How to live

“You don’t know how to live, really live! You’re all far too busy and stressed” my dream teacher was told in a dream.

Covid’s done a lot of us a huge favour. It’s forced us to sit back and look around at our lives – maybe for the 1st time ever, we’ve been forced into ourselves. Some people panicked and complained of mental distress. Some people suicided. And some began to look around their lives and ask some hard questions – do I really want this husband ( divorces are way up), this job (chance to try a new direction), this house (moving out of the city is becoming a real option). Options that our “normal” lives would probably not have allowed for. Time to look deep into our options.

It stretched our imaginations, stretched our inner lives, stretched our real selves, stretched us as human beings. Realizing we really were human beings, not just human doings.

In China, my Qi Gong instructor tells me, they see your energy field as the real reality. Whereas in the West, we see only the outer structure of our lives as the real reality. The inner energy field, which we can feel but we can’t see, we regard as “airy-fairy woo-woo”. But we will one day discover that our outer reality is really created by our inner reality.

My dream teacher was walking up her street in Forest Hill some years ago when she heard a young girl further up wailing and crying and carrying on. Rather astonished and annoyed as it went on and on, she was finally told “that’s you”. Oh! Seems she had been upset about something and this girl’s crying was just a manifestation of her own upset in her outer reality. Quite the lesson!

Our inners are the originators of our outers. Our inner lives should be the focus of any change we want to bring into our lives. And it starts with a feeling – what is it you really want to do now with your life – what do your feelings tell you, what really makes you happy. Campbell always said, ”Follow your bliss”. It’s a good start!

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Getting upset more

You start to die. For real. Deepak Chopra doesn’t mince words. When you’re upset, there’s a progressive pattern of organ shutdowns that occurs, which begins as soon as you start to get upset, even a little bit. This is actually a natural consequence of feeling that you’re in danger. People are generally blase about what happens when you get upset, I imagine because getting upset is so common, and being under stress/ in fear is something that’s a usual everyday occurrence.

We all know that when you’re in fight or flight mode, what happens isn’t good. As soon as your adrenals start to work overtime and release adrenaline throughout your body, there is no part of you that isn’t affected. Your heart starts racing and your blood pressure starts to go up and up and up. Your brain functions are limited, lowering your ability to reason clearly. The pre-frontal cortex is starting to shut down, raw emotions take over: acting irrationally is the tendency here. Sweating increases. Blood flows freely to the limbs (ready for fight/flight). Your immune system starts to shut down. (Healing isn’t necessary when you’re about to be eaten). Every function not directly involved in fighting or flighting begins to shut down. Every single organ is directly affected. No wonder Deepak Chopra says that when you get upset you start to die.

I remember standing in the hospital hallway as my thesis director was dying and listening to the recitation of organs shutting down: well, now his liver is gone- ok so now his pancreas is no longer functioning…

This is not meant as an anatomy lesson – it’s meant to reorient you to seeing getting upset as a serious threat to your life. And to get a different perspective on how you behave in a difficult situation.

In our education system, educating the emotions has certainly not been a priority and training children how to cope when they’ve been insulted or hurt or harassed has been slow to be addressed. “Grin and bear it,” was actually the understood advice not so long ago. In the ’50s on the school-grounds, you would often hear: ”sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me”. In other words, there were a lot of verbal sticks being thrown around, that were expected to be ignored. not actually dealt with
.
There’s an old Chinese saying on how to react when faced with something upsetting, that goes something like: Consider now, how much harm can this really do? Perhaps his understanding is limited. Perhaps he doesn’t know better….etc.

In this Covid period, we could all now reorient our lives to include serious ”me” time: self-reflection, relaxation that includes creative endeavours – drawing, playing music, building something, nature time, etc. (not more TV time). More inner time, more spiritual possibilities, more inner growth. And starting to learn to rise above those little upsets.

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Getting Upset

Carl Jung called it a complex – when you get upset at something which may seem to others to not be anything out of the ordinary. What’s being activated is something that’s outside your conscious awareness, something within yourself that you have neither noticed, nor made efforts to resolve.

