Nature

“Nature, I Do Not See What People See in It!” Yes, this is a quote from someone I know but who I do not understand. Yes, they were serious when they said this! How can you exist without a passion for the natural world? I was raised in the city. Los Angeles, CA and with parents who were “city folk.” Not much family time in nature, however, I caught a severe case of nature love when I was picking through tide pools or fishing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. When I could drive, I went camping and took up backpacking into those mountains. I love being at or near timberline where elevation makes it difficult for trees to grow. 9,200-9,400 feet of elevation in the central Sierra’s for timberline. The place where trees stop and rock, glaciers, and blue sky begin to take over. “God’s Cathedral,” I once exclaimed at the age 25 in Evolution Meadow at 9300 feet above sea level. It was a Spiritual experience for a very “rational” non-religious, non-spiritual young man. I was overcome!

As an adult, I shared my mountain passion with my sons and took them backpacking. My younger son had his “rites of passage” hike into the Minarets just west of Devil’s Postpile and Mammoth. My heart dances in the red rocks of Sedona, Colorado, Zion, and Bryce. The coast, the islands, the lakes, the rivers, and the mountains of the Pacific Northwest are celebrated and where I choose to live my spiritual evolution these days. But, I still wonder why people do not bask in full appreciation of the natural world. It is in our DNA. And, I do not know a spiritual teacher, who I respect, who does not say that gratitude and meditations in nature are good for the soul. Some of my best messages from my Guidance have come from walks in nature… (Just like this one, triggered by hikes in the Red Rocks of Sedona, AZ.)

How can people detach from nature and let their fear/anxiety of the unknown trigger their ambivalence to our natural heritage? The healing energy of forests in the Northwest give me a needed break from our technology driven culture. Yes, I admit to talking to my friends the Cedar trees and will hug them on many occasions. “Tree Hugger” is NOT a negative in my life… I have taught, with love, my grandson to appreciate and hug the trees we pass. (No eye rolls from my son or his bride, but they do get entertained…)

There are many who believe that worshipping our natural world is an important key to spiritual consciousness and physical healing. I will not argue with this belief though I am not sure that I can demand this action by others. You must find your own way to honor the DNA of your body and its deep rooted connection with our Mother Earth. Walk gently and honor your Mother.

One thing I have not said yet in this Love Nature conversation encourages me to find deep appreciation and gratitude for nature by being most “Present.” Perhaps getting out of your head and into your heart. Letting go the past thoughts and future unknowns. Yes, be fully in this moment and celebrate in wonderment of the miracles under your feet, at arms length, off in the distance… And while you are at it, consider focusing your eyes, when safe to do so, on the horizon, not just down on your feet. Breathe in the delicious colors, smells, and sounds of your natural environment. Lose yourself as a tiny speck of matter and energy in this big Universe and appreciate the perfection and all the inter-connections.

You do not have trek to natural beauty found in guide books. You can find the miracles of nature everywhere. In your backyard, in your city’s streets, in expansive sky above you, everywhere you look with appreciation. There is not a spot on our Earth where amazing beauty of nature can not be found. Example, Viktor Frankl found the incredible beauty of life living in a blade of grass during World War II as a prisoner in Auschwitz and this helped him survive. And yes, you sometimes have to look pretty hard to find the miracles which endlessly surround you…

Connecting with nature, no matter how YOU do it, is a positive, healing event. It opens you up to the Gratitude of the many Miracles our world includes. Appreciation and Gratitude are the first parts of meditations that re-connect you to the “present moment” and the manifestation of the Divine Spirit. In my belief and feelings, people who profess consciousness find it natural to love our natural world. Celebrate Mother earth and share the beauty with whomever you hold dear. And also celebrate, anyone who is breathing even if you do not hold them dear for they are also natural miracles. Because, they are You and Perfect like You. No, you do not have to hug trees but if that inspiration flares up, do not hesitate. It feels great!

You are amazing! As you set aside your human drama for a few moments, go out and dance in love with Nature. It will surely love you back.

