Saturday, December 31, 2016

Body Talk

I used to be prejudiced toward older people. Maybe I still am. I didn’t realize the prejudice existed. I thought I was cool and that I calculated people's value equally.

As I aged, the bias turned itself against me. I loved my flaming curly red hair, but at age 52, I felt the call of wild: “Go natural.” I cut my hair into a boy-like cut and waited for the salt and pepper. It wasn’t there. My daily mirror checks exposed a crop of white hair. I called myself Que-tip. I was one white-topped woman. One day a child pointed at me and asked his mom, “What is that grand mama doing?” I hold nothing against being a grand mom—really, I love it—but something snapped. That day I stepped out of my youth and became an older adult. I entered the youth of my old age.

I remember climbing the steps of the pyramids outside of Mexico City. I was greeted by an elder who said, “Welcome to the end of your youth.” I was 40 and wasn’t ready to give it up! I thought, “What does he know?” Twelve years later, I gave in. I was maturing.

I began to notice subtle changes in the way people looked at me. Maybe it was a projection, but people looked through me or past me as they hurried through their lives. As a younger woman, one who was often center stage, I was used to being noticed, but now, I receded to the sidelines of life.

My sister had a heart attack and I raced to LA to assist her recovery. When she returned home, she carried an assisted living package – a walker.  All of the sudden walkers were cool. I checked out the older passersby as I strolled through the streets of LA. I stopped and talked with people about their walkers. Behind these walkers were interesting people, not old folks. Again, my prejudices made themselves known. I previously looked down on people using canes and walkers, but now my contemporaries were using walking aids, wheel chairs, and scooters. As I awakened from a silent fog, I wondered, “How many filters and preconceived notions lurk in the dark corners of my mind? What thoughts do I look through that determine how I view others?” There’s not an answer; it was a moment of recognition: the mind has its secrets.

I’ve settled into my older years and continue to uncover and heal my prejudices. People don’t look at me the way they used to, but I’ve discovered that the transition from younger to older is not only about who I think I am; it’s about letting go of an image that I believed gave me some kind of advantage in life. No longer do I hold the success images of youth. I have less money; my wrinkled face watches the jiggles as I walk. Things hang off my body that previously stood at attention, but there’s a softness replacing the vigor of youth. There’s a knowing that I never was those things. I was never a body. I was never young or old. I was never my thoughts or beliefs. They were just an operating system. I was more, always more, and knowing that certainly makes my life EZier and EZier.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Money Relationship Healing

Our culture is fanatical about money. We believe there’s not enough. Even when we have enough in the moment, there’s a projection that our financial future will possibly be bleak. It’s like saying that a poisonous snake will jump out in front of us at any minute during the next 40 years, and we had better prepare. We give away our health, ignore our loved ones, and keep ourselves in overdrive in order to get more money. Our cultural mantra is “More money,” as if money could fix any problem we might face.

We judge people by how much money they have. Women seem to be more attracted to the power money brings than to the looks of a possible mate. We equate success with money and too often forget about the quality of our lives as the most important ingredient of success. Money is the god of our contemporary society.

Money is neutral. It is inanimate. It comes in paper, metal, plastic, and numbers on a computer screen. But if money is neutral, there shouldn’t be a problem, but there is. What is the real problem? The problem lies in our relationship with money. Most people have a dysfunctional relationship with money.

Once we have enough money to pay our bills and to live comfortably, our focus should move toward other kinds of activities, but it usually doesn’t. When it comes to money, there is a lot of fear. If we could heal our fears around money, the world would not only be a better place, greed would dissolve, and our lives could open to a greater happiness. Unfortunately, if our parents worried about money, we will probably worry about money too. Regrettably, we inherit worrying patterns from our elders – but relax, there is hope.

Here are some suggestions that can heal your relationship with money. Remember, having enough money to live a good life is wonderful, but building a life around money, robs us of our lives.