I remember one PTA meeting where the woman who was speaking, was standing, addressing the small assembly, going on and on about something that was wrong with the school system. I don’t remember the issue, the only thing I remember was how upset she was and how uncomfortable everyone was around her, restless and fidgety. Her audience had lost interest in what she was saying and was squirming to get out of this heavily charged emotional atmosphere. Almost as if they were all being subjected to some unseen poison that was invading the room, something that no one wanted to continue enduring.
Upsets are like that, wherever they happen, whoever they’re with, they hurt. They’re not right, they feel wrong. They feel destructive.

Yet we do that all the time. We even feel quite entitled to spew our upsets onto anyone, as if we had a god-given right to do so. Every right. Perfectly normal.

And yet we’re actually talking about ourselves – the destructiveness belongs to the one in the mirror and the target is quite rightly something that needs to leave. Yet we rarely see it.
“Oh I got so upset with him” is a common expression you hear.

My daughter was yelling at my grandson years ago. He was 4 and he’d just mislaid his Gameboy/ some handheld device, which was the latest thing to show off with at school, very expensive. It wasn’t even the child’s negligence or fault, because another adult had asked him to put it there. But it caused a major upset. I didn’t understand at the time, what was really going on. I only knew the child was being hurt unnecessarily. Because she was in fact very angry and critical and blaming. Upset way out of line with a little 4-yr.- old losing a toy. In retrospect, it was probably anxiety/ guilt about having spent so much money on this must-have toy, and actually, unrealistically, expecting the child to worry about losing it.

Same with my husband: he often would go on about lazy people. “Did you see that, the man actually takes a cab to the corner store – how lazy can you be!” Others couldn’t figure out what he was on about. “So?” But to him, it was outrageous, terrible! It was only long after, that it occurred to me that he felt he himself was lazy. So any other lazy person was the catalyst for the upset about something that was not fully realized in himself and needed first of all recognition and secondly correction.

They say one of the purposes of marriage is to have all your buttons pushed i.e. have all the things you haven’t looked at coming to the fore – to be corrected, I imagine, for you to grow up. But then the same would apply to children to some extent as well. To raise them, they trigger all your blind spots by pushing all your buttons.

No wonder we’re treating our children so badly – we haven’t grown up ourselves.

So next time you get upset at your child/ spouse – STOP! And as Thich Nhat Hanh tells us:
Take a deep breath and smile!
Then make a note of it in your journal and it goes on your Chopin Liszt. (your to-do list).

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Feeling

Feeling hasn’t had a particularly good reputation generally speaking. Understanding has always been honored and knowledge, of course. But sensing or feeling? – mmm- somewhat questionable. Something coming from your inner gut, from the far reaches of your mind, something not controlled by anyone but you. Nothing that can be known by anyone else. We’re talking here of both versions of the word – the gut feeling, the sense of intuition, the emotion.

In the YouTube video “The Feeling is the Secret” by Neville Goddard, we see the well-thought-out position stating that the feeling is probably the most important factor in getting what you want. And one to which we pay but scant attention normally. When someone asks you what you want, you could recite it off without any particular feeling tone or you could get into the emotion of having something wonderful that would mean a lot to you. WelL, Goddard maintains it’s the feeling tone and how much you indulge it that gets you where you’re going. Or reversely when you emote feelingly about something awful that happened and indulge in the awful feelings that evoke, you pull more of whatever awful thing occurred closer to you and increase the chances of it happening in your reality. We see it often: the hypochondriac that’s always sick, the woman living alone who’s terrified of getting broken into and assaulted who’s already had 2 break-ins. etc.

They say 7 min. is all it takes – 7 min. visualizing, with feeling, what you really want, to get you where you’re going.

Have you heard any of the Coved dress code jokes: “You don’t have to wear those pajamas all day long, you can just pick up your old clothes off the floor and wear those! No joke our dressing up is changing. Haven’t you noticed? You don’t have the same urge to dress up anymore. You get to put on what you FEEL like wearing, as opposed to what you’re supposed to be wearing. And maybe a little more of doing what you FEEL like doing even.

