mind, body, and spirit. Finding all of your
senses surrounded by the beauty of the natural world gives a healthy calmness to your mind, body, and spirit. Connecting with nature is a practice that goes back in human history to the very origins of humankind and even basic survival for all lifeforms. The “ancient wisdoms” have been filled with appreciation and “presence” with Mother Earth, though this practice has been pushed into the background by technology and “modern” scientific rational thinking. This modern approach to nature has also gotten humans into a good bit of trouble with the lack of respect and “connection” with the Earth.

Blessings to you on your path toward greater consciousness and keep your eyes “soft focused” on the beautiful moments you encounter!

For more information on managing stress, including using meditation, consider the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com. For more support and information on growing your consciousness and spirit consider the Masters of the Journey community at www.mastersofthejourney.com.

Connecting for Peace

This Summer, 2016, the world has been inundated by difficult news from around the world! Now, more than ever before it is time to come together AND to connect with the spirit of peace. To “judge” these developments as “bad” is easy for most of us who want the people of the world to get along and to work together for the common good of everyone on this planet (some think before it is too late….) Perhaps these man made disasters are not “bad” but necessary “wake up calls?” WHY do we need such “wake up calls?” My heart is troubled by the lengths people must take to be noticed! The innocent “victims” giving their lives, or their health, to the attention seeking, disenfranchised mayhem seekers.

It is NOT time to feel powerless or to wallow in the Media driven frenzy. It IS time to find the peace and the deepest seated LOVE to send out through your thoughts and prayers to all humankind. Now is the time to picture peace in the world. When enough of us focus on this highest level of unconditional love, knowing that we are all “one” with each other souls, we can begin to change the consciousness of others spirits, even the ones suffering with anger, rage, and hostility. A daily dose of blessing seems more appropriate than time spent watching the “news” on TV.

At the end of my daily meditation, I picture the golden white light of love going out from my heart to envelop the world, the solar system, the galaxy, and then the Universe. Why not? It can do no harm to focus upon LOVE and to pray for peace for ALL! I have no way of “knowing” with my mind if this helps, but I KNOW that my heart and my soul feel good to offer these positive energies…

Blessings to you, whether you work for peace or not. We are all in this together no matter what your mind tells you. We are ALL one with the Divine Spirit.

Please take good care of yourself and find the best way for YOU to go out and do good in the World! Be the shining beacon of hope as you role model the goodness of spirit!

No matter where you are, connect with a “Loving” community and collectively meditate on a Universe filled with Joy, Happiness, Love, and Supreme Consciousness. Mankind may be just a brief “Blip” in the history of our Universe but I wish that we can learn our “lessons” and more fully “Remember” the blessings of the Divine within our souls and spirits. YOU are NOT powerless in the face of the world’s challenges. You must fill the void with a positive thought and your positive energy! Broadcast LOVE!

Peace.

L. John Mason, Ph.D.

Founder of the Stress Education Center and Masters of the Journey, Transformational Community

Letting Go a Meditation

(From a meditation on a beautiful Fall day… and, for future meditations to find peace…)
Consider this meditation by reading each line slowly and pausing to experience these words/thoughts.

Experience the feelings of being angry.
Experience the feelings of fear.
Experience the feelings of being sad.
Experience the feelings of being anxious.
Experience the feelings of the lack of control.

Learn the lesson of anger and accept it.
Learn the lesson of fear and accept it.
Learn the lesson of sadness and accept it.
Learn the lesson of anxiety and accept it.
Accept the lack of control. Accept that death is the outcome of living. It is not the enemy, it is an important transition.

Let go of anger.
Let go of fear.
Let go of sadness.
Let go of anxiety.
Let go of frustration.

Now say:
I am letting go of my anger.
I am letting go of my fear.
I am letting go of my anxiety.
I am letting go of my sadness.
I am letting go of my frustration with my lack of control and I am learning to accept the process of death for my loved ones and for myself. If possible, find grace in the final transition.

I am Joy!
I am Love!
I am Blessed!
I am Peace!

