The Tree

Yesterday I was running in a park near me. The park is alongside the Missouri River and is an idyllic place. I’m sure that the park has been there for more than a century. I myself have been running there for over 35 years. Some years it floods, but it always returns.

Yesterday, I was noticing how some of the trees grew at an angle in order to get more light and get away from their neighbor. Makes sense. Then I noticed a particular tree that had grown radically sideways and then up. At the base of the tree, there were three trunks, from one tree. Two of the trunks had grown basically up. The third one, went up a few feet, then went sideways for several feet, then the leafy branches were spread out in an open area.

The tree seemed like an analogy of my emotional growth. As a young person, I grew away from my dysfunctional and painful upbringing. I now live in the sunlight, but I still own the sideways part of my being. My roots and the first part of my trunk seem like the noble spirit that I was born as. The sideways part is the twisted emotions. The sideways part is not a problem. I can receive nourishment from my noble spirit, my original being, through the twisted part. And so, I live in the sunlight, receiving spiritual support even though there is a history of emotional problems. I am healthy and soaking up the sunlight directly.

That’s amazing.

You know, psychologists go on and on about how humans are social creatures. but in reality, we each need to grow apart in order to find our own sunlight.

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Immediate Help

Last evening,I fell into an emotional hole. I knew that if I continued to think the thoughts I was thinking, I end up going down a certain path which I didn\’t think I wanted to go down. I knew I needed help from my Inner Being. I hadn\’t truly been conscious of the fact that I had fallen into an emotional hole or why. I felt down on myself and despairing of ever been good enough for my work situation. Clarity was achieved this morning. I slept good and long and I have a day off to reflect.

Be that as it may, last night, I asked for help from my Inner Being, and help was immediately sent. I noticed it. First, as I was driving to a fellowship meeting, I felt gratitude for the work situation which seemed to be troubling me. That is, I remembered the positive aspects. Second, at the fellowship, I sat next to a man who has known me for more than 30 years, and who also is a wise man older than me. Out of the blue, he said, \”You seem completely different since you came back. Completely relaxed.\” Well, this was someone else seeing in me what I could not see in myself, at least not in a moment of emotional turmoil. A gift from the Higher Power since I immediately felt the truth of it. This man has been associating with me for the past year, so however I felt in the moment, my overall vibration is relaxed. Third, the fellowship discussion was on \”Go With the Flow.\” Wait another synchronous event, message from non-physical, reply of the Higher Power. And several people shared how they do prayer and meditation. These three things helped me relax and realize that I need do nothing about my situation.

This morning, after that long sleep, I realize that working 6 days in a row may have exhausted me, and when I am exhausted, I am very emotionally sensitive. And my perception of events at work yesterday left my inner child in emotional turmoil. It seems reasonable now, but last night I was spiraling into an emotional hole.

This morning, having a day off,  I pulled out my writing work and continued my editing. This is the first thing I read:

Have mercy on yourself. Stop and be calm a moment. Look inside. We all need to get beyond the raging thoughts in our heads, and get to know our truth. 
“As soon as we settle down in hope and confidence to discover the deeper forces within ourselves, they begin to become active.” (Brunton, The Quest for the Over Self, pg 206)
Meditate/ contemplate on your own depths and inner strengths. These are your silent deeper forces. They wait for your attention. Merely shift focus from your obsession to the depths of your being. Get beyond the raging obsessive thoughts and pay attention to the deeper forces.
Listen and new thoughts will come into your mind.

Shoot. My own writing really helped me: Have mercy on yourself.

Also this morning, I got an e-mail from someone who appreciated me. That was super great timing. All the above is to say: I get it. The Universe helps me along. My Inner Being gives me the information I need. Without the synchronicity, or the ability to notice it, I could have headed down a path to changing my life in unnecessary ways. When really, my life is arranged at the moment in a way which facilitates carrying out my dream. I need patience and perseverance because carrying out the dream takes time. Also, related to my emotional turmoil and carrying out my dream, I watched a video yesterday about a woman who saved a kitten. She said she accomplished saving the kitten through \”pure stubborn-ness.\” And for me to accomplish my dream, I need stubborn-ness.

