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Archive for the ‘Explanation’ Category

There’s this myth out there that Bernie Sanders hasn’t taken Institutional Racism seriously enough. The attack goes that his fight for Racial Justice is lesser-than and separate from the shared struggle for Economic Justice, ignoring the key lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King’s final fight before his asassination. We need Senator Sanders to dedicate a speech to sharing his powerful story of how Dr. King’s #OneStruggle moves him to continue that fight today.

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I’ve taken an unexpected hiatus due to “two week flu” that went almost three weeks, before turning into bronchitis. Fortunately, the bronchitis seems mild, so I’m hoping I’ll treat it better than the flu and be over it soon.

I’ve been waiting to post until I feel like I can string together coherent thoughts. Even a haiku has been tough to write, of late.

But today I happened to log on, and saw that it’s the 7th Anniversary of this blog.  Seven years, a very lucky number.

So I decided to write a post commenting on how milestones come as they will, regardless of how prepared we feel to celebrate them. I’m choosing to appreciate the seven-year milestone, then log back off to rest.

May you find a milestone or other moment of forward movement this week, and may you enjoy it!

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Over the years I’ve kept this blog, I’ve had a hard time staying consistently present. Unsurprisingly, this is because I feel the pressure to consistently share things that are meaningful. Even if it’s just a short thought or poem, I’ve felt that I need to ensure I’m sharing something of myself to add to another’s day.

Today, I can’t think of a darn thing.

I’m processing the cold germs that have been keeping my son coughing and achey today. The long day of trying to rest together has left me feeling more worn down than recuperated. I want so much for us both to feel completely better tomorrow, so we can enjoy the day. I want to feel PRESENT.

After a pause to sigh, I’m realizing that desire alone is a signal that I’m fighting being sick… again. I think I’ll take my own advice and surrender to the process, so the healing may flow freely without me getting in my own way. Rather than keep trying to hang onto that tiger’s tail, it’s time for me to just let it all go, and rest.

May this serve as Solidarity with you as allow some things to flow more freely for your life, as well.

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Since I’ve been practicing it as promised, I want to explain just a little by what I envision by “Have no more conflicts. Enjoy a positive association with everything.

For me, this phrase is a succinct reminder to maintain some measure of calm acceptance, finding a touchstone of positivity in each moment. Since the everyday frustrations seem to keep evolving over time, it helps for my strategies to evolve, too.

By having no conflicts, I mean, don’t get wound up about a situation being different than I might otherwise hope. Where there’s a disagreement or such with an individual, I’m trying to remember to address the actual issue rather than treating the person involved with it as a problem. Yes, I may perceive them as being the one who “started” the problem, but dwelling on that only interferes with finding a solution. Generally they’re caught up in their own maelstrom of frustrations, and having a little patience with that can help clear some of the storm for both of us.

And that’s where enjoying a positive association comes in. If an otherwise negative situation involves someone I like or love, I remember to focus on that while resolving (or accepting) the situation. If it’s a stranger, I remember to focus on the fact they are a human being, and I happen to like human beings.

If it doesn’t involve another person at all, there’s generally something about my situation or environment that I can focus on with a sense of appreciation, or even just humor. Anything that can help me enjoy that sense of positive resonance that we feel when we’re in the presence of something we welcome into our lives.

I hope that helps explain a little about how I’ve been practicing this, perhaps giving ideas as to how you might enhance your enjoyment of your own life. If so, please give it a shot! Just a little bit of trying out a new habit can make a world of difference in how we experience our world.

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I’ve still got that cough, and it occurs to me that I should probably summarize the cleansing breath that I mentioned in my last post, instead of just linking to a page that may not always be there.

The cleansing breath is a great way to nourish your mind and body with pure oxygen, and help your lungs clear out gunk and toxins. It’s great to do first thing in the morning, last thing at night, right before eating, before and after yoga or exercise, and frankly whenever you feel like it. Oxygen is pure life force, and we deserve to breathe in as much as we can remember to.

It’s good to do the cleansing breath standing up, but any generally relaxed position will do. First, exhale as much as you can, compressing your lungs to clear out the old air. Then, breathe in not-too-quickly, filling your lungs right up with air. Hold it for just a little while.

If your lungs are gunky or “stale”, you might cough a bit while you’re holding your breath up to the top of your lungs. That’s fine, clear it out, then try again. After holding the air just a bit, start to force the air out through pursed lips, keeping your cheeks pulled in (as opposed to puffed out, that is). Force the air out in short bursts, pulsing your diaphragm so that it compresses your lungs progressively from the bottom to the top.

If you’re like me, as the “short bursts” start to compress the air out from near the top of your lungs, that’s when you’re really likely to cough if you have anything to clear out. Light, shallow coughs can help the process of using the air to clean out your lungs. Just pay attention to your body and follow its cues. Don’t force anything unnatural, but don’t resist anything natural, either.

Hopefully this helps convey my understanding of the cleansing breath. May it serve you well!

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I just wanted to write down a few words about what I mean when I say “Love Heals”. We don’t have a shared language about what Love means. Everybody has experienced this word differently, and therefore it represents different thoughts, different feelings, different expectations. So I want to share how I’ve come to experience Love.