In my heart, I feel the glimmer of peace from acceptance…

Zen and the Art of Beach Combing

This past weekend, I was searching for sea shells on a beach in Ferndale, WA. It reminded me of the many times I found solace as I have walked beaches around the world…

Most of us have had the experience of walking on a beach. We have walked by the ocean or by a lake or by a river and as we walk we look for interesting things that have been washed up on the beach. The experience “absorbs” us by filling our minds with the present moment and what treasure can be spotted.

The act of walking by any body of water is relaxing for most of us. If the weather is calm and we do not fear bodies of water, then we can feel the soothing calmness that moving water can provide. I have been told that water gives off “negative ions” which are supposed to be relaxing (for most of us.) Moving water resonates at about 10 cycles per second and as our brains mimic or resonate with this pace, we can drift into an “alpha” brainwave state (which is a meditative and relaxing state for most of us.) Just the act of walking outdoors by water seems to relax us and this is enhanced by walking barefoot over warm sand as we feel the sunshine and listen for sounds of birds…

In fact, many people use similar images as a relaxation visualization that can soothe and even help to heal. We can benefit from a mental vacation and the peaceful rest of a brief Zen meditation. Perhaps we remember a beach that we have strolled upon. Perhaps we contemplate a walk down a beach that we have wished to visit. The very thought has powerful positive qualities. Adding details makes it richer and more powerful while also helping us to escape, for a moment, our normal beach-less lives.

I challenge you to dream. Image yourself walking, or better still, walk the beaches of the world and then lose yourself in the wonderful pleasure of this peace and beauty. This will heal your mind, body, and spirit.

Keys to Connecting with Spirit

Spiritual Development and Higher Consciousness

People discuss health and wellness in terms of a balance in “Mind-Body-Spirit.” But when we try to pursue “connecting” with our spirit, we can be frustrated because there are so distractions and obstacles in our way to higher consciousness. After 30 years of private practice, I have stumbled upon an important truth about “connecting with spirit.” In very simple terms, if you “quiet your mind,” relax the “distractions” of your body, and find your way into shedding memories from the past or anxieties about the future, you will have set the stage for a better connection with your spirit. One additional ingredient is an “openness” to feel and to explore your spirit.
I am not speaking about religion or any religious training. I am speaking in terms of your own personnel spiritual evolution and experiencing the source of “Universal Consciousness.” (Universal Consciousness, or possibly “Cosmic Consciousness,” will be defined and discussed in a future article.

If you have a passionate desire to connect with your spirit then read on.

Many clients have been referred to my private practice by health professionals who wish these clients to reduce, or eliminate, certain stress related challenges. Symptoms that are created, or made worse, by stress such as: insomnia, high blood pressure, headaches, backaches, poor circulation, GI disorders, irregular or rapid heart rates, panic/anxiety, and some respiratory challenges have all been referred. Of these referrals, 70-80% of the time within 4-6 weeks of our stress management process, I begin to hear about “unexpected positive results.” As the clients begin to practice our stress management techniques, on a daily basis, they begin to grow more skillful at quieting their minds and relaxing their bodies. Often before their symptoms begin to lessen, I hear things that consistently sound like this: “I am sleeping better and remembering my dreams,” or “My dreaming patterns have changed,” or “Things that used to bother me, do not seem to bother any more (or as much.)” My clients report having better attitudes or the ability to connect in positive ways with the people around them. They are less irritated. They have better energy. They make fewer stress related mistakes and this saves them time. They report have a better “balance” and a more positive mental attitude. This opens the door for their connection with “spirit” and the development of their higher consciousness.

Most of the stress management strategies that I teach get people to the same, or a very similar, place. With practice, when these clients find the “right,” stress management strategy and begin to practice it on a regular basis, they report saving time, energy, and feeling better. I believe that this process leads directly to connecting with spirit and changes the way these people experience their lives.

The Stress Education Center’s website has archived blogs & articles that teach these techniques and they are all written out in the best selling, “Guide to Stress Reduction” which you can find in your library or at Amazon.com…. www.dstress.com

If you want coaching or assistance with this process, contact us for coaching or for our 5 session online stress management course (available through the website.)

Please take good care of yourself. Expand your mind and connect with your spirit, it feels great!