Eat Slow

The slow food movement is underway. Now established in many countries around the world, the concept is simple: it’s not a good idea to rush through your meals. It’s actually much friendlier and much healthier to eat slower, eat relaxed and enjoy what you’re eating. To actually notice what you’re eating and appreciate it. Imagine that! For example, could you honestly recite what you had in your last meal? No? Why am I not surprised? Most people couldn’t. Or you got some of the details but not all?

So where were you that you don’t remember? You know there’s a really good reason why many convents and monasteries enforce a rule of silence at mealtimes, at least some of the time. You could take mealtimes as a meditation, concentrating on what you’re eating, appreciating it fully, with gratitude and a slight smile on your face. Now that’s a centring, grounding exercise.

There was an experiment done in a war-time setting, where the medics had to deal with a man whose stomach had been 1/2 blown away. Instead of repairing what was left of it completely, they installed a window on one side, just to be able to observe what actually went on inside the man’s digestive system – perhaps only for a short period, just in the interests of science. What they observed was remarkable. When the man was upset, the stomach looked like a storm sewer – everything was flying everywhere. No proper digestion was happening at all. They concluded that it’s not a good idea that you eat when you’re upset – at all!

It wasn’t that long ago that “slow down, take your time, chew properly.” was a frequent injunction. Doctors would actually advise patients to chew a certain number of times in order to achieve proper mastication and proper digestion.

I think in the interests of a friendlier, more relaxed world, we could all learn to eat slower, and enjoy it more. And if you’re upset – just go out and go for a walk and calm down, why don’t ja !

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Dreams

I was once teaching in a grade 5 class in mid-town Toronto and happened to get into what dreams mean – always a fun topic, but not something that’s spoken of in our classrooms. Even mentioning dreams is probably considered pretty risky. I would guess that most teachers have probably never taken dreams seriously and it would be rare to have a serious discussion about it in class time . Even though dreams can be one of the best ways to guide your life, if you pay attention to what the other side wants you to know .

Jewish tradition, for one, advises us that a dream uninterpreted is like a letter unopened. The well known psychoanalyst Carl Jung took his patients dreams very seriously, and did his analytic work in step with what the dreams were advising. Once when a business man he was advising, complained he didn’t have time to work with his dreams right away in the morning, that he was much too busy. Jung reprimanded him saying his priorities were all wrong, that the dream he’d just had was much more important than his busy business schedule.

So I asked for dreams in this class – and as usual several children put up their hands willing to share what they remembered. As you may have experienced – dream don’t always stick around long. That’s why we’re always advised to write down our dreams as soon as we remember them. One analyst described them as slippery fish that you need to catch right away . Dreams are coming from a long ways away – and unless you catch them quickly they’re liable to slip from your mind right back into the unconscious. So considering how fleeting they can be, if you remember a dream you can be sure it’s for a reason & well worth writing down and remembering.

So one young boy told us his dream saying “I was crawling through a big tube on my hands and knees. I crawled and crawled and at the other end I came out stupid”. Interesting”, I commented, “And tell me honestly now, how much TV do you watch?” He froze as if he’d been struck by lightening. His hand went to cover his gaping mouth and he let out a gasp. “Lots” came back the answer. “Maybe too much”. He understood that ‘the boob tube’ was controlling his life and his capacity to think clearly. And this was even past the era when the expression “boob tube” was ever mentioned.

So good night and sweet dreams!

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Love and Marriage

Love & Marriage

“go together like a horse and carriage,

This I tell ‘ya brother you can’t have one without the other.

Love & Marriage, …… it’s an institute you can’t disparage,

Ask the local gentry, they will say it’s element’ry

Try, try, try to separate them, it’s an illusion.

Try “ “ and you will only come to this conclusion:

Love & Marriage ……. go together like a horse and carriage.

Dad was told by mother: You can’t have one, you can’t have none

You can’t have one without the other.”

So Love & Marriage are stuck in this awkward relationship, taken to be universal, taken to be the norm, taken to be The Right way of doing things. The Conversation with God book questions that assumption. And when you look at it closely there’s several things that don’t actually fit right – the 2 are only peripherally related. On the one hand it’s a legally binding agreement, important for establishing paternity, important for defining property rights. But just what does it have to do with your deepest feelings? You can’t confine a feeling, no matter how deep, to a set of rules and legal expectations. These are 2 very different things. We’ve bound them so closely that we have a whole set of tragic scenarios that follow if your partner “cheats” on you. You’re entitled to feel mortally wounded, personally offended, rejected to the core of your being.

