A recent series of setbacks has the blog on hiatus while I deepen my practice and look for work. Click to see WORK FOR HIRE
I recently finished reading In Search of the Miraculous- Healing Into Consciousness by Eliza Mada Dalian. It’s a book for spiritual seekers wanting a manual on the path out of fear, pain, and suffering. This is a largely down to earth book that attempts to simplify the mystical and make it accessible to the average reader. It is not St. Theresa of Avila, The Cloud of Unknowing, a Buddhist sutra, or a Sufi text. Dalian grounds her work and for that we can be thankful.
The one section I found to be particularly useful was the part concerning the development of the ego-mind in each of the chakras. Chakras can be thought of as circular energy centers, and for our purposes, we will use the traditional Indian system of seven chakras. Dalian is careful to point out that spiritual development through the chakras is not necessarily a linear one. I take that to mean that life’s trials and tribulations can have us working in any chakra at any time or in several (which seems likely given the complexity of life). Let’s take a look at the spiritual work associated with each chakra and see if you can identify where you are in the process.
1st Chakra (Root): Foundations of Life: (located at the base of the spine)
Although some writings on chakras are different, Dalian identifies this chakra as the center for sexuality. The spiritual work here involves breaking through sexual fears, taboos, and conditioning.
2nd Chakra (Hara): Survival of the Physical Body: (located 2” below navel)
Here the spiritual seeker deals with fears or insecurities over your physical survival. Eventually you develop trust that the universe will take care of you.
3rd Chakra (Solar Plexus): Developing Self Power & Decision Making Ability: (located in solar plexus region)
Spiritual work here involves developing the courage to make decisions, set boundaries for protection, and accept the responsibility for one’s actions. Considerable maturing of the ego-mind happens here.
4th Chakra (Heart): Developing Unconditional Love: (located behind the sternum near the heart)
The heart chakra is the bridge between the lower instinctual chakras and the higher spiritual chakras. Dalian believes that 90 percent of humanity is stuck in the first three chakras and I’d tend to agree. The work of the spirit in the 4th chakra is to transform the body’s need for survival and the instinctual lust of self- gratification into unconditional love.
5th Chakra (Throat): Developing Individuality & Self Expression: (located at the base of the throat near the thyroid) The spiritual challenge here is to develop honesty and integrity that allows an individual to break free of old patterns, beliefs, and social conditioning to bring freedom of expression and individuality into the world. There is a turn inward for truth and compromising the soul is no longer possible. People begin to speak and live their purpose.
6th Chakra (Third Eye): Developing Wisdom & Intelligence: (located in the center of the forehead between the eyebrows)
Spiritual growth in the 6th chakra is associated with the revelation and expansion of psychic knowing. Sometimes called the opening of the third eye, the door to cosmic reality opens. An individual begins to develop extra-sensory abilities, intuition, and begins to glimpse who he/she really is in cosmic terms. Interconnectedness becomes apparent.
7th Chakra (Crown): Dissolving the Ego: (located at the top of the head, acts as the transition point between physical reality and cosmic reality)
This is what Buddhists call Enlightenment. It’s the ultimate goal, the end game. Here, spiritual work involves the death of the ego-mind and ultimate liberation. Through the 7th chakra, the life force moves from time/space reality into timeless reality of ever-evolving consciousness. It’s important to remember that enlightenment (or liberation) is available at every moment of life or at the point of physical death.
If you’d like to learn more about any of the specific challenges associated with the chakras or techniques and meditations that may be useful, grab a copy of the book. There is a whole chapter packed with resources to help. You can also visit the author’s website at www.madadalian.com.
I just want to remind all my tweeps to refrain from photobombing me unless you want my ripped OH to set a micropig lose on you during one of your date nights.
It sounds ridiculous, and it is, but how many of you recognized six new additions to the online Oxford Dictionary? After all, language is an evolving art form and 2013 saw some interesting additions to the grand old tome. Usually by the time slang is incorporated into something as old and wise as the dictionary, many of us are already using the words or have heard them in some context. Old and wise as the dictionary? Dictionaries have been around forever, right? Not so fast.
The Oxford English Dictionary really isn’t as ancient and definitive (yes- a pun!!) as you might think. It wasn’t until 1857 that the Philological Society of London got together and started to think about putting together a dictionary of the English Language. After five years of hard work, the authors had reached the word “ant” and realized the project was going to take much longer than the planned ten years. Published in multiple volumes, The Oxford English Dictionary (affectionately known as the “OED”), was finally completed in 1928. If you want to read more about this Herculean task, Simon Winchester’s book, The Professor and The Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the OED is a great read.