Suggestions for healing your relationship with money.
  • Recognize that money is innocent. It is not the root of all evil. It is a neutral means of exchange. It’s okay to have money.
  • Write a money worry payoffs page daily for one month. Complete the following: 5 Payoffs (benefits) I receive from worrying about money are:
Examples of payoffs would be:
    1. It’s a familiar habit and I identify with it and like to worry.
    2. My parents worried about money and I feel disloyal to them if I don’t worry about money.
    3. It feeds my addiction to drama and upset.
    4. It gives me something to complain about with others.
    5. Worrying about money is a game and I like to play it. (“Ain’t it Awful” is a game in which people talk about how awful things are. It could be money, the government, smokers, etc. The activity passes time, but people leave the conversation feeling uncomfortable. Games thwart intimacy.) If you prefer, write 5 payoffs for not having enough money.
  • Contemplate this thought for 5 minutes a day for 30 days. “I appreciate the money I have and I am okay with money.” See what comes up. Take notes. Rooting old beliefs from the subconscious mind helps free us from their power over us.
  • Make a pact with yourself not to worry about money for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, see how your experiment worked. Did anything bad happen because you didn’t worry? Were you able to break the habit?
  • We try to amass money to cover up feelings of lack. My free program “40 Days to Abundance” moves you from lack to abundance.
If you are constantly worried about money, and you have enough to meet your daily needs, I invite you to start the money relationship healing process. It’s never too late to improve your relationship with money, and when you do, you feel better about money, and your life will definitely be EZier and EZier.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Empathy Project

Undergraduate school is a blur, but a few things stand out. I took classes in recreation therapy and sometimes we took on the limits of the populations we would be serving, in order to experience a partial view of their lives and limitations.

We had to spend one class period breathing through a straw. This gave us some insight into people who suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It was tough, but it was an effective way to create empathy.

The most impactful experiment occurred when I spent a day on campus in a wheel chair. People ignored me, stared with pity, and I was faced the physical difficulties of living in a world built for those who could walk and run. That was more than 45 years ago, yet I vividly remember how marginalized I felt and the responses of the people who looked down on me or looked away as they passed by. I have never since looked at people who are wheel chair bound the same way. Now they are equals, and before, I was unaware of my prejudice. I felt sorry for people in wheel chairs; fortunately, I moved from sympathy to empathy.

In later life I experienced a simulated poverty experience – what is was like to live on minimum wage and have a dependent family. Another experience created living in the Middle East in a war zone. I experienced disease, lack of clean water, a punitive educational system, and the angst of not knowing where the next bomb would come from. I had to perform a surgery simulation with improper tools and spend time in a dark cave like area. I would hear a loud explosion, then the area shook as if a bomb was landing a few feet from where I was hiding.

We are isolated in our culture. We hang out with those of similar resources. We ride around in cars by ourselves when carpooling might give us a medium for developing or deepening friendships. We chose convenience and want to be sure we can leave when we want to and not have to wait on another. Our busy lives often dictate who we relate with and how we relate to others. But in that busy-ness, we lose a part of our hearts. We lose touch with humanity as we separate ourselves from the greater whole.

I’ve never ridden the transit system in Houston or the downtown train. I have no idea what it is like to live on the bottom or to have to rely on others or public transportation to get around. I am teachable and plan to ride the bus from The Woodlands to downtown Houston and ride the train around the city, just to view life from another perspective.

I challenge you to limit yourself in some way. The following suggestions are ones you might try. These experiments may give you an understanding of how others live and create a new dimension of compassion and empathy. You may want to get friends or family to join in your personal Empathy Project.

·       Bathe with a small pail of cold water each day for a week. You have to use this water to wash your hair and meet all your bathing needs. While this seems like a drastic experiment to some, there are many people who don’t have clean water to bathe in. While in India, at the foothills of the Himalayas, I had one small pail of water to bathe with. The temperature was in the 30’s F. during the day and my room was not heated. I didn’t bathe daily, but that experience not only gave me an understanding of what others endured, it exposed a sense of entitlement I had about water and showed how much of our precious resource I wasted. I actually felt clean after bathing with a limited amount of water. Try this. I think you will be shocked at what you might learn.

·       Talk to a homeless person. Ask them about their lives. Once I spent about an hour on a public street talking to a homeless man. I asked him how he ended up on the street. He had a long series of mishaps that led to his homelessness. He told me about his injured feet. I asked to see them. He took off his shoes and showed me his frost bitten and bleeding feet. I held them in my hands and sent them all the love and energy I could muster. I listened and I think in some way he was served because I saw him, really saw him. If you chose to do this, of course, be safe. I was on a very public street with others walking past. It is always imperative when we move outside our comfort zones, that we remember our personal safety.

·       Do not spend any money for a week except to buy food, pay bills, or to cover your transportation costs. This self-imposed money restriction plan provides insight into the limits under which 45 million Americans live. There is little hope in their future and they have no money to buy clothes, eat out, or for recreation. This experiment can also reveal toxic spending patterns.

·       Wear the same outfit all day for two days. You don’t change when you get home from work. You don’t wear special exercise clothes. Many people don’t have the luxury of choosing what to wear. See what it is like to live without a choice in your wardrobe.

·       Breathe through a straw for 10 minutes. How does it feel to have impaired breathing? This gives us empathy for those who have COPD and asthma.