There is no place as magical as Yellowstone National Park. Yes this is a bison with birds in a meadow near “Old Faithful” geyser in the early morning. The steam is rising from thermal pools and this day, like your day, is filled with miracles… Celebrate the Miracles you find in every moment and with every step you take. This is easier when you out in the amazing natural world…

Perspective: Revisited

Viewing Life from Higher or Lower Places

On a recent trip to Bryce Canyon and Sedona, I awoke one evening and considered my travels and the perspective which I found most attractive. In reviewing my photographs taken on this trip, I found that my favorites were photos taken from a higher perspective. The ones I considered the most expansive were the photos taken from on top of the cliffs I visited. The openness of the sky and the incredible perspective of viewing a broad range of natural beauty seemed to really speak to me. When I hiked in the canyons, I enjoyed looking up, seeing the rock formations and the effects of the carving by rivers, winds, and glaciers, AND, this perspective was amazing as well. Natural beauty is a Divine gift to appreciate and to experience. The “overlooks” were the ones I found I wanted to photograph and to share the most.

What does this say about my perspective? Is taking a broader view more appealing to me for a reason or just an unconscious aesthetic attraction? Expansive views of bright blue skies and red rock cliffs were very seductive to for me on these travels. My appreciation is not unique. There were plenty of other travelers enjoying these overlooks and views. An appreciation also now considers that the roads to these overviews were created by people driven to share these amazing sights. These builders put so much effort into building these roads and trails which lead the way to this higher perspective of the natural beauties in our world. What drove these engineers and builders to work so hard in these challenging physical environments for the sake of pilgrims on the road?

Overlooking the Earth’s treasures from higher perspective adds so much to an appreciation for our lives which often seemed so locked into lower perspectives. We often find ourselves looking at and living within the valleys of our lives and looking up. There is great beauty to be seen AND we sometimes seem required to gain the higher perspective and to experience the broader perspective possible…

A “Higher Perspective” is also a metaphor which applies to the way we think and feel. “Taking the High Road” is an expression which suggests that one does not get caught in a lower perspective which may include anger, fear, anxiety and is often more narrow or even self-centered in focus. Is “Higher” always better? This may depend upon the challenge and learning in life that is being experienced. I have learned more from my mistakes and the hard times in my life than when things seemed easy and rolling along in a seemingly positive successful way. In this perspective, I could say that the low times and the valleys of my life offered important lessons and experiences which allowed me to better appreciate the “happier” times. We all need diverse perspectives in our lives.

An example from a hike near Sedona, AZ to the top of Doe Mesa.

View from the top of Doe Mesa

Your perspective changes as you move along your path through life. Early on, your perspective includes “Wonderment” for everything is new and special in your young expanding consciousness. In adolescence, you fight to be in control of your life, even if you are not quite ready to take on this responsibility. Later, as an adult, you may overlook the miracles which present themselves because you are so busy doing seemingly “important” things and you have “done stuff” so you may be jaded. But, often you will come around again to the perspective of Wonderment, where life again is filled with amazing and unique experiences. If you are not consciously developing consciousness then as you approach the end of your current incarnation you live in fear and anxiety or maybe “find religion” so you can satisfy your need for unknowable answers which are lacking when you are consciously unconscious. Wow, perspective at this time allows for very different worldly lessons and experiences. Again, looking up from life’s canyons versus looking out from a “higher perspective.”

Your life is full of choices. Your number one choice is to take responsibility for your life. You can live from the perspective of being a victim. These lessons are interesting and may be of service to the other people you interact with however, you can more freely steer your own ship if you understand, appreciate and move forward as the responsible leader of your life’s experiences. Learn from the darker times and share your learned wisdoms. ALWAYS look to serve. Coming from the perspective of looking to serve, without “strings attached,” is a huge step toward living in a state of higher consciousness. A Higher Perspective for sure…

And, living in darkness, under a rock, as a victim, or controlled by addictions to the dramas of your life is a spectacular way to test your learned or remembered wisdoms. Your interactions will feed off the human dramas we have come into the human life to experience. You may have agreed to assist other souls with their lessons. You may be testing to refine your own past life transgressions or possibly the issues of your ancestors. There is no past or future, but the human mind may understand things in a linear way with its limitations of the three dimensional perspective, so, past ancestors’ issues may seem to exist for you to attempt to “clean up.” Lots to consider and very far afield in this posting.

