Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Usefulness Vs. Uselessness

(This article originally appeared Monday, February 13, 2006 in the WLLC blog.)

I am not entirely sure where I am going with this thought, but it occurred to me while I was in a vulnerable space and it just hung onto my brain cells. The way it hit me was that many folks at times feel themselves to be “useless.” They may feel that way because they feel unappreciated, underutilized or simply out of step with whatever is going on in their lives at the time. It is a decidedly different feeling than one of usefulness, where you do feel appreciated and participatory in what is going on.

What I have come to realize is that both feelings are self-generated. They are not externally imposed upon us, even if we are awakened to those feelings by something someone has said or done “to” us. Each of us has a choice in the way we respond to situations and conditions in our lives. Too often, however, we feel put upon. We simply will not rise above feelings of uselessness or unworthiness as long as we place the control over those emotions in the hands of someone else.

It is difficult to face ourselves realistically at times. We may fear that to admit to a lack of understanding about an issue, or a difference of opinion will somehow make us a lesser person in the eyes of someone whose opinion we value. So, we begin to think that maybe, just maybe, we aren’t as up to snuff as we thought we were. This pattern of thought, if maintained, inevitably leads us to despair and self-deprecation—uselessness.

The truth is we are not useless. We are spiritual beings. We do have a purpose and we can discover that purpose and bring it into fruition. Take back the reigns that control the direction of your life. Recognize your positive traits and skills. Recognize your vision, your faith. When you begin this positive journey, you will feel support from all directions. Believe in yourself and others will believe in you as well.

Follow up: September 19, 2007

When I reviewed some of my past writings and came to the one above, I realized how appropriate it is to my current situation. The first thing I realized was that it shows that once we overcome some issue in our lives, or come to understand it better, we are not necessarily finished with it. Sometimes the same or very similar issues arise that remind us we still have work to do.

Such was the case for me when I recently met with my counselor. I was confronted with the realization that I had allowed myself to express a preemptive “dig” at someone in order to put up a “protective” shield against being hurt again by the person with whom I had been experiencing frustration and helplessness (a type of uselessness!).

This is an example of how we can let our fears lead us into actions that only exacerbate the original problem. Such fears seem so real to us that we actually believe we are unloved and undeserving of being valued as a person. When we feel that way, we try to “protect” ourselves from hurt through any means available. This is how we self-generate the feelings of uselessness.

No matter how much we think another person may feel we are undeserving, we must regain the true image of ourselves. Sometimes it may take the support of a friend or family member, or a counselor for us to remember we are spiritual beings. Our purpose is to express the highest and best that is within us; the love, understanding and forgiveness—of self and others—of which we are capable. The power of our spiritual self never leaves us, though we may, for a time, neglect it and fail to acknowledge it. It is like a darkened room suddenly exposed by the turning on of the light switch. Now everything that was already there is revealed. Our willingness to believe in ourselves is the switch that illumines our soul revealing our spiritual power and strength. I am reaching for that switch right now!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Between Darkness And Light

The magnificent hand of the Master now gently withdraws, and before your very eyes you are watching the disappearance of night and the silent transformation of the awakening day. A sparkling layer of morning dew now gently blankets the grass, the flower petals and leaves and glistens silently on the cars and the car windows.
These glistening droplets are displaying the magnificent sunlight playing upon the infinite amount of tiny iridescent crystal balls. Slowly, you walk through the dew-covered grass, feeling that rarefied gift of the night air that will soon evaporate in the full light of the sun. Inhaling slowly and consciously it is almost as if you are drinking in the magical elixir formed in the boundary between darkness and light.
Did you know that it is said that the morning dew is believed to be tears from heaven, and yet in another story we are told that the droplets are poured from the vessel of the goddess of dawn. When you see the earth draped with these shimmering drops, it is easy to imagine the tiny fairies bathing in the water, or a sky god weeping from a longing to be closer to his beloved earth goddess. Seeing the sparkling beauty of the earth emerging from the quiet darkness, you may better understand this longing in terms of your own gratitude; how blessed you are to be alive.
Perhaps heaven really does long to be recognized here on earth, and perhaps that is why you are here right now. . Be the conduit between the divine and the earthbound. Drink in the sweet morning dew with your eyes, your skin, your breath and imagine that it is really a magical potion, a gift from heaven, a reminder of your true purpose, and your daily opportunity to be transformed.
Filling all of the tiny crystal balls with love, watch as they now drift off into the unknown, filled with your love to reach out and bless the world all around you. You and God and the early morning dew have now kissed your entire planet, sharing your love, sharing your longing to feel the presence of oneness, of peace and serenity.
There is now no longer a space between the darkness and light, no duality, no separation. Breathing in gently this feeling be here now and accept this blessed gift of your true oneness with all creation. You never were and you never are separate. You are never alone. Your magnificence sparkles brighter than the glistening crystal balls that have filled your vision, freshened your skin with the kiss of the sweet dew drops and are now the twinkle alive in your eyes. You are now, as you always were created to be, perfect, whole and free . . .and so it is.