Language is all about communication and for us to understand each other in the ever evolving reality of today’s world, we have to keep up with the ways in which science, technology, entertainment, and social media change things. These are the areas that probably contribute most of the new words. Gone are the days when writers like Shakespeare created his own words and Lewis Carroll coined vorpal, chortle, galumph, and burble. But maybe not. New words are added every year and they have to come from somewhere. Maybe you will come up with the next slick phrase for something. In the meantime, let’s take a look at a few of the new entries for 2013.
OED Online Additions:
tweeps- (n.) your followers on Twitter
photobomb-(v.) to ruin a photograph by suddenly appearing in the camera’s field of view
as the photo is taken, usually as a prank or joke
OH- (n.) a person’s wife, husband, or partner (“Other Half”, I suppose)
Micropig- (n.) a very small pig usually kept as a pet (I’ve written a book about micro-
elephants as pets and, I firmly believe with this OED addition, it’s time for the book to
ripped-(adj) muscular body
date night & group hug- also made it in
Merriam Webster Additions:
flexitarian- (n.) someone whose meatless diet occasionally contains meat/fish
sexting- (v.) the sending of explicit messages or photos by cellphone
Other catchy additions: game changer, brain cramp, f-bomb, bucket list, aha moment, man cave, energy drink, cloud computing, craft beer
I’m off to look up cloud computing!
In the last couple of months, I’ve been happy to welcome many new blog readers and to celebrate I’m inviting everyone to enter to win a free, ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of Into the Land of Snows. All you have to do is leave a comment below to be entered. There are a couple of rules, though. I’m only going to be able to mail to a location in the US. Comments will close midnight (MT) on Wednesday, March 13th (2013). I will conduct a random drawing at that point and notify the winner. Enter only once. Just to have a theme, I’m requesting you comment on something about spring or summer. Here in Colorado, March is usually our snowiest month so spring often feels like it’ll never arrive. To start us off, I’ll post a comment so no one feels awkward to be the first to post.
Mar 14th: Thanks to everyone who entered. The winner is Augusta! Augusta- I’ve posted a notice on your blog but if you happen to see this first, congratulations. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll need your address to ship the book.
I’ve been watching some of the TED talks that have been done over the past few years. There is no doubt that it’s becoming ever more difficult to keep up with the changing world of science and especially anything to do with healthcare. Just a couple of days ago I learned that antioxidants may not be the panacea they have been touted to be. So now I have to rethink my supplement choices and make sure my vitamins are “low dose.”
One of the most important TED talks I’ve seen concerned diagnosing children with developmental disorders and how we’re doing it all wrong. An estimated one in six children suffers from a developmental disorder including:
Learning disorders (Dyslexia, speech & language disorders)
Attention disorders (ADD, ADHD)
Autism spectrum (Autism, Asperger’s)
Genetic disorders (Down & William Syndromes)
Sensory processing disorder
Epilepsy, seizures, sleep disorder
Traditionally, these disorders have been diagnosed in children by observing their behavior.
In 2010, Aditi Shankardass gave a short TED talk about research she and her colleagues were doing at Harvard. Using an EEG, researchers were able to look at a child’s brain activity while awake and map the areas of activity in real time. Use of these tools leads to a precise neurological diagnosis. She goes on to explain that about 50% of those seen in the clinic diagnosed with autism, actually have brain seizures not detectable from observing behavior alone. Once these children receive appropriate anti- seizure meds, their conditions resolve.
Which leads to all kinds of questions. The latest statistic about the prevalence of autism is that it affects 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys: 1 in 252 girls). Does this research mean that half of autism isn’t autism, and in fact, easily treatable? What about the rest of the disorders? How many haven’t been diagnosed because observing behavior doesn’t catch the problem, and just as scary, how many are wrongly diagnosed? How many children and parents are suffering needlessly?
Dr. Shankardass ends her talk with a plea to spread the word about this non-invasive, diagnostic technique.
Read article from MEDICAL NEWS TODAY: June 2012: New EEG Test for Autism
In the last two weeks, my husband and I have welcomed a new dog into the family. Luke is a friendly, almost two year old, Golden Retriever who has had a rough start in life. As we are getting to know each other, I’m drawn back into the routine and wonder of dog ownership. All the while, our elderly cat, George, raises an eyebrow and wonders why he can’t live in a one cat household.