Whatever you choose to use as your perspective in life, it is PERFECT! You are where you are supposed to be… And, at some point, at any point, you can choose to view life, and live life, from a different perspective…
And, whether you know it or not, YOU are a Miracle! Thank you for being you…

Walking Meditation

On my walk today guidance seemed to suggest that I create a blog posting regarding the Art of the Walking Meditation. As I considered this suggestion, I was flooded with guidance’s suggestion on what to include in this posting. Since I have learned to “Just Say Yes” to my guidance, I am complying. And, walking is a great way to meditate, to become more “present,” to take positive time for yourself, and to exercise. Consider these reminders of wisdom you are already familiar with. (This wisdom is built into your DNA and your Soul.)

Eyes open meditation can fall into the philosophy of Zen meditation which tends to encourage being a part of the world rather than closing your eyes to purely focus within. ZaZen walking meditation has been described to me as eyes open, slow moving, conscious of the world, as a meditation. Breathe slowly. Walk slower than your normal pace. Feel your heel land in front of you and then roll forward on to your toes. And, repeat. If you can do so safely, “soft focus” your eyes. Enjoy each slow breath and each relaxed step. Focus upon the footsteps and your breath. In the beginning, just try 50 steps in this conscious way. Doing this in the safety of nature with less traffic and distractions from manmade chaos can help with this meditation. However, even trying this as you walk back from your lunch to work or school or home activities can make your day move more comfortably with less internal distractions. You may want to remember to turn off your phone calls, texting and social media signals.

Walking consciously out in a natural setting is meditative. In the trees, by water, on trails vs pavement, in the sunshine or in a gentle rain are all positive additions. Avoiding traffic, human dramas, loud construction projects, airplanes, warfare, and screaming politicians or rock music may also seem obvious and will enhance a more meditative state of mind. (Though bears, some dogs, venomous snakes, large crashing waves, cougars and falling trees might also pose a distraction to avoid in nature. Just saying the obvious.) You get the point. Mellow in nature is better. Walking a bit more slowly, breathing, and gently gazing at the miracles which our world can provide can make this a great “forest bathing” experience. Allowing for time and possibly fewer pressing appointments on either side of this nature walk would be a helpful consideration if possible. AND, remember to breathe… Slowly and fully.

Additions might include, feeling the warmth of the sun, listening to the stream/river/waves, feeling the gentle breezes, and even smelling the fragrance of the salt air or grasses or flowers or the trees. I like to imagine that I can breathe in the warm sunlight or soak up the warm breezes to better help heal and to recharge me as I slowly drift down (or up) the path. There are times and places when walking with someone else for safety or guidance can be good. And, there are times when walking alone without extra conversation can be most relaxing. The bottom line is to be as “present” in the moment as you gently move through this nature loving walk. You may want to pick up an interesting rock to hold and possibly to help “ground” you as you connect most peacefully with nature. (Sometimes I even hug a tree to ground myself out. Are you laughing? Well consider trying this weird 1960’s consciousness. YOU may like it.)

Sure, most of you have done this and know how to walk in meditation in nature BUT do you schedule the time in your busy, drama filled lives to participate in these meditative walks??? Well, Just Do It!

Be open to surprises and the gifts the Divine Spirit will provide for you. If you walk with the “Beginner’s Mind” the beauty will unfold just for your heart to dance in the light of spectacular marvels and amazing revelations. If you ask respectfully for these, they will show up. Maybe in the clouds. Maybe the leaves dancing in the breezes. Perhaps the songs of the birds or the chatter of the squirrels. Perhaps the appearance of the butterfly or the hummingbird will symbolize guidance reaching out to embrace you. Be open and the delights of natures will present themselves for you and fan the flames of the brightening light of your consciousness. As you are a small part of this large Universe, you might even consider the amazing things which have occurred to create this beautiful blue planet and all the life forms which share it with you.

And. Walking in wonder with Beginners Mind, even in the city, can show you amazing miracles to appreciate and to show gratitude for. Every miracle you acknowledge is another important, and beautiful, lesson for you.

There is Joy to found in every moment and in every step you take. Please consider the search for the Joy and the miracles which surround us.

You are Amazing!

Forest Bathing

Shinrin Yoku is the Japanese name for an Ecotherapy technique translated into “Forest Bathing.” This is also considered “horticultural therapy” and “grounding.” Research is inconclusive as to the how and the why this is therapeutic for people and may fall into the realm of “placebo” effects by rigid scientific thinking. So what if it is placebo… But, hanging out in nature is complicated (in all the many variables) and therapeutic. What do you “Know” about the positive effects of hanging out in a natural scene like a forest or a beach or a trail through the mountains?