I need do nothing. For the next several weeks, my work schedule returns to a normal pattern of only working 2 or 3 days in a row, not six. I can return to my writing project.

I\’m going in a race this weekend. The weather looks perfect. Yee Ha!

A Moment in Between

Yesterday I spent my time with movers, packing up my house in Texas. Then I drove to Oklahoma and spent the night. Today, I will continue driving to my new home in Missouri.

Some of my thoughts yesterday reflected around how momentous this thing I am doing is. Sure, everybody retires some time. I took my time earlier than most based on a desire to grow. Seriously, I had to move on. Where I worked was \”not that bad,\” in fact pretty good. The condition of the work place alone does not justify quitting.

Finances provided an escape route, something like a catalyst.

But the real crux of the matter is the interior of my heart and soul. There were positive desperate needs and negative desperate needs. Ultimately it came down to a dream, a plan, an idea.

I just started reading a book written by a doctor about addiction, its neuro-science and its childhood development. I have to admit that a few screws were maladjusted in my childhood. This makes for a life outside the norm. And now I can see that I am embracing my truth.

By \”outside the norm,\” I don\’t mean badly weird. I mean that suburban life, going along, just earning money in a good corporate job and carrying out that life to the end, was not enough. Look, I have moved around alot in my life from job to job. Look, I ran off to a monastery in mid-life because I was interested in contemplative prayer. Look, getting married and having kids could never have been for me.

Without the surroundings of a corporate culture, I don\’t have to pretend to be like \”them\” anymore. Like, you work with people daily for years, never talking about sobriety; because they wouldn\’t understand and might hold it against you. The spirituality of a 12 step program, or ultra-marathoning, is impossible to express to the un-initiated. I even had trouble admitting that I got up at 3:30 am every day in order to have time for both spiritual study and running.

I don\’t know how my creative ideas will turn out. But I can clearly see the next 2 or 3 trail markings.

I am a bit apprehensive for arrival at my new digs. How will I feel once I finally get there? The whole decision to buy this place and get out of Texas is an emotional affair. Yes, I can scream about logic, but the emotion is really what life is.

So, enjoy the ride. I am where I am. My life is now totally about the \”receiving mode.\” The Receiving Mode is something I heard about from Abraham Hicks. I have to strengthen my spiritual practice above all else.

Wow! Now that I am free, I can allow my mind to just go crazy with ideas and creativity; and I have the means to capitalize.

Resignation Stories

I am planning on resigning my job in September and moving on to phase 3 of my life. But quitting a good corporate job, even if you have the money, is a surprising challenge. That is giving up a secure salary in favor of spending your savings and doing something different defies belief systems and causes angst.

This angst has to be worked through in order to be happy. So my resignation is an emotional process. I have to face all my conditioning and resentments in order to obtain a free and happy soul.

So, 3 stories have become important ways of framing what I am going through.

First was Plato\’s Cave. It is a story about people sitting in chairs in a cave. They are facing the rock wall and watching shadows on the wall. Watching these shadows is their reality. Then one day, one of them stands ups and look around and sees the sun shining through the mouth of the cave. There are other people walking past the cave and these other form the shadows on the wall of the cave which are watched by the people in the chairs. My take on this: I have stood up and seen the sun, but still too afraid to walk out of the cave. The cave is the only reality I have known. Can I make it if I leave the cave?

Second is about training flies. If you put some flies in a jar  with a top, and then some time later remove the top, the flies will not leave the jar. They just won\’t. My take on this: As a corporate employee, I have a hard time leaving my corporate jar. The way to freedom is there for me, but I still just look at it.

Third is about catching monkeys. It is said that the way to catch a monkey is to get a large jar with a mouth just large enough for the monkey\’s hand. Put rocks in the jar to make it heavy. Scatter treats around and in the jar. The monkey will come for the treats and eventually reach into the jar to get those treats. But the monkey can\’t get its hand out of the jar with the treats balled up in it. So you have caught the monkey. My take on this: The treats are the corporate safety and salary. My hand has long been in the jar. To get out of the jar, I have to open my hand, let go of the corporate salary. There are other sources of treats but first, I have to let go.