An odd thing happened to me yesterday, I was supposed to go to my chiropractor on Tues. Fine. I get ready, have breakfast, set on going. But then something happened, I just didn’t FEEL like going. Hm! But an obligation is an obligation, so with no great enthusiasm, I make the final preparations, out the door, on the bus, into the subway. As I’m waiting for the train something comes over me and I remember: what was I thinking about -doing what you feel like doing? Right! I really just do not want to go. So don’t!! ok. I make the phone call – no one’s there, leave a message, can’t come today. Get home. Message on my home phone awaits me: we’re canceling your appointment today. AH!!

Should listened to my feeling the first time!

Then there’s my $500 haircut story. Having just moved back into my mother’s house to help take care of her a few years back, I took the advice of a neighbour as to which hairdresser was good in our area. Fine. Drive there, park on the opposite side of the street, it’s 2:30 or so. Go into the place, get my hair done. Looks fine. Come out 2 hrs.later – look around, hm- no car! Yup! Got towed. Paid the fine on the car, paid $200. to get the car out of the lot it was towed to….you get the idea. The next time someone commented on my nice hair cut and asked“How much did it cost?”– I could honestly say $500. The kicker is that when I saw that same neighbour next, she said: ”You know after I hung up the phone with you that time, I got the strangest FEELING that I should call you back and tell you where to park!” (there was actually a small little parking lot very close to the shop.)

So follow your gut more often. That’s what I’m doing now.

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Rainmaker

Carl Jung used to ask all his students, whenever they were lecturing to a new audience, to always tell the story of the Rainmaker, he considered it so important.

Richard Wilhelm, was a Sinologist – an expert on China. He had the distinction of translating one of the oldest books in China : the I Ching – the book of divination.
He was living in a Chinese village at the time when they were in the midst of a drought. The villagers had tried everything – prayers, sacrifices, chants… nothing. No rain. “Well, they decided, we have no choice, we have to send for the rainmaker.”

And so they did. Now Wilhelm was very curious – what sorts of miracles could he perform, and what would this look like. So he made sure he was there when the man arrived. So up the road comes this cart pulled by a donkey with a little old wizened man inside. When the cart stopped, the old man put his head out, sniffed the air, made a sour face and asked to be put up at the edge of the village. Which they did. No one saw him for 3 days, and on the 3rd day it not only rained, it poured.

Well! Was Wilhelm impressed . He hurried over to see the old man in his hut, saying to him. “That’s wonderful, so how did you make it rain?” “ Make it rain? Me? What nonsense! I just saw, when I arrived that these people were so far out of themselves, that it took me three days to get back into myself. Then of course it rained!”

Jung insisted that this story be told as often as possible to illustrate how much control over our environment we actually have. How much of our lives really depend on our inner life and how settled we are in ourselves. Being calm, centred, and “in” ourselves is incredibly important for our own well being and the well being of the world around us.

One of the most important points I’ll be making when I present before the TDSB and the Provincial government regarding a new elementary school curriculum, is that inner time is just as, if not more important than outer time. To educate children to start to be aware of their inner life, not just be pulled hither and yon in their outer life, with obligations, and rules and demands, should and have-to and even increasingly more and more demands as they age.

There needs to be that balance in every life, the realization that the outer is merely the manifestation of the inner. And to determine to nurture the inner. To be “in themselves”.

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Let’s Quit Remembering

War is hell! You do things in war you’d never think of doing otherwise: rape, steal, murder… it’s a time that brings out the worst in human nature – the worst things that are not only recommended, they’re mandated.

Just like at Hallowe’en with regard to scaring others: “Happy Hallowe’en!” we cheerily say to each other, as if it’s perfectly normal to wish each other a happy frightening time – a time when ghouls, and blood and gore and things that go bump in the night are not only recommended, but mandated.