Walking through a natural setting is good for you physically because you are getting exercise, burning calories, and assisting your parasympathetic nervous system response. Hiking in nature assists you mentally as a break from man made technology, with natural lighting & colors, and perhaps distance from “positive ions” in favor of calming, “negative ions.” Drifting, one step at a time, along a path contributes to the spiritual process of “grounding” where you release excess energy into the Earth, connects you with the natural Universe, and offers you the opportunity to witness first hand the Miracles of Life on our planet. As you breathe in the freshly oxygenated forest air, you are free from the human made confines of vehicles or manufactured homes.

Perhaps the best, possibly placebo, effect you can connect with nature and the Divine Spirit firsthand. Not in theory or in books or on TV… You, yes YOU, are a firsthand “experiencer” of the wonders of the natural world from where we have evolved (or created) and where natural appreciating rebalances our hearts, our minds, and our bodies. Not everyone loves being out in nature. These people are wrong! (Notice my “Judgement” with feeling…) Nature is found in every cell of our bodies and a lack of appreciation, to me, is like a denial of our living roots. (Obviously, my judgements are a topic for other blog postings or even many past postings.)

Forest Bathing is an activity I celebrate on a regular basis. A walk in the trees changes me in positive ways where I can relax and be more present. I release stress and drink in the amazing features of the natural world. This feels healing. Mind, body and spirit celebrate these moments and this effort in reconnecting with my natural worldly existence. With some small amount of distance from the trailhead, I can feel the Zen meditation (Za Zen) taking form. If I can be mentally “present,” I can begin to connect with this environment and many times I connect with my intuition as I feel my “essence” in the natural world.

Most people find solace in trips into natural environments. Being by water or trees or rocky monoliths offers a needed break from crowded frenetic man-made environments. “Getting away from it all” is a common expression suggesting the healing benefits of getting away from urban areas and back “out” into nature. Even a visit to a beautiful park or garden can help trigger this ecotherapy. For stress management and anxiety control, (unless you are afraid of open spaces – agoraphobia) your time in nature is more than just relaxing. It is invigorating and recharging you with the natural “life force.”

Obviously, as I write this posting, I am a “believer” in the positive effects which a walk in a natural environment can bring to me. I schedule this into my life. For me, a spiritual experience is a part of this attraction though this can be subtle or dramatic. When I cross paths with an animal or a huge Cedar tree or flowing stream/river, my heart celebrates this gift to me and my consciousness. I am spoiled because I am living in the Pacific NorthWest and when I roll out my front door, I am only a few steps from being enveloped in natural beauty. This choice to live in PNW was partially a conscious one and partially driven by my guidance BUT fully loved and appreciated.

So, go have a Forest Bath. YOU deserve it! Feel the Earth beneath your feet as you tread in the natural world. Be present. Be grounded. Be blessed to resonate in the natural rhythms you can experience. YOU are a miracle. Thank you for walking the Earth and sharing your spirit…

Looking at Clouds

Have you ever looked at clouds? Of course you have. This morning, shortly after the rising of the sun, I looked to the East and found a mostly blue sky with wispy clouds gently drifting… It made me pause and find gratitude for the gift of the gorgeous miracle of this new day. No one could paint these delicate clouds and do them justice. My eyes behold the subtle beauty playing out high in the atmosphere.

How is this possible? These clouds are so light and delicate. The smile these clouds bring to my face elicits Joy. A great way to start my new day. What other gifts of nature’s beauty will I cross paths with today… Everyday…???

As I stop to think about it, though the act of thinking pulls me out of the “present” as an observer, I want to share this moment with you. So, if you are reading this post I hope a delightful memory dances across your consciousness reminding you of a visual treat laid before you which brings you Joy! Or, better still, go out and find today’s miracle which presents itself for your appreciation and to remind you that each moment in nature is a gift. Embrace it. Meditate upon it. Love it. And then, Share it!

Life is a beautiful Mystery and here for us to find ways to discover ourselves.
As Joni Mitchell wrote in her song “Both Sides Now”:
“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all”

You are a Miracle! Thank you for being you.