So these stories illustrate and help me understand the angst I experience in my transition from corporate slave to free creative entrepreneur. I don\’t even need to make money as entrepreneur, just go be one, leaving aside the corporation. The white middle class cultural template of \”go to college and get a good corporate job and eventually retire\” is the conditioning I have been living. But now, I want to be free. I think I can be \”more\” by being free.

Understand this is an emotional journey not a logical one. Logically, I am fine. Emotionally, I am breaking my conditioning and parts of my brain don\’t agree. The tension is the emotion. Most of us don\’t like being emotional. But what is human life without emotion? Beliefs about emotion itself are a form of conditioning.

The emotional journey will continue.

The Limits of My Emotions

Yesterday, I realized that I reached a hard edge to what I am able to handle. It is the first time I\’ve ever reached this consciously. It has happened unconsciously before. That is, I didn\’t realize what was happening; I just reacted.

So when I consciously made the connection, I thought, \”my emotional make up simply cannot tolerate THIS.\” So, I can decide to stop, realize I have a character shortcoming and leave it alone. I am like a person without a leg, only it is a mental flaw. Will power won\’t stop my emotions from controlling me.

The only way to change is to offer it up to my soul for healing. Again, this must be done consciously and specifically.

This character flow is related to trust in certain situations. The facts of the matter have little bearing on my emotional reaction or the barrage of thoughts which spring up to stress me out. I can see the fear; but there is nothing I can do about it. I also can\’t deny it. Fear controls me.

In fact, this situation has been eye opening. Like, wow, I really am controlled by fear and my life has been shaped to avoid certain things because they are just too overwhelming emotionally.

How humbling it is to admit this about myself honestly.

Solitude Explained

I am a solitary because I want time. I want time for spirituality and running. I say “solitary” because I have disengaged from society and individual relationships. As a result of sitting in long periods of silence and inactivity, facing my ego’s negativity, and exposing myself directly to spiritual intervention, my attitudes, ideas and opinions are differentiated from society; and becoming integrated with “something else” I call the COMPANION.

I want to live in deep embrace and partnership, one consciousness with the COMPANION. I have wanted this since I was 22. Seeking the oneness is why I’ve done everything else: daily spiritual study (for all those years), learned silent sitting, integrated running into the meditation, used wholistic food and fasting to attune my body to the COMPANION’s vibration pattern, disengaged from society (TV, entertainment, holidays, religion, politics, 12 Step groups, etc.), daily reflection and discussion with the COMPANION.

Ten years ago, I was removed from society totally by going to live in a monastic cloister, for almost 4 years. A Benedictine contemplative community is a group exercise, not solitude; but it does disconnect one from ordinary life.

Five years ago, I became a solitary by default as I lived and worked in the country. I was intentional about solitude and contemplation by this time. Alone for long periods of time, I had to consciously process guilt, hate, anger, shame and fear; or go back to society and avoid these emotions by being busy. Everybody has these but they are usually covered with busyness. We don\’t recognize that the routine frustrations are evidence of a mountain of hate lying just below the surface of consciousness. Solitude gives you knowledge of that mountain of negative ego emotion.

When you have stayed in solitude and processed the ego emotions for long enough, you become mentally different than the people who never did it; inhabiting a different world as it were. After some time of processing, it becomes impossible to go back. My worst problem with solitude is realizing that I am unable to rejoin society and no one wants for follow me into true embrace with the COMPANION. I’ve had people question why anyone would want to give up their life like this.

So, given the situation, I must find the COMPANION and fully enter His consciousness. To fully embrace and engage a spiritual life and spiritual world, I must fully let go of the ego world and ego emotions and any hope of finding satisfaction in anything other than the COMPANION. The COMPANION is with me always, but I must turn to Him and listen to His Voice; instead of looking back at society and listening to ego.

The COMPANION heals my guilt, hate, anger, shame and fear; if I give it to Him. I begin to live in a world of peace, joy and love, God’s reality. This new world is freedom from ego and reception of God’s gifts. My function becomes a) being an icon of God’s reality, b) projecting God’s reality and c) mirroring God’s reality.

The COMPANION has more to teach me. I am now an urban solitary, beginning a life of acceptance and faith in the COMPANION alone. My journey is still one of emptiness, inactivity and letting go of ego emotions.