This article by Nomi Sweetfire is based on an idea first presented in “Daily Om,” a daily meditation web site. We have referenced the site under our “Links” in the left column.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Feeling The Funk

This article was originally posted on the Whole Life Learning Center Blog on Thursday, April 20, 2006

This is going to be one of those rambling moments. You know about them, don’t you? It is a time when you feel something stirring within you but it has not yet taken a form recognizable by distinct feelings or specific words of description. I know something is evolving within me, around me. I feel certain that it is positive. I feel, too, that there may be pain involved. I understand that in some ways growth is a painful prospect. Our muscles experience some pain as we stretch them and exercise them until they gain the next level of development. Then the path is smooth until the next surge of growth comes about. Growth in understanding seems to come that way as well. We may flounder around in our effort to understand what is going on in our lives. We experience the pain of frustration, rebuke, maybe even failure. Then as the “muscles” of our mind begin to get used to stretching to new considerations there is a kind of “Ah Ha!” that hits us. We now are in a better position to understand why we are where we are. We have a glimpse into our new realization of power over our lives at that moment. Things begin to feel better. It is easier to love and be loved. It is more comfortable to enter new social experiences. We may find a new thrust of enthusiasm about our work, whether it is a job we go to each day, or work in our garden designing a new flowerbed. I guess my point is that when we feel we are in a funk, that things are fuzzy and our path is unclear, we must find the will to press on. Flex the muscles of your mind and heart with faith and confidence that you are moving forward to new plateaus of satisfaction, understanding and success. Each effort will be easier than the prior one. The result inevitably is strength and accomplishment. So, press on I will. I hope you will as well.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Emotional History and God’s Timing

I came across two short, but meaningful, writings a while ago when I first began seeking to find a way to deal with emotional loss in a relationship. I hope you will find the ideas as helpful as I did in my effort to reframe the references of my mind and heart. I apologize for not having the author information of "God's Timing." If any of you recognize it and can provide the information, I will add it. Thanks!

Now You See It, Now You Don’t

God leads me to still waters
That restore my spirit – Psalm 23

It doesn’t take very long for each of us to accumulate an emotional history. A child burns her hand on a stove and a fear of fire begins; in a tender moment, a hand is slapped and a fear of love begins. Our emotional associations and reflexes run deep. Often, the heart breathes beneath all our associations like a soft, sandy bottom waiting underwater.

Thus, to see ourselves clearly, we must try to still our associations till we are as transparent as a calm lake. When still enough and clear enough, others can also see through to our bottom. It makes love possible again. But paradoxically, when someone is moved to reach for us, their fingers stir things up, sending ripples everywhere, and we and they can often lose sight of what matters.

All this affirms the need to stay with our feelings long enough for the emotional associations—the ripples—to settle. No one can escape this. No matter how young or old you may be, no matter how innocent or experienced you are, if you’ve been awake and alive and in any kind of relationship that has in any way been real, your waters will stir, your emotions will ripple. It seems the only way we can truly know our own depth is to wait for our associations and reflexes to subside, till we are clear as a lake again. Only when what gets stirred up settles can we see ourselves and each other clearly.

Breathe slowly, and allow your agitations of heart to come and go with each breath.
Breathe steadily, and try to outwait your reflexes to be angry or anxious or envious or resentful.
Breathe evenly, and with each exhalation try to feel the depth of heart that waits below.

-- From “Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo

God’s Timing

When the lip is cut, no matter how, the need to heal makes us chew slower, and drink to one side. It makes us speak only when we have something to say. These are not bad things.

When the mind is cut, by a truth too sharp to hold, it makes us bleed the things we cling to. If lucky, we bleed the things that no longer work.

When the self others have sealed us in is cut, it lets us escape with only what we were given at birth.

While there are terrible ways to be opened, there is no such thing as a bad opening. It’s all about God’s timing. Not open enough and we fester. Open too long and we become a wound.

If you speed up how a flower blooms, it appears to be escaping. If you slow down the way a crisis explodes what we know, it appears we are transforming.

Hard as it is to embrace, crises are flowers opening what we refuse to open by ourselves.
- - 0 - -

Many thanks to a long-time friend who shared these insightful writings with me. How fortunate we are to have such friends. They walk with us free of judgment, filled with understanding, and supportive of the best within us that we may lose sight of in the rippled waters of our life.
-- Dan Perin