Love is a Shared Resonance. We may not always vibrate on the same level, and our wavelengths may not be fully entrained to one another. Still, when we hold that person, thing or idea in our heart, we feel our heart opening a space of connection. There is a portion within us that shares their happiness and pangs — not at cost to our own, but in harmony with our experiences.

Of course, this means that in order to fully experience this resonance, we have to have that connection within our hearts to ourselves. I mean, we can hardly enjoy a balanced resonance with someone if we won’t resonate balance within ourselves. We need to be able to treasure our strengths and forgive our perceived weaknesses, embracing our full resonance as human beings.

Only by becoming equal partners with our full self can we prepare to be equal partners with anybody or anything through Love. That’s tougher to do if we identify ourselves as “wounded souls”. Wounds stay within us when we haven’t made peace with them, and allowed ourselves the space to work through what significance they hold in our lives. As we treasure our whole selves in love, we prepare ourselves to really look and see what place these wounds hold within us. By making peace with the ways they have impacted or even served us in the past, we can hold acceptance in the present and open up to replacing those wounds with better ways to fill those spaces in the future. We can stop keeping dead experiences alive inside us, feeding them with our pain. We can put them to rest, replacing them with better ways to experience life.

We don’t have to like what we see inside ourselves, but we do have to love ourselves through the process. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or experienced, not in terms of Who We Are. What matters is the strength we are building to own Who We Are, and love that essential nature we are striving to embody. It’s this patient, patient practice of learning to see and love our whole selves that helps us heal our wounds.

Our love and patience can help others heal their wounds as well, but they really have to be the ones to do it. We can help offer our resonance to support them in their journey, even if just by holding love for them within our hearts when nothing else is appropriate. We can’t do it for them though, just like nobody else can live our lives for us. That’s both the challenge and the power of being human.

I hope that helps show a little more of what I mean when I say all we truly need is Love. It’s a shorthand for, “All challenges we face can be surmounted only if we rally our Love, and courageously wield it as the active force of change in our world.” Sometimes, just practicing a patient, loving acceptance of What Is can be all that’s needed to kickstart changes toward Better Ways to Be.

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Happy Zen Year!

So, 2013. What a year, huh? It was so full of hidden gems and other rocks & hard places, it was tough to stay present in our own skin. There was too much popping up all at once, and too much falling away. How could we keep up?

I heard once that odd numbers hold more chaos and even numbers more constancy, so that made me think that perhaps I could apply that concept to years. If 2013 was chaos that kept the world off its center, perhaps 2014 may be a year of regrouping within that center.

So I’m committing to focus at least one moment each day in a way that brings my full attention to that present moment. I’m shooting for actually posting about that moment or other thoughts each day, to stay present here, as well. Part of my joy is to share what I receive with others. This 2014 is a year to dedicate to joy, being present with it and sharing that presence with others.

You who read this, regardless of when you read it, please consider making a similar commitment to dedicating a tiny slice of each day to connect to the world through your own center. No matter how you feel about yourself, you’re a part of this crazy planet, and we need you to honor that. You don’t have to do anything “special”, just pause with a breath and thank any random moment for allowing you to experience it. That alone will bring you into that precious moment, and experience the simplicity of pure presence that is zen.

It’s time to start showing up. I and the rest of the world dearly look forward to sharing it with you.

Here’s to a Happy Zen Year!

Note: This was actually posted on the 2nd, when the thoughts finished forming into words I could type. Clearly, I’m pretty fluid on the implementation of this goal. Just be who you are and let life flow through you!

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Take a look at my archive.  Not very impressive, is it?  Oh, I’ll get to some points where I get really dedicated to keep coming back here and updating.  I’ll be super engaged for a while… and then disappear again.  I’ll swing back now and again for a little note, but the tide has gone out.

I’m a little oceanic like that, I guess.  A lot, actually.  I’m sure you have ways you can relate.

So, the first step is admitting it.  I’ll see about some further steps over the next week.

Thanks for listening.

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As I’ve mentioned, I don’t tend to like talking religious specifics, but that’s only because I tend to view them as rather personal.  It’s absolutely not a matter of not being familiar with them.  Though I will admit I tended to see the specifics differently from how many would say I was supposed to view them.

I was raised in the Mormon tradition by a very traditional Mormon family, and studied some of the religion at the very traditional Brigham Young University.  I grew up reading the Book of Mormon and other Mormon scripture as well as the Bible, every single day.  Read all of them cover-to-cover a few times, and came away with a very loving, giving and forgiving message.

To me, the Word of God was all about treating one another with unconditional love and compassion, answering every need with charity and every hurt with tenderness.  It was not our place to judge what others would choose, merely to offer what we felt was a wise example through our kindness and support of their troubles in life.  We were expected to keep only what we needed for ourselves, sharing the rest so that all may be cared for, in body as well as in spirit.  All were our brothers and sisters, to be sustained through the bonds of community without judgment of who (or what) others would call them.