Everyone has a path to oneness with the COMPANION. The COMPANION does not belong to me. Everyone walks their path and does their own work, whether they know it or not. The way out of the ego world is much quicker for those who intentionally engage in their process.

This morning, I got up at 6, did spiritual study for an hour (including writing this), cleaned the house, and sat down to type what I wrote. Now, I think it is almost time for running.

Taper Madness

Today is day three of complete inactivity as far as exercise goes. I\’m going in a marathon on Monday. Since I beat up my legs pretty good over the summer (when I wasn\’t working and running 10 or 20 miles a day); I decided that I needed 5 days of complete rest before attempting a marathon. My weight is down to 130.8 this morning (good job with dieting).

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Heart of America marathon. Twice as many people as usual signed up. Hal Higdon is coming to sign his book \”Marathon,\” which I don\’t have. They are even having porta-potties! (Usually, you are on your own out there, plenty of bushes though). On a sad note, they are having an awards \”ceremony.\” Which means I\’ll miss picking up my age group plaque because I\’ll not be able to wait around 3 hours after finishing for the \”ceremony\” to start.

This morning, I was up early, as usual, but no running. I sat in the quiet of my apartment. I pondered the reality of tapering. Tapering is a time of waiting and emptiness. It is a time of anticipation as something-not-yet makes its way into the present. As a spiritual practitioner, it is a time to find holiness and peace in the waiting.

For many, it is a time of madness. The madness is a function of the ego; and without a conscious practice, most people experience emotional stress during empty periods in their lives. Without a consistent spiritual practice which has already learned to \”be still and wait,\” people go crazy during inactivity. The ego jumps into action: shreiking out fears, angers, shame, failure, worry, vengefulness, etc. People can\’t stand the ego\’s terror, frustration and wild clanging. Instead, they go shopping or they eat.

In general, the ego is agitated during all periods of space and waiting. The reason is because God can be found in the quiet. The ego does not want the human to experience God; because experiencing God, the human will abandon the ego. The beginning spiritual practitioner experiences the same ego agitation as everyone else when the spiritual practice of silence is undertaken. The practioner determined to meet God will not quit as the ego agitation mounts. The ego agitation can be passed through. The ego does not have to win. People who quit the practice have allowed the ego to win. The determined spiritual practitioner who wants God above all else and persistently and consistently makes the effort to find inner peace; will eventually get through the ego\’s shrieks and find that peace. This effort is supported with help from a Higher Power. God wants first of all to enjoy the consciousnesses He made as His children.

This evening I will begin my sacred pre-marathon rituals. I will shave my legs. I will drink the Senna tea.

The Gold Found in the Depths

This afternoon started out similar to many afternoons. I was mulling over my feelings. I was able (for once) to focus very clearly and precisely on the two mental/emotional patterns that cause me the greatest grief, and that cost me defeat over and over. Then I admitted to myself: these are not going away. I\’ve tried countless spiritual, psychological and physical remedies and they haven\’t budged. I said to myself, \”I am done trying to fix. I accept that I am handicapped.\”

I should make a disclaimer: my character defeats are so common that I\’d say everyone has them; but hardly anyone is willing to dig them out and realize them fully.

Then, an unusual thing happened after I accepted my TWO unhealable defeats; which have led to countless experiences of self loathing. I said to myself, \”What is the gold I\’ve found in all this muck. What gifts do I have because of the defeats.\”

Voila: SEVENTEEN gold nuggets, character strengths, mental and emotional resources.

Surprising to me, God was in the defeat column. My human characteristics are in the gold column.

Here is my gold:

  • Survival, I adapt as I need to.
  • Persistence.
  • Introspection.
  • Defiance.
  • Not-going-along.
  • Questioning.
  • Admitting fear.
  • Feeling pain.
  • Seeking help.
  • Creativity.
  • Resourcefulness.
  • Thinking.
  • Taking responsibility.
  • Honesty.
  • Doing the next chore, taking care of business.
  • Integrity.
  • Leadership, willing to go first.

What astounds me is that some of my qualities which I think are my gold, are what other people think I should quit doing. The extreme importance to me of what others think of me is a by-product of one of the two defeats. So, no wonder I have psychological pain. But now, I have identified my gold and know that I want my gold. Maybe I won\’t need to feel ashamed of my gold. Further, now that I\’ve admitted that my two defeats are not going away, I can quit trying to fix them and put my energy into mining gold.