I’ve been re-reading and thoroughly enjoying Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals) by Rupert Sheldrake. Sheldrake is a biologist with a Ph.D. from Cambridge. As a pet owner himself he wondered why the stories of pet owners were so universally ignored by scientists. He felt that confining research to lab animals or wildlife observation misses entirely to capture a unique understanding man has with his companion animals. Sheldrake set out to mine this field for its gold. He interviewed hundreds of people with experience with our closest companion animals. These included dog trainers, vets, zoo keepers, kennel owners, and pet owners. Later, he conducted formal surveys in Britain and the US to quantify the frequency of the most commonly reported behaviors in the area of perceptiveness. He took a special interest in reports of dogs that seemed to know when their owners were coming home. These dogs displayed anticipatory behavior which included alertness and going to a particular spot to await their owner’s return. Using a scientific approach, Sheldrake set out to learn what was at work in this commonly reported behavior.
He examined the common explanations many have given for this behavior. An established routine by the owner, a dog’s superior sense of smell, a dog’s keen hearing ability, human cueing, and the use of a familiar mode of transportation did not seem likely. When these things were eliminated, case histories suggested a human/animal bond along the lines of telepathy.
The best way to understand this is to look at the case of Jaytee and owner Pam Smart. Pam often left Jaytee with her parents when she went out and over time, the parents noticed Jaytee would go to a window and wait for Pam to return. Often the parents had no idea when Pam would return but started to trust Jaytee’s signal because Pam did show up shortly after the dog would go to the window. The Smarts kept logs of the incidents and before long an opportunity arose to film what was really going on. A camera was set up to watch Jaytee and a film crew followed as Pam was sent out. At a randomly selected time Pam was told to return home. On split screen and with the times synchronized, the film shows Pam being told it’s time to return while Jaytee reacts at the same moment with alertness and ears pricked. While Pam walks to a taxi stand, Jaytee goes to a window to wait. Jaytee seems to be responding to Pam’s intention to return suggesting a mind to mind connection. Telepathy! Further research carried out in 1995 and 1996, confirmed that Jaytee anticipated Pam’s arrival at randomly chosen times and in unfamiliar vehicles. Psychic debunker, Dr. Richard Wiseman, conducted his own experiment and found the same result.
Work with filming several other dogs indicated that Jaytee is not alone in her ability. Surveys indicate that the behavior is widespread in all kinds of dogs. About 51% of dogs seem to do this. Males display the behavior slightly more than females. A close bond with a human does seem to be necessary to induce the dog to engage in the behavior. Sheldrake advances the idea of morphic fields to explain the mind to mind connection we have with our pets. This invisible connection is likened to a rubber that can stretch over large distances to facilitate communication.
Sheldrake’s book is a delight. There are many stories of dogs, cats, parrots, horses and other animals engaging in behaviors because they are so connected to us. In later chapters, animal empathy, telepathy, precognition, and sense of direction are covered. I invite you to explore this fascinating book and rediscover your pet through the eyes of science. And don’t forget to share your stories here. I spent a lot of time on dogs, but how many of you have cats who know when there is a vet appointment? Mine does and not because the cat carrier is left out.
Watch the videos:
Unexplained Power of Animals http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLgyFQZxs40
Science Deluded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kO4-9l8IWFQ
Back in 2008, Karen Armstrong, a religion scholar gave a TED talk. In it, she proposed a movement by multi-faith, multi-national groups which would promote compassion worldwide by activating the Golden Rule. Her idea led to the development of the Charter for Compassion. The Council of Conscience, consisting of representatives of many faiths and many national groups, together with input from thousands who responded online resulted in the current Charter for Compassion. The goal of the Charter is to highlight common ground amongst all major religions and all religious traditions. Specifically, they all share compassion and the Golden Rule.
Since that time, tens of thousands have signed the Charter online. Public events, discussions, and readings of the Charter have taken place bringing compassion more and more into public awareness. Now it’s our turn. This is a call to action to connect to the heart and manifest a bigger Truth than any one of us. How Karen’s idea takes form (or fails to take form) depends on our actions. I don’t really know what my part in this will be and I don’t know what your role is either. I’ve read and signed the Charter and brought it into my consciousness. Now it’s your turn. Here’s the Charter.
THE CHARTER FOR COMPASSION
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.
We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
To sign the Charter for Compassion: www.charterforcompassion.org/the-charter
If you do sign it, let me know in the comments below. Please feel free to reblog, FB, or tweet this.