Thanks for your time and consideration. Your insights and experiences are unique and a blessing, so please share these…

If you are READY and looking for a supportive community where you can share your story, your wisdom, and grow spiritually in a non-religious environment, consider Masters of the Journey.
You are a Blessing! You are a Master! Your wisdom from your life experience can have great value to other pilgrims on the path toward awakening and enlightenment.

The Masters of the Journey has events which are updated on our Facebook page which is found at: www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney Please comment on this blog and share, if appropriate. More of our blogs are based on spiritual consciousness and can be found at www.dstress.com/blog

Thanks for the Divine, Another Reminder of Gratitude

I went for my walk/hike this morning on a gray, breezy, and damp day. It felt good though a little chilly as I started out to walk in the woods around Lake Padden which is very close to where I live in Bellingham, WA. Today because of the cool weather there were fewer hikers and bikers than can be found on mornings when the weather seems more inviting. Up ahead of me on the trail as I was beginning my first turn around the lake I saw a familiar couple. Dave and his guide dog, Sporty, were out for their regular morning exercise walk. For me, this is a rare treat.

I first met Dave and Sporty a couple of years ago when I walked around the lake on a beautiful morning in the Pacific Northwest. Dave and Sporty caught up with me and passed me, moving at their normally fast pace. I worked to keep up with them and we had a nice visit as we walked the back side of the lake. Dave is a very friendly and articulate man. It is great to visit with him. He told me that he lives in the neighborhood, up the hill from the lake. Though blind, Dave has no problem with the visual disability which he lives with. Dave is NOT a victim in any way! When I try to imagine my life without eyesight, I struggle with this as a possibility. It seems, as a sighted person, to be a struggle I would find very challenging. Dave and Sporty are a high functioning team, in my mind…

When I caught up with Dave, I reminded him of who I was and that we had visited before. Dave knows many of the regular walkers and I have seen him in discussion with many others as I have walked this well used path around the lake. Dave’s positive attitude is infectious. I cherished my brief visit with Dave and Sporty today. I will cherish any future encounter and conversation with Dave and his trusty companion. My walk in the woods was grounding for me, as is usual but it was enhanced by my encounter with this pair of hikers.

An appreciation of each sacred encounter which the Divine provides us stands out as a learning opportunity. Gratitude is what I feel as I consider this beautiful unexpected addition to my day. Consider taking that walk in nature. Ground yourself in the natural beauty. Find appreciation for what you encounter and who you might meet as you walk your path through life… You are a Blessing! Search for Joy and the Divine in every encounter you are blessed to experience.

As I headed home, I did not notice the gray dampness or the chilly breeze. I notice how special each step is when I am fully present and available to cherish the beauty of my world. Miracles surround us, celebrate these in your own way.

Thanks for your time and consideration. Your insights and experiences are unique and a blessing, so please share these…

If you are READY and looking for a supportive community where you can share your story, your wisdom, and grow spiritually in a non-religious environment, consider Masters of the Journey.
You are a Blessing! You are a Master! Your wisdom from your life experience can have great value to other pilgrims on the path toward awakening and enlightenment.

The Masters of the Journey has events which are updated on our Facebook page which is found at: www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney Please comment on this blog and share, if appropriate. More of our blogs are based on spiritual consciousness and can be found at www.dstress.com/blog

Spiritual Seekers’ Questions to Consider

Questions for a Spiritual Seeker

“If you consider yourself to be on a spiritual path, you must be having conversations with your soul already. During your conversations, pause often and listen carefully. At times, pause to ask questions too.”

By Chandresh Bhardwaj, Contributor

Link to Blog: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/21-questions-for-a-spirit_n_5276120

Chandresh Bhardwaj writes:

“Questions are an important part of life and the spiritual journey as well. One must never stop asking questions. Be it the questions to your guru, teacher or your soul. If you consider yourself to be on a spiritual path, you must be having conversations with your soul already. During your conversations, pause often and listen carefully. At times, pause to ask questions too. When you ask a question to your soul, don’t worry about receiving the perfect answer. Instead, keep all your focus on the questions. Meditation on questions will eventually help you to arrive “home.”

Here are a few questions that I suggest you to ask yourself on your spiritual journey. I avoided adding any explanations to the questions as I don’t wish to interfere or add my bias to the answers/explanations that will come your way when asking these questions. One way to use these questions is to ask them one by one. Don’t rush. Take your time to explore one question and be as unbiased as possible in listening. Don’t manipulate the answers. Don’t try hard to listen to the answer that you want to hear. Just be effortless in listening.