War is hell! My mother remembers walking out of Latvia following a retreating Russian army near the end of WWII. She had the distinction of following one of the last convoys to leave before the Germans came in- in her high heels no less & very pregnant.
Remembers hearing screaming women being raped in the night, seeing bloody bodies strewn everywhere contorted in horrendous ways.

Remember our glorious dead? Why don’t we rather remember the thousands killed in horrible ways and vow never to do that again.

Video games started when the Americans realized that there is a natural reluctance to killing your own kind. ( Surprisingly the antique guns from previous wars were tested and showed us that most of them had never been fired). They set out to change that by putting troops through killing practice to build their resistance to killing their own kind, via video games, in scenes of simulated killing. They succeeded. And the Vietnamese war that followed was recorded as one of the bloodiest in history. Another result was that now hundreds of thousands of our children are practicing killing in violent video games. Some of the killers that carried out mass shootings the past years have been video gamers. No connection of course.

Donald Trump for all his failings, was one of the few if not the first president who did not initiate any new conflicts during his presidency, but rather ordered many of the troops home, withdrawing from several battle arenas. That never gets mentioned. (Why would it? The latest numbers on the media coverage of the Trump presidency was that by one count 96% of their coverage was negative, by another 92% was all negative -New York Times)

In other words most presidents agreed with sending in thousands of troops to fight the good fight (so we’re told. for our good, worthy, glorious cause). Wars initiated by men (never women), who never had to sacrifice their own lives, thinking of the glory or shame of their own country. Hardly a lofty spiritual ideal. As Kryon put it – we’re still like little kids throwing stones at each other in the school yard. A fight is a fight, no matter how you cut it. As we mature as human beings we can see war for what it is. Stop glorifying those who fought and died in wars, prepping the next generation for the glory of going into battle for our next righteous cause.

I had a dream a few years ago where a well-dressed young man was demonstrating the idea of “war” by mime, to an audience who no longer understood the concept, and had no conception of what war was anymore. Because WAR WAS NO MORE. Passe, a forgotten concept we’d outgrown.

Why don’t we? Let’s try PEACE.
As Deepak Chopra said: take the vow of peace in your own life. Then we can all sing
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.


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Hallowe’en

So, you enjoyed Hallowe’en this year? Did you feel you were drawn to scary stuff ? Just a little bit? Take it as normal?  Most people do.
 
There’s a tendency to the thrill, the adrenaline rush. Much like the thrill of rubber necking after an accident.
 
But understand that encouraging the enjoyment of someone being frightened, is after all, a violence. A low level violence, of course, but still violence. Something one might need to feel fully alive – when you live in a  world of low empathy, a world where the feeling function has already been suppressed, and you enjoy the jolt of being frightened in order to feel really alive.
 
Taking an extreme example: look at the scenario of gangs of young people hanging out together, thinking that to beat up an a homeless drunk is fun. Rejects themselves, from dysfunctional families,used to  being put down and making the other feel small is a daily drug they take.
 
It becomes power and authority over feeling for each other. Raised in a power and authority atmosphere, and looking for love, you would of course gravitate to those who seem to care for you and  end up in a similarly dysfunctional group, learning even better how to put fear in others to make yourself feel powerful.
 
We take our version of Hallowe’en for granted because we’re used to the paternalistic power and authority model of relating as normal. The one who’s boss can put fear in everyone else. And by that gain control in the situation, gain more power. The one who shows empathy for others is seen as the loser, as losing power.  Having feelings or showing your feelings is seen as a weakness.
 
It’s no wonder that our education system has been slow to educate the emotional body: the mind  – yes, the physical body – yes-, but emotional? -a little suspect that. Even 10 years after EQ – emotional IQ was recognized, we still see precious little being done to educate our children emotionally.
 
But the bigger we grow spiritually, the more our feeling function develops, the more compassion we demonstrate and the less need we have to put fear in/ subjugate others. The less we enjoy seeing someone hurt or upset or in pain. Because we’re all one after all. What hurts/ is frightening for you also hurts me….hurts us all.
 
Instead of banning Trick ‘r Treating, let’s ban the frightening of children.
 