It used to be called an open marriage in the last generation, now it’s referred to as the poly-amorous movement. – where you are free to have a friend of either sex outside your family circle. They argue quite reasonably that just as a child might love their brother/ sister but still have a really close friend at school, the 2 are not mutually exclusive. Do marriages really need the exclusivity of possession of another human being to be solid?

Hmm? Something to consider.

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I’m Beautiful

Once upon a time many years ago when I was taking a dream interpretation course in Toronto with my teacher Emy Allavena, in one session one of the middle aged women who was usually very particular about her appearance came into class with no eye makeup at all – explaining she had an eye infection and couldn’t use anything on her eyes for now. She shrugged her shoulders exclaiming: “well this is the real me!”

“No it’s not!” countered our teacher. “The real you is healthy, happy, joyful and beautiful!” – rather astonishing the class. What she was saying was that we all need to begin seeing our real true attributes. To look beyond appearances, and see ourselves as loved and beautiful, and fully happy in our lives, completely healthy – despite temporary appearances and despite outside reactions. We need to feed ourselves with the real reality of beauty and joy and love.

Ramtha says essentially the same thing: You can affirm right where you are and in whatever condition you’re in, that you are immortal, that your NOW is forever. You do not need to affirm your mortality as most people do, I’ve even heard it said that most people die because they expect to. Cut out all mention of death and you can live forever in this NOW.

There was a dream by a woman in my teacher’s family in Rome that her family were living in a place where there was a coffin right in the middle of their living room. And whenever they passed through there, they had to manoeuvre their way around the coffin. Meaning the idea of death is a constant in everyone’s living space, and whatever we do we have to take our mortality into consideration. That’s what most people think, even though it doesn’t have to be that way We could choose to be beautiful and healthy &expect to live forever. Just because everyone believes something doesn’t make it true

My Spiritualist church pastor tells the story of an uncle who was in hospital dying of cancer. One day he got up, got dressed and went out for a paper. The next day he got up, got dressed and left the hospital for good, never to return. Years later while he was out playing with his grand kids and chopping wood on his land, his wife asked him – when you were in hospital dying, did you ever think you’d still be out here chasing after your grand kids and even chopping wood? He said “I thought of nothing else”. Evidently a different expectation brought a different result.

So evidently we can influence our future by the attitude we assume – so be beautiful, and feel healthy and feel loved, and live as long as you like.

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It takes a village

It takes a village to raise a child. Ours might be the first generation with such a large number of single parent families. Historically it’s really unheard of, you know. The pressure on a parent to stay together “for the children” was pretty considerable in previous generations. Options for divorce or separation were limited – limited by church rules, by family traditions, by cultural norms and most importantly by income. A single mother living alone with one or more children is likely to be living in poverty, or on the verge of. Even though the gap between male and female incomes is slowly collapsing, a sizable gap still remains even today.

The ability of anyone, male or female to raise a really well-rounded, psychologically and physically healthy child, are, sad to say slim. No? Look around you, how many perfect parents do you know? When you have 2 parents trying to make the best decisions for their offspring – well even then there are lots of 2 parent families that make major mistakes there, ending up with traumatized, psychologically damaged children. But to put all the responsibility of raising a new human being on just one individual – well, you get the point.

It always astounded me that all women I know line up quickly to take the latest pre-natal course, once they’re pregnant. But once the child is born – very few of them take any chid-rearing training. So the default position is that you raise your children the same way you were raised – good, bad or ugly.

Our knowledge has advanced considerably in the last 100 years – and one could say that we do have it in our hands the answers as to how to raise healthy, happy children. But lack of commitment, the high rate of unsupported single parent families, large income gaps and many other factors contribute to producing children who are irresponsible, without a solid moral and ethical base, lacking the right skills for moving forward in what they want to do.