The mind will give you many fancy answers. Especially if you are in the “spiritual market” for a while, it will give you answers such as “you are a divine soul,” “you are love,” you are “forgiveness.” Reject all these answers. The ancient masters used the mantra, Neti Neti, which means “neither this, nor that.” Masters recommended rejecting all answers thrown by mind and only then you will see the layers peeling off.

Do I seek social approval?
Where does my happiness come from?
What do I seek in my prayers?
Do I feel the divine in others?
How conscious am I when I eat?
Do I contribute unconditional love in the life of others?
How often do I lose my temper?
How much power do daily circumstances have over me?
How do I want to be remembered?
How deeply am I connected with my heart?
What is my deepest fear?
Am I connected to Mother Nature around me?
Have I accepted my body as it is?
Have I forgiven myself and others unconditionally?
What does love mean to me?
What is my deepest intention?
Do I listen to my soul attentively?
Do I cry and laugh easily?
How hard it is for me to unblock love?
What is my inspiration?
Who am I?” (End of Chandresh’s Blog)

There are NO right or wrong answers to these questions. The exercise is to ask, then consider, then enhance your self-awareness by attempting this exercise. Some of these questions are so powerful for me to ask of myself. Your most significant questions from this list depend on you and the consciousness you have already worked to achieve.

Namaste

If you are READY and looking for a supportive community where you can share your story, your wisdom, and grow spiritually in a non-religious environment, consider Masters of the Journey.
You are a Blessing! You are a Master! Your wisdom from your life experience can have great value to other pilgrims on the path toward awakening and enlightenment.

The Masters of the Journey has events which are updated on our Facebook page which is found at: www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney Please comment on this blog and share, if appropriate. More of our blogs are based on spiritual consciousness and can be found at www.dstress.com/blog

Re- Enchantment of the Cosmos: Returning to Our Ancient Roots

To our ancestors the Universe was filled with Enchantment and magic! For the past several hundred years “Rational Thought” has buried our connection to the wonderment of the miracles we now take for granted. Human consciousness, in the Modern world, has begun to come full circle getting back to our “roots” of consciousness. Re- Enchantment to the magic and mysteries of the Divine Spirit’s manifestations in our Universe grows stronger! The unexplained or the Rationally unexplainable miracles of life and consciousness are regaining our attention. Science and mathematics have explained visible natural processes until these reach an unexplainable point.

As an example worth researching are the interviews with people who have returned from Near Death Experiences (NDE.) As more people are interviewed, there are common threads between the accounts of this diverse group of people. Though it is difficult to “Re-integrate” after returning from a NDE, universally, certain parts of the experience are commonly a part of the account. Among these are: a “Knowing” that there is a Divine Source which connects everything in our Universe (and beyond,) a sense of “Unconditional Love and Acceptance,” a feeling of “Oneness” knowing that we are all in this together and a part of something greater than ourselves (and so breaking the barriers of individual egos and separation,) and a lack of fear of Death due to the knowing that we as spirit continue (just like physicists tells us that energy is neither created nor destroyed it just changes form.) Many people have a sense, or a strong knowing, that they have lived “past lives” (or that time does not exist and we are living many current lives in differing realities???…)

For example, what is consciousness? How do we feel? How do we “Know” what we Know? How did Life start and then develop into consciousness? Even the simplest structures hold unanswered questions like what hold atoms together and how can these atoms be physical material and also show that they have properties of non-material waves of energy? Physics has taken our awareness back to the “Source” and to the unexplainable realms of the Divine Spirit.

Our ancestors walked around our world in a state of enchantment and feelings of connections with all other objects in our Universe. They worshipped the spirit energy of the planets, the stars, the air, the water, the fire, and, of course, the Earth. Every rock and tree had a soul. Walking gently on the Earth was their way of worshipping the miracles which surrounded them. Reverence for all things was built into their culture and in their consciousness. We, in the “modern” world, are reawakening to the miracles and find renewed enchantment with the Cosmos in which we temporarily exist. We are an essential part of the living Universe. Modern cultures are even beginning to remember the ancient wisdom and ceremonies to remind us of the magic of the Universe we are a piece of. We are NOT separate though we are incorrectly taught to be individuals and separated from each other.