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Smile

When you smile, you’re effecting a change in your whole physiology and I would argue, in your whole world. When teaching a class I often have the kids put their hands up to their cheek bones and move that part of the face around a little. Because whenever that part of your face moves you’re activating the feel-happy endorphins that actually “ up” your immune response, that makes you feel better. You’re raising your face, you’re raising your immunity, you’re raising your mood – and as a result you’re also affecting change in everyone around you. It’s hard to be mad at someone who’s smiling at you. Smiles are catching, just like the measels, only a lot more fun.

I have a new mantra: Walk slower, stand taller, breathe deeper, smile sweeter. ( sounds like a good title for a book even). But smiling has began to take a central place in my life in recent years. I was raised a Catholic, and a good Catholic doesn’t smile much. Joy. I wouldn’t say it was central in any of the religions. My dream teacher once commented on that fact, by noting that Padre Pio used to say “a saint who is sad, is a sad excuse for a saint.” In other words, get over yourself and lighten up already!

Today I push myself to smile more ‘n more – it seems to change the whole feeling of the day and it’s something WE ALL HAVE CONTROL OVER. You really can choose to be joyful. So do!

Smiling hasn’t been on anyone’s curriculum and its lack is sorely felt. When I studied Theology – I found that the history of religion was full of blood and gore , hardship, and cross-carrying, sacrifce and misery. Little of joy to be seen there. “Ecce Homo” has shown us the image of a suffering Christ. This image has been hanging over us for centuries. With the coming of the New Age, that picture changes: the image of humanity going forward is now the picture of a beautiful, blossoming, colourful rose.The picture of joy!

Smiling is an attitude to life, it’s a willingness to engage, it’s a sincere expectation that life has all kinds of goodies waiting in the wings for you. And you fully expect the best. Fake it till you make it? Works well here too. Smiling has the same wonderful effect whether you mean it or fake it!

Thich Nhat Hanh in his book The Miracle of Mindfulness, says when you wake up, even before you open your eyes, “take a deep breath and smile” Also half-smile when you’re irritated, taking a few deep breaths…There’s a whole physiology that’s helping set you on the path of peace and mindfulness.

Betty White, who’s now 98 and counting, is a great example of a life well-lived – lived with joy and humour and full of life energy! Legendary star of “The Golden Girls”, television pioneer, talk-show host, actress, singer, comedienne extraordinaire, she’s widely known for her great spirit, energy, and sense of humour.”It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find humour in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a life-saver.” (from a Woman’s World Icons: Betty White).

People have told me “Betty, Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with old friends”.

My answer is: At my age, if I wanted to keep in touch with old friends, I’d need a Ouija board.

Smile. Happy looks good on you

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News plus

My take on the news has been that I’m uncomfortable with it. That’s clear. But until I heard Kryon on “The Broken Media” on You Tube (Aug 2020) I couldn’t clearly express what could change. I’ve been following Kryon for a few years already and his channelling through Lee Carol. You can also catch “Kryon Exposes the Media’s tactics…” May 2020

He’s right “the media don’t care to give us hope” Just a slight distortion makes all the difference between hope and despair. After telling everyone to stay home, they report that unemployment is the worst ever in all of history, as if we’d had a huge war and our infrastructure and all those jobs are gone. They’re not. Just say the word, and all those factory workers/ skilled/ unskilled labour ( or at least a good portion of them) are probably willing and able to get back to work. No, the media really don’t care to give us hope.

What about, as Kryon suggests, giving us all the numbers instead of just the numbers that died of Covid. Why not tell us the numers that recovered first, then tell us how many of the ones that died had pre-existing health conditions – is that part a secret? Because whenever I hear the opposing point of view, the first thing you hear is: “ Well you know the numbers aren’t accurate because they don’t report the ones who died according to how many of those had pre-existing health conditions.”