Yeah, like I said, some would say I wasn’t getting the message.  However, I came across an article the other day that reflected my own thoughts back to me:

Ironically, while Romney would prefer to discuss wealth inequality in “quiet rooms,” the topic consumed both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s sermons and writings. For a short time in the Book of Mormon, the Nephites abandoned their love of riches and established “Zion” — a classless utopia that “had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, but they were all made free.”

The Nephite story provided the template for Smith and Young’s social experiments with communalism. They would both try repeatedly to replicate the mythic Zion. Smith repeatedly told his followers, “if you are not equal in earthly things you cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things.” Young also championed wealth redistribution, “We have plenty here. No person is going to starve, or suffer, if there is an equal distribution of the necessaries of life.”

When Mormons Were Socialists: Why the Mormon Church’s Founders Would be Very Disappointed in Mitt Romney by Troy Williams

I remembered seeing a church musical all about a young pioneer woman who resented the communal economy of the early city of Zion, only to become disillusioned with the soulless materialism of the world outside.  She returned to find them throwing out their communal values to chase the American Dream, and imploringly sang to them the same chorus they had sung to her about the shininess of materialistic wants: “It doesn’t matter!  It doesn’t matter!”

I found it pretty goofy and overblown for what I figured was an old message that went without saying.  I was pretty disappointed when I realized that it still needed to be said, and to people who continue to profess more public Mormon piety than I ever felt I should.

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You know how when you’ve got something new in your life, it’s like suddenly reminders of it are showing up all around you?  Somehow you know that they always had to be there, it’s just that now you’re noticing them.  At the same time though, it absolutely feels like they’re there simply because you’re looking for them.

That’s how I felt once I started really getting into the theology and politics of When Atlas Shirked.  When I started writing about…

  • The difficulties faced by pregnant women and especially teens, news started really hitting me about so-called Personhood Initiatives were leading to the criminalization of and punishment for difficulties with pregnancy, or even accidents.
  • Toxic economic and ecological conditions in factory towns, Revered David Bouie invited the Koch brothers to visit his home in the cancer-plagued neighborhood of a town I visited family in just over a decade ago.
  • Efforts to prevent “those people” from voting, Voter ID and other disenfranchisement efforts were hitting the news full-swing.
  • A sinister national firewall used to silence criticism and dissent, then the next say SOPA comes out so much worse that I actually have to rewrite that section
  • Puppeteering of public opinion through manipulating peoples’ emotions of fear and disgust, science starts reporting again on the primal nature of disgust and how disgust shapes politics
  • Sexual abuse and assault in the workplace and the military, a wave of articles reference statistics on incidents and reporting, particularly in the military.
  • Religious freedom in the military, and I start finding the infiltration of the American military by extremist sectarians that are so relentlessly aggressive in turning the armed forces into their taxpayer-funded missionary force, a group of soldiers have to struggle to fight for their right to serve under the American Constitution, not these sectarians.  (And 96% of those soldiers are Christian, just not the same kind as the extremist sectarians.)
  • The labyrinthine mishmash of the industrial food business and start seeing folks talk about the effects of GMO on public health (despite some GMOs starting to fail), and states tried to pass laws that would make it illegal to document abuses by the agricultural industry
  • The importance of sharing a non-reactionary, Christlike perspective on Christianity, and the news out there seems to push more and more the idea that Christianity = Extremist Judgmentalism, making it harder for people of faith to connect those around them with their story.
  • Oh right, and the day after I started writing, a group of folks had a little get-together in Zuccotti Park.

Anyway, I know none of these are new issues.  But in a crash-course of just a few months, they all started hitting me over the head in wave after wave of new perspectives.  Things that I thought I understood, I found myself questioning and re-evaluating, growing alongside Liz as I explored through my own experiences what she might be trying to say about her own, alternate world.

I do realize that most of what I linked up there is pretty depressing.  It’s a bunch of mega-downers, a cavalcade of all that’s going wrong in our world.  But note that most of the links are from groups that are working on solutions to these issues.  I didn’t feel surrounded by gloomy problems, but by courageous people staring straight into the void, and rather than blinking, start lighting up their candles to fight the darkness.   I haven’t even touched all the beautifully wonderful examples of positive change from Yes Magazine alone!

And that’s what continued to drive me to write.  It’s what helped me feel so electrically engaged, despite all the heartaches of peoples’ tragedies, despite the downward trajectory of national trends, and despite being sick with a sequence of colds and flus from the last two weeks of December through much of February.

I felt the passionate optimism of all those out there, working hard in their own ways to help our world overcome our crises, calling to their communities to join them in building a better future.  This inspiration carried through into Liz Franklin’s ceaseless faith in the power of Love in her own world, giving me greater hope for how it can transform ours.

That’s why I kept my eyes and ears open to the cavalcade of coincidental news, working almost obsessively to help it shape what I was trying to share.  That’s why I let myself feel driven to push this out so hard, so fast, getting Liz Franklin’s story into written form.

Of course, now that means I need to find a way to take this message of hers, and get it to folks in a way that someone else out there can actually read it, maybe even benefit.  Funny how that works, huh?

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