Make up your personal experiments of voluntary suffering. In EZosophy we work to eliminate ego driven suffering, but when we choose to walk in the shoes of others, we expand our limited perspective. For more than I year I refrained from eating for ½ day a week. It was a fast for peace. While it may not have been the whole-hearted demonstration of Gandhi, it made the idea of peace real in a personal way.

Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy creates burden, but empathy opens the doors from which love flows. Challenging ourselves to move out of our comfort and convenience zones moves us into a place where we invite more than a few family members, colleagues, and friends into our hearts. As loves stirs and light shines into the hidden places and spaces in our lives and hearts, we can be sure that life will be EZier and EZier.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Supreme Okay

I stood in my closet and surveyed my clothing options. As always, at this time of the year, I wear shorts. The sweltering weather squeezes the life out of everything, so I dress in the coolest clothes possible. My two books were complete and my trip to Charleston was delayed due to the hurricane. The day leisurely stretched before me and even though I had several maintenance tasks planned, I wanted the exuberance of living to tap me on the shoulder and lead me into a new adventure. I was ready for the promised land of life. As I rummaged through a neatly stacked assortment of shorts, I uttered a prayer. I believe there's always a preferred path of doing, and I ask frequently for guidance to that path. I asked “What would you have me do?” Almost immediately I realized I was asking for some important task to fill each moment and wanted that task to bestow meaning and purpose on the day. Cleaning my bedroom would only take a few minutes. I would complete that task and then follow the direction of spirit. After making the bed, I could do the real work.

Immediately, my heart overflowed with joy. I felt unending peace. I was filled with a voiceless burst of knowing that it didn't matter what I did. All I needed to do in any endeavor was to be present and aware. There was no secret plan of doing; there were no special tasks that would make life right. Meaning and purpose exist regardless of the task, and I take meaning and purpose to the task. It’s not the other way around; the task itself creates no meaning. What relief; I wasn't missing some necessary secret formula for happiness that could only be found through some mysterious magical mission. All I ever had to do was bring love and presence into every action, thought, and deed.

I cleaned up the bedroom, no longer thinking of the activity as meaningless. I was filled with wonder as the sunlight danced on the floor, and I marveled at the ingenuity and craftsmanship of my dresser. The need to be important and do important things vanished and took with it the relentless burden of effort. I stood in the presence of completeness, wholeness. I was in and of spirit. Invisible Presence stood with me. All dimensions of life supported a Reality of which I was an integral part. Time dissolved as I embodied life and rested in Life’s deep pleasure. I was home again.

I know that Radical Presence brings meaning and fulfillment to each moment, but that knowing becomes an intellectual knowing rather than an actual realization. It seems like a cat-and-mouse game of forgetting and remembering. How could I forget that each instant is imbued with optimum Okayness? But I do forget, more times than I can remember.
In 1997 I had an awakening to the Supreme Okayness that lasted several years. It was such an all-encompassing knowing that I closed my spiritual center, Connection, and embarked on a journey to discover how to live when I wasn't chasing enlightenment or trying to improve myself. I was already who and what I wanted to be and I didn’t have to study in order to fix life nor did I have to discover myself. I was free to enjoy life. As the years passed, the light of knowing dimmed and brightened and life became a series of waking up, going to sleep, and reawakening.

While being asleep can have its moments—after all, the ego’s circus is alluring and can be quite entertaining—nothing can compare to the sheer joy of awakening to Presence. Maybe at some Divine level we purposely arrange to go to sleep so we can experience the joy of re-emergence into the sacred. Are we like kids who thrill to the ride of a Ferris wheel or a roller coaster? After all, waking up is the consummate spiritual ride and we love it.
All this conjecture is to say, “Make it easy on yourself.” The next time you fall off the spiritual wagon, never fear: at some point you will unexpectedly fall back into the truth of your being. The inner alarm is set to go off intermittently and you won’t be left to your slumber too long. Once you venture onto the path of your Being, you will never be alone again. You will be guarded and guided as you explore the vast unknown. We all need help. We are Infinite Beings squeezed into a finite living space – the body. It’s a tricky situation, but we are safe. The Supreme Okayness reigns in every situation. Get used to it. You can’t escape it. Your only assignment is to count on it, and, when you do, you will always find that life is EZier and EZier.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Affirmation, Inspiration, and Vision

"The universe flows in perfect orchestrated harmony. That flow provides a moment-to-moment individual plan for my life. The plan is already active. When I rest in the stillness, my plan reveals itself. I am pursued and captured by divine impulse and that impulse creates right activity and perfect timing. It is so and I am so blessed."
-- Anne Sermons Gillis