It’s a matter of taking personal responsibility when reporting larger events. So you found some garbage on the street and you’re going to now throw that garbage in every direction you can – declaring: here you are, this is how it is. I take no responsibility for this garbage. It is as it is. But it’s not. The way you choose to display that garbage IS your responsibility, as is the slant you put on it. No this is not just a neutral, impartial matter of naked facts. You need to also take responsibilty for how people feel after they read it. And right now the media are stoking the fear, uncertainty, and sense of helplessness. Kryon’s right, the higher suicide rate is probably directly caused by how the media have portrayed the situation – all doom and gloom.

I, for one, am very optimistic. I see so many good changes, and initiatives, and ideas. No we’re not going back to “normal” any time soon. And Thank God! for that. Everyone’s going through self-reflection, rethinking, restructuring. And each in our own little way, we’re beginning to see the light.

Also the numbers of Covid deaths have only recently been reported according to identifiable groups of people. The States have done better than us, in this, it seems. It’s downright uncomfortable to hear the numbers who died also being linked to stats on racial minorities, homeless numbers, deaths in shelters, marginalized communities , prison populations. But those numbers have just recently been released – up to now, the authorities haven’t even been classifying deaths by category. And why not?
Too uncomfortable to stare at closely? As in: No Covid deaths in the Bridle Path part of town. Hm?

Structural changes are being called for here. Why is it that we have such a large homeless population anyway? I heard one prediction about the future, that we wouldn’t have anyone homeless because people would just automatically open their doors to someone without a place to stay. There’s an idea. Could be! Why not report some good news for a change and spread a little hope too.

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News

The “if it bleeds it leads” news. The news seems to be structured much like our entertainment. One might have a little more reality than the other, but not by much. I’d say don’t indulge it, certainly not constantly and approach it with a bit of healthy scepticism. If a friend is telling you something new – you kinda know how to evaluate it. If something new is being reported on the news, well – it’s not likely that you really get the whole picture.

Driving back from New York city to Toronto a few years back I was flabbergasted to hear the same item being reported from the New York point of view, and then from the Toronto point of view a few hours later. If I hadn’t been holding onto the steering wheel I would have fallen down. It was the same event but what I heard was a totally different story from a completely different point of view. Needless to say I no longer believe everything I hear.

On completing Teachers College in Toronto, some colleagues and I, thought it a great idea to go to the Star with our story of what needed changing in the teacher education system. I’m sorry we did. The story that came out was skewed in a direction we hadn’t at all expected, and wasn’t what we wanted to say.

Entertainment is in a similar position. I no longer watch TV, if I can help it. Whose truth is being told anyway? As a supply teacher I had an opportunity to hear the dream of a grade 5 boy. He told us that he dreamt he was crawling through a big tube, and at the other end he came out stupid, When I asked him how much TV he watched, he drew in his breath and his hand went to his mouth. He realized exactly what it meant: quit with the excessive TV, or you grow up stupid. And I would say that sounds about right. When TV first emerged it really was commonly known as “the boob tube” – which, I might add, had nothing to do with the female anatomy.

We laugh at cults where they have megaphones blaring out messages 24-7 to an adoring fan base, but are we much different? Like, for example, who really speaks for Coved? Mixed messages often. Now choose sides on limited information Take the Hydroxychloroquine scandal. Trump’s information was that it helps cure the virus. No, said the opposition, what does “Dr. Trump” know, they laughed, he doesn’t. Then there was a You Tube video with a reporter with a goodly chunk of studies and evidence who lambasted Tam and Trudeau for not looking at the real evidence, before dismissing the Hydroxychloroquine–zinc remedy out of hand. Well it turns out a small village in S.America is now Coved-free after using it as their main remedy. Go figure.

So stop with the constant consumption of media and stop putting so much weight on all the messages being put out. The slant that is put on the information is weighted on the side of the negative. No wonder people are getting fearful and depressed. Suicides are up, depression is up, and divorces are at an all-time high.

Why not start spending more time with ourselves, our own thoughts and instincts, our own families and friends, and nurture our own inner knowing.

Time to rethink our structures, one and all! -our patterns, our governments, our presumptions and certainly our “if it bleeds it leads” media.

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