As one suggestion I would put forth the possibility of several like groups to live together, instead of single moms/ dads living each in their own small apartment by themselves, to band together – for safety, for sharing of resources, and possibly entrepreneurial ideas, for sharing of child-rearing ideas, for company. It does take a village to raise a child – let’s start expanding our private homes idea to more communal modes of living & sharing &raising our children.

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To Speak or not to speak

So I’m sitting next to this guy in a large packed auditorium – 500 people plus. No extra chairs – glad I flagged the one I’m on. Glad, till I take a deeper breath, and “Oh my! What’s that smell?” The young man’s body smelled.

So chances are that he lives alone, no roommates to comment on it, or spouse who’d be raising a fuss for sure. No, I imagine he just doesn’t realize that he smells. So I should say something, soon? But seats were rare, no easy escape, so I ended up sitting next to him the whole day and I fought with myself whether or not to say something.

Now given that we’re polite Canadians and keep our mouths closed in iffy polite situations, maybe it’s time to reexamine our habits here. Maybe we should start to get less polite and more honest now – for where exactly does our politeness get us?

Say you’re in a coffee shop with a few friends – all intelligent, sharp people, articulate. But one person has the floor and is going on and on and on and on. And no one has the gumption to speak up and cut him off – however politely it’s done. By the slight restlessness around the table – you can really tell that his turn was up awhile ago already,

In one of the Right Use of Will books, it’s suggested that that’s one of the things that’s wrong with our planet right now. That too often we really don’t say what we actually mean, just for the sake of politeness. And for what? Maybe this person really had to hear what it is we have to say, maybe he really doesn’t realize this something about himself, possibly even something quite important, that he hadn’t noted before.

The other day I had occasion to point out to a colleague, that how he reacted to an annoying person from another group was a definite sign of what Jung called a “complex”. Since the annoying person didn’t strike anyone else in our group as annoying, indicated some personal issue was being triggered by the other’s actions – triggering some person issue that my friend hadn’t yet noticed or dealt with. (an issue that I’d noticed he’d had for quite some time). The upshot was that the man’s avoided me ever since

But I spoke up. I think we all should more often.

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Dead man walking

Dead man walking

My mother comes from a small village in Latvia. As I was growing up this is a story that she related occasionally to the family, which she says was true.

One day, a man who used to live in this village was returning to it, after many years absence. Walking up the pathway to the village he met a man that he recognized who was leaving the village going in the opposite direction. They greeted each other as old friends and chatted awhile.

They were interrupted by the sound of large crowd of people walking in a procession not far away. They were walking up a hill closely carrying something. They were making all kinds of noise, crying and carrying on.

“What’s that?” the man who had been away awhile asked his friend.

“Oh that? That’s just some manure they’re carrying away!”

Rather surprised by this answer, the visitor thanked his friend and continued on into the village. The second man continued to walk away.

When the visitor entered the village he asked again about the noisy procession. He was told it was a funeral – and not just any funeral. It was the funeral of the same man he’d talked to just a few minutes before. The same man he’d chatted with had actually just died and was being buried up on the hill. The man was left speechless.

So it would appear that life goes on and on and on and on… Onto the next chapter, onto another verse.

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God is not good

What do you feel the concept of God actually encompasses? Is God goodness? Many would say so. So if He’s the God of goodness, then He’s not the God of everything, only the good parts, right? So who’s in charge of all the rest? Another God? – well no! So if God is not Goodness, so what is He/She? Why don’t we just admit that our view of God / the Universal Life Force has just been too limited.

God is not just good. God IS. God is isness. God is everything that is, the good, the bad and the ugly. God is you. God is me. God is all of us together. That’s what the Hindus state when they meet and clasp their hands together and bow to each other, saying “Namaste!”: “the God in me bows to the God in you”.

Whenever we specify the God-Force as having certain qualities – we immediately restrict it’s applicability. The Lord God is mostly thought of as male – thereby immediately identifying it with the male side of the population, implying dominance, more power to rule, more intelligence, more rights.

Historically all our Divine images were female. This actually makes a lot more sense that a female energy would have birthed the Universe.

Interestingly enough the Pope some years ago, referred to God on the occasion of an important Camp David meeting of leaders, as a woman. He declared that God was even more Mother than Father – and made front page news all over the world. Not surprisingly he enjoyed one of the shortest reigns in Papal history.