When YOU walk in nature, perhaps on a beach by the water, do you feel peacefulness and connection with the sand between your toes or the breezes which gently blow against your skin? Do you breathe in the air and find a peace not as common in your experience of congested cities? Does your mind wander to the miracle of the life forms you encounter and the unexplainable diversity of these life forms? Do you celebrate and honor these few moments as you drift through this natural environment? These might come from your primordial wisdom. Many of us yearn for those moments of contemplation in more primitive places because we desire to return to our roots. AND, to learn or relearn to love the natural environment. It is worth being “present” and remembering that we are sharing atoms with many of the lifeforms and even the inanimate objects we discover… Celebrate our Universe and share your story!

If you are READY and looking for a supportive community where you can share your story, your wisdom, and grow spiritually in a non-religious environment, consider Masters of the Journey.
You are a Blessing! You are a Master! Your wisdom from your life experience can have great value to other pilgrims on the path toward awakening and enlightenment.

The Masters of the Journey has events which are updated on our Facebook page which is found at: www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney Please comment on this blog and share, if appropriate. More of our blogs are based on spiritual consciousness and can be found at www.dstress.com/blog

Technology and Spirit

Since the 1980’s and the dawning of the “Information Age,” our modern lives have been driven by advancements in technology. Many of these advances have become time saving “necessities” for how we live, work, and play. The “world” has gotten smaller and, through this technology, more “connected,” if only superficially. As I write this blog, I realize that “blogging” and social media have driven even the wisest of spiritual development leaders to find use of the internet to “spread the word.” (They are just meditating in caves, awaiting disciples to show up.)

Looking at the development of technology also requires me to mention the “downsides” to using technologies when certain limitations have been created by our new dependencies upon instant messaging, smart phone “apps,” and photobombs. Relying on smart phones and computers can isolate us from deeper relationships with other humans (in face to face connection) AND even with ourselves. Many people are addicted to checking their smart phones and can ignore the person sitting in front of them. Messaging in 140 characters does not tell the story. Text messaging does not share the tone of voice, the sarcasm, the curled lip, the smile, any warmth of true care and concern. It does save time to use technology and can help us avoid truly exposing our deeper emotions, but this creates very incomplete communication and connection. Many people have lost the skill of conversing and sharing in the most personal and intimate ways.

Remember that for thousands of years our tribe would sit around the campfire and share stories, dreams, and learned wisdoms. The coffee shop or beer pub and our smart phones are poor substitutes for the cross-generational sharing that seems too often lacking in our modern world. The generational isolation of the youth from their elders (or any older persons with wisdom and life experience) is making the social fabric of our modern world rub very thin.

Since we do not sit around the campfires, where do we share our stories, our dreams, our intuitional learnings, and, most importantly, our touching-connections? Where can we find an “App” which embraces us with a heart felt hug or a view of the scenic majesty of glorious nature? Where can we find the grandeur of the sun setting over the ocean? Where can we view the deep blue sky juxtaposed against the rock and glaciers of our highest mountains? Where does technology allow us to feel the raging power of the surf crashing or the thunder of a waterfall? Where can smart phones allow us to feel the connection of a team in sports, or in business, or in a spiritual healing circle?

I am not saying that we should abandon technology but we may need to rethink how it can used to connect us rather than to isolate us. Video conferencing can be used to build relationships and to create supportive master mind groups where people, separated by physical distance or physical limitations, can connect to share time and deeper feelings. Wisdom can be discussed from the experiences of life’s learnings. People may be able to reach out beyond their families or local communities to find kindred spirits who may feel isolated from like minded people. The survivalists and conspiracy folks are already communicating this way but it could be a tool that consciousness seekers can also benefit from when using available technologies to communicate love or inclusion or acceptance.

We need to “connect” in deeper ways with our “tribe” to find the support, rather than the isolation, which is so necessary for negotiating the challenges of this life.

Thanks for taking your time to read and consider these thoughts. Share, if appropriate.

Consider the Masters of the Journey as a possible tribe of caring, supportive people who you connect with as you travel your path. Whether you know it or not, YOU are a master. YOU have much to share from the experiences learned in your life. YOU can serve by being an accepting witness as another pilgrim shares their story. YOU have more value and significance than you might realize! So Blessings to you on your travels…

Namaste

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.