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 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.

Commuter Stress Management – Celebrating Beauty

I had a brief visit with “Mr. Scruffy” as I rode in to work one day. It was good to see him. He was perched on his regular lamp post as he scanned his domain. I was blessed to live on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound, northwest of Seattle, WA. The Northwest has many beautiful sights to behold. There are the Olympic Mountains, the Cascade Range, the San Juan Islands, the Puget Sound itself, and the many types of wildlife that grace our landscape. In my neighborhood, there are at least 30 Bald Eagles that live much of the year within about 5 miles of my home.

That day, I set a new eagle spotting record, for me, as I drove to work in Coupeville. I counted 7 eagles perched in various trees along my way. There were 5 white crowned mature eagles and 2 immature eagles. I was looking for them on my familiar drive into the office. With every sighting my heart felt joy and I felt that nature was allowing me a special moment. (FYI, I have become familiar with some of my special neighbors and my wife and I named “Scruffy” because he appears older and unkempt compared to some of the younger mature eagles we see. But know that “Mr. Scruffy” is beautiful when he flies. He reminds me of Peggy Fleming, the ice skater, because he is graceful, elegant and without wasted effort as he soars the winds over Whidbey Island.)

I am in my tenth year of living in the Northwest, having moved from Sonoma County in California’s “Wine Country.” Sonoma County is also a beautiful place to live, though traffic and increasing population has added challenges to that part of our world. There are no Bald Eagles in my old neighborhood, but there were many other magnificent features of nature. Sonoma County has grand Redwood trees, amazing coast line, rolling pasture lands, oak grass lands, and of course, the vineyards that are picturesque any time of the year. Though I am vigilant when I am driving, I celebrate the beauties of the natural world when I drive down all but the most congested of roads.

In my first book, I coached “commuters” to play a game as they drive to or from work. Within the common sense limits of safety, I ask them to look out into their world and notice something new on every commute. Or, I ask that they find an aesthetically pleasing natural, or even man made, object to celebrate. Perhaps a pleasing or unique cloud formation or a classically designed house or building. Maybe a special vehicle drives by. Or for me, the noticing of birds or wildlife makes me appreciate the present moment of time. And that is the lesson… release your thoughts of past or future events and bask in the present moment, in a “positive” way. Smile as you celebrate the sharing of a special and unexpected sighting. At the end of your commute, whether arriving at work or at home, you will feel less stressed and better focused to get on with the next activities of your day.

This technique may not work as well in speeding Los Angeles freeway driving or when gale force winds threaten to blow your car into another lane of traffic but in many other situations turning your focus to something positive and being in the “present” can create a better commuter experience. I challenge you to find, and then celebrate, the best sights that you might encounter upon your commute. Find beauty or find the most interesting things that you experience along your way. Try it. It works!

Drive carefully and DO NOT TEXT MESSAGE while driving, ‘cause that is dumb!

For more stress management suggestions which can assist you as a commuter, go the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com