Perfection is another trait Christians have attributed to God. “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect”. Now there’s an assignment! How to make everyone feel like a failure right out of the gate – sinful, guilty, ashamed. Christian philosophy has been particularly useful in promoting fear, guilt, eternal punishment, powerless, unworthiness, smallness.

Our image of God has a lot to do with how we live our lives. So pick yours well.

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God is not Goodness

Many of us were raised hearing;” Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” On the one hand we could take it as the encouragement to be more than we are. But really? Perfect? That’s hardly a realistic expectation of anyone, short of sainthood. Hardly appropriate to be an actual measure of what we expect of our children, or anyone in our charge. That we in the West have been saying that for centuries is just more proof of how useful/ useless our Christian theology has been for us. Such a statement breeds fear. It breeds guilt. It breeds powerlessness. It breeds unworthiness. It breeds smallness.

How we picture our God has a lot to do with how we live our lives and how we feel we fit into the Universe. Imagining God, the Source of all reality as male, limits our reality right there. If we ourselves happen to be female, the image of God as male is already a limiting belief. Historically though, the earliest images of Divinity were all actually female. And it would actually make more sense that the Origin of all reality, the energy that birthed reality be female.

Interestingly not that long ago during an important Camp David summit, saying a prayer prior to the occasion, the Pope at the time declared that God was even more Mother than Father. He was one of the shortest reigning Popes of all time. Rumour has it that he was murdered shortly afterword. It seems that there are many parts of our society highly invested in things staying just the way they are, thank you!

So how do we define God? Whether we picture God as male or female is only one dimension of the whole reality. Why don’t we just admit that our picture of God has been way too limited. As we mature as spiritual beings so must our grasp of the ultimate reality change as well. So if God is not goodness, what then? God is not good. God is. God is isness. God is everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. God is everything that is. God is you, God is me. God is all of us together. That’s what the Indians are saying when they put their hands together and bow in the greeting “Namaste”: “the God in me, bows to the God in you.” Amen to that.

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Talk to the Animals

Let’s! Some people can, you know. There’s even those that give courses on it. One woman who was interviewed on Coast to Coast, reported an incident of falling off a horse into a small stream and hitting her head. When she got up she realized something had shifted and suddenly she could understand what the horse was thinking. He was upset because no one had ever fallen off him before, and now the owners might send him to a special camp for re-training. So it seems that direct communication is indeed possible.

I’ve had a few interesting experiences with birds that way – where I was given a lesson or a message by their behaviour.

At a time when I was in contact with my dream-interpretation teacher, I had occasion to watch a bird cleaning/grooming itself in my backyard. Not unusual, but the persistence of it was – he went on and on and on, till everyone in my family noticed and remarked on it. When I reported this to my teacher, she just said: “Well, dear, that’s for you”. IE. I myself needed cleaning up, and lots of. Ouch!

Another time we’d had difficulty with squirrels getting into the bird feeder and decided to just take down the feeder altogether. After a few weeks I return home one day through the back gate and see something remarkable. Sitting on the fence right beside where I had to walk, chest high, was a long line of birds sitting beside each other – all with their heads turned towards me, staring, expectant. I paused for a moment, a little taken aback, then I got it. “ok, ok, I get it !” There was no arguing what the congregation was about. The bird feeder went up the next day.

On yet another occasion I seemed to be encouraged to go on a longer car trip to Long Island, New York, to participate in a channelling at Pathways to Health. An usual bird sitting just outside my window was singing and singing. When I slowly approached him telling him my problem and asking him the question of should I go? He stopped, turned his head to look at me. Shook himself vigorously and took off. I went.

As Rex Harrison (Doctor Doolittle) would say:

If we could Talk to The Animals just imagine it,

Chatting to a chimp in chimpanzee,

Imagine talking to a tiger, chatting to a cheetah,

What a neat achievement it would be.

If we could Talk to The Animals, learn their languages,

Maybe take an animal degree.

We’d study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle,

Alligator, guinea pig and flea.

We would converse in polar bear and python,

And we would curse in fluent kangaroo,

If people asked us “Can you speak rhinoceros?”

We’d say “Of scours-er-os! Can’t you?”…

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