"The mind paralyzes; the heart realizes. The mind intellectualizes; the heart experiences. The mind dictates; the heart allows. The mind dictates; the heart allows. The mind rebels; the heart consoles. The mind narrows; the heart illuminates.” (All references to the mind refer to the “egoic mind.")
-- Anne Sermons Gillis

"Since the mind has no way of knowing how the Universal Law (aka GUS God/Universe/Spirit) is going to deliver your miracle, don't just waste time trying to figure it out; just know! Your thoughts should be like acorns that develop gradually into oaks. If you dig them up to see how things are going, your tree will perish. It's important to avoid fretting. Center on the feeling that someway, somehow, the Universal Law will not let you down because everything in the universe is energy."
-- Stuart Wilde

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Keeping Tabs

Too often we keep tabs on the problematic issues in life. It’s a limited viewpoint: life is a problem. This is how we make life hard. This is how we become Hardaholics – through our perceptions. For numerous companies, Y2K was problematic, but for hundreds, if not thousands, of well-paid programmers, Y2K was a job. It meant employment.

Rather than building problems with our minds, we might do better building emotional and mental scenarios of gains, rather than those of loss.

Please consider playing some of my favorite building games:
  • Expected and Unexpected Income I start the day with this thought: “Today I receive expected and unexpected income.” Each day I keep tabs on my income, based on that intention. Recently I found $12 between some papers. One day a friend gave me a book. Another day we got one free bag of dog food for making our tenth purchase. That same day we received a free bottle of flax seed oil. My husband was told by a store worker that the store did not carry flax seed oil. My husband checked out, but before he left, the employee caught up with him and handed him a bottle of flax seed oil. “I was wrong. We had it. Just keep it for free.” That was $10.00 worth of oil
  • What good happened today? At the close of the day, review what happened and find at least one good thing that happened that day. Let the last thing on our minds be a life-supportive thought.
  •  Synchronicities of the day Synchronicity means meaningful coincidences. One of my most profound incidences of synchronicity happened when I was explaining the concept of synchronicity to a client. “If I am saying something to you and a tree falls in the backyard, that would be a sign that what I am saying is important. It would be as if the tree falling was the Universe’s way of saying, ‘Listen’.” As I was saying that, a tree fell in the backyard of my office. There was a window in my office, so we had a clear view. The falling of the tree pointed out that synchronicity would probably be important in her life. These events are magic and they make wonderful journal material.
  •  Keeping up with the miracles – the small ones. A miracle could be changing the way I react to something. The behavior or activity that used to upset me no longer disturbs me. Another miracle would be a deep feeling of peace even in the face of a loss. I remember flying home for my father’s funeral and feeling uplifted on the journey. It felt like invisible arms were holding me. A miracle can be meeting an influential friend or turning to the very page in a book that you needed to read for information or inspiration. Maybe it’s a good night’s sleep when you are an insomniac. Look for those miracles.
  •  Keeping tabs on me This involves taking a second throughout the day to feel what it’s like to be me, when I feel me, and I connect my mind and body. “Oh, here I am.” I check in throughout the day and it keeps my mind from too much chatter and calms me. Simple task; profound results.
  • Keeping tabs on my breath I check my breath during the day. Just noticing my breath makes me sit up straighter and breathe deeper. If I’m holding my breath or have shallow breathing, it tells me I’m stressed. I relax my body. I let go in my belly and shoulders. Relaxation is the secret simple key to health. (I heard that relaxation quote recently, but don’t remember who said it).
The eastern trinitarian concept highlights construction or creation, sustaining life, and destruction or tearing down. Brahma creates, Vishnu sustains, and Shiva destroys. What does your mind keep tabs on? Is it the constructive or the destructive nature? Are you mentally affixed to the negative side of Shiva’s nature? Life is always falling apart; that’s the Shiva nature, but focusing on that aspect alone will bring despair. Things need to fall apart, but watching the fall may not be the best use of your time.

I have a compost bin in my kitchen. It lives in my pantry. I don’t deny its existence. I use it to dispose of my vegetable and fruit trimmings, but I don’t stand over the compost bin for hours and smell the stench. It really stinks. I know it’s there, covered and tucked inside my pantry, but I don’t let its existence determine my life’s view.

What we keep tabs on colors our world view and either builds or destroys personal realities. What are you keeping tabs on? Tim Bays says it so well in his song, A thousand things went right today and will again tomorrow. The exercises above build the mind and heart and take us from hopelessness and helplessness and deliver us to peace, ease, and happiness. Please join me in creating an easier and safer world. Your world view is up to you, and it’s time to make it easier, freer, and lighter.