Welcoming the Unwelcome I am in Florida spending the holidays with my spry 84-year-old mother and her equally spry 88-year-old second husband, who have been together for 10 years, having fallen in love in their seventies. Though life is slow and we don't wander too far from home anymore, I see how their active, positive minds are keeping them young and relatively healthy. They take their vitamins, don't eat much meat, and stick to small portions of fresh foods. Yet all is not idyllic in their world; Christmas Eve day, his elder son decided to come visit, at the last minute, inviting himself to dinner, to stay overnight, and sit in on present-opening Christmas Day — though we had no gifts for him. He also brought with him his ill-trained Great Dane. My mother despises these visits, as she feels she must cook, make up a fresh bed, and cater to his needs while he has never once brought a thank-you gift, offered to help, or taken them out to dinner as a gesture of gratitude. In addition, his dog gets up on all the furniture, puts its face close to your plate at the dinner table, and eats her best Christmas ornaments, all without a word of discipline from the son. She was seething underneath the surface, and I was being drawn into it with her.The son is sweet, but out of touch with the social graces, which comes off as basically arrogant. I decided that this is Christmas, after all, and I would simply do what I could to be kind to him, his no-boundaries dog, and my mother, who was working herself into a tither. The effect wasn't too perceptible on the outside, but I could feel the subtle differences in the tension in my heart and chest as I oscillated subtly back and forth from judgmentalism and irritation (merger with my mother) to a more neutral softness as I allowed the situation to be just what it was. I don't know if my energy touched any of the others in a meaningful way, but I was educated about the tiny shifts we can all make in our emotional postures, about the benefit of living free of irritation.
Photo by Penney Peirce
Thinking vs. Being; Words vs. SilenceI have been thinking about thinking lately. How the self-generated yakketyyak only stops when we read a book, listen to the radio, or watch television, substituting other voices for our own. Occasionally, we meditate and have a modicum of success at suspending the static. The last few days I read the stacks of back issues of the various journals I get, looking for articles on particular subjects, and finally tossing what wasn't pertinent. By the time I was finished reading all the various experts — some highly intellectual and wordy, some new-agey and wordy, some with what they thought were brilliant insights, and a rare few who spoke simply and clearly — I was ready to never talk again! I did find, however, a blurb from Gangaji's book, The Diamond in Your Pocket, where she describes her discovery that she was the beingness that runs through everything. She says, ". . .there occurred a remarkable shift of attention from my story of being to the endless depth of being that had always existed underneath the story. . . Finally, I realized that whatever I thought was always only a thought, impossible to rely on because it was subject to conditioning and disappearance. In the discovery of truth, thought could no longer be trusted. Thought could no longer be master. The previous fear of not knowing was transformed into the joy of not knowing. To not know was the opening of my mind to what could not be perceived by thought. What profound release!" These words feel so clean and catalytic. We really don't have to use so many words. What cannot be perceived by thought? Let us put down our cell phones and be still.
Orbs and Pom-PomsI met with one of my Japanese friends, Yoshie Usuba (who took this picture) who was in town the other day, a successful professional woman who is also highly intuitive and sensitive to energy. For many years she has been taking photos with her digital cameras and finding circles of light all over them. At first she thought it was a camera anomaly, but it happened with every camera she used. Sometimes there was one large sphere of light in the image, and other times, as when she photographed a large fashion show or a Buddhist ceremony, there might be hundreds, of all sizes, scattered over the whole image like water bubbles. She fondly calls them "pom-poms" and has been collecting the images for years. Now, I discover that my publisher is doing a book on this phenomenon — it turns out it is quite widespread — and in the US the images are called "orbs." In fact, there is a conference on Orbs in Sedona in April. Are these things related to crop circles? Are they manifestations of collective consciousness? My friend has closeups of large ones and they show distinct mandalic patterns at their core, as well as spirals. Are nonphysical beings imprinting their energy on our digital media? This is intriguing to me, and I wonder if it only happens to people who are somewhat "conductive" in nature, who have a particularly receptive energy field...
The Highly SensitivesI was listening to Thom Hartmann on Air America the other day and he related a study I found interesting. He was talking about the huge numbers of people in our society who now take anti-depression medication. One man's doctor had prescribed it for him to help him quit smoking, and he felt so good, he just kept on with it. Why don't we allow ourselves to feel "depressed"? One of my wise friends used to say that depression was biologically-induced meditation. There's always a good reason behind our emotional contractions. If we go into the density instead of taking a happy pill or dulling ourselves with alcohol, we can permanently dissolve the ideas we hold that are not in alignment with our soul's truth. And we can gain amazing insights. And then we get real joy.
The study showed that in a normal community of chimpanzees, a certain percentage — the same percentage as in humans — acted "depressed." The people doing the study then carefully removed the depressed animals from the group. Instead of becoming ebullient and upbeat, the chimp community created the exact same percentage of depressed animals again. It turns out that these community members are the highly sensitive ones, and they are responsible for keeping the rest of the group safe and alert. Among other things, they sense approaching danger and are the ones to scream out. I like the connection between being highly sensitive and seeming depressed compared to other more "normal," perhaps less aware members of society. Perhaps we need to re-examine the whole phenomenon of depression and view it with spiritual eyes and a mind that understands the subtle dynamics of energy and consciousness.