This doesn\’t mean I won\’t ever be a depressed basket case again. It just means I\’ll have to keep mining gold from certain future defeat experiences. I don\’t have to be stuck in self loathing.

This is a different perspective. It should help me to quit following other people\’s rules in more and more areas of my life; while being more and more sensitive to others as my defenses will relax. I have gold. I know what it is. I know that half my gold is disapproved of. I know that disapproval triggers one of my defeats. OK…so get over it or through it. Wash the mud off and pan it. (I am from California after all, gold rush and all that.)

Sunday

Running Mania is still lost to me. The webmaster has not replied. I still don\’t know why I can\’t get into that web page. I miss them.

Where do I start with everything else? Yesterday I had a vision. Today I felt depression. I do somewhat deserve to be raked over the coals. You should say, \”Spirit Flower, it has only been three days since surgery. Of course that incision hurts if you try to bend your arm too much.\”

Let me go back to yesterday\’s vision. Early in the morning, as I drove the 30 miles to a nearby town to get my organic groceries, I heard an interview with the author of a book about Tiger Woods. His point was that he had experienced failure in his career, and decided to follow Tiger around for his 2008 season to see what he could learn from a winner. By 10 am, I suddenly had that book in my hands and I rushed home to begin reading it.

I read for a little bit and then got up to vacuum the living room. I happened to remember to check the bag and decided to change it. Within a few minutes, I had deftly installed a new bag, using only one arm. I vacuumed, and then laid back down with the book. One of the first things that struck me was an INTUITIVE vision. In the book, it talked about the crowds of people who cheer for Tiger. I suddenly had an INTUITIVE vision of angels and spirit guides and all the host of heaven surrounding me and cheering me on. My victory was that I had not ignored the thought to change my vacuum cleaner bag; instead taking action. The main thing that differentiated me from thousands of people was that I did not ignore the intuitive information. Tiger and his adoring fans had provided a symbol that my intuitive spirit had jumped all over; and which I had not ignored. The whole host of heaven loves me, cares for me and goes wild with joy every time I manage to get off the bed. That I can think like this at all is a major victory for spiritual work. I\’ll never be a world class golfer, or runner, or engineer; but as a spiritual practitioner, I definitely do the work of a world class mystic.

The secret of my soul\’s being is found in this little thing: I changed the vacuum cleaner bag.

Now today, I got up at 5, did my morning spiritual study and went to Kansas City for an 8 am mass, which I left early in order to run 5 miles before a 10 am fellowship meeting. Then, I came home and continued to read the Tiger Woods book. For whatever reason, I was thinking about the large supply of drugs I have in the house. I had a bunch of pain killers left over from last March, but still took a prescription for another bottle. I did not get the pain killers for pain or even addiction but because I think I may want to kill myself some day. Don\’t be alarmed. I\’ve thought this for most of my life.

I am alive today mainly because I did not decide to kill myself. I have no reason to be alive or to kill myself; unless I believe some theological notion I read in a book that says, \”I\’m here learning how not to come back,\” or \”I\’m here because I know the secret and I\’m helping everyone else.\” It is possible I\’m alive because it is not up to me; but up to my inner source. I last went through this life or death decision making process last June. At that time, I concluded that my life was optional but that I had decided to make the most of it.

Now here I am reading about Tiger Woods and thinking about how I have no reason to live. I have enough drugs in the house to kill myself. I have enough running shoes in the house for about 9 months. I have enough fruits and vegetables in the house for a week. I go to work to earn a paycheck, not because of any thrilling accomplishments. Even if I was as successful as Tiger Woods, I don\’t think I\’d want to stay alive just to either win another tournament or to get another multi-million dollar paycheck.

I sense the heavenly host surrounding me. They are holding their breath and crossing their fingers. What will be the outcome of my current introspection? I won\’t decide to take some old men\’s word for it and adopt the Church\’s catechism as my reason for being. I tried that already. I won\’t decide to get involved with service work. I tried that already too. Will I stay alive \”just because,\” and continue to live a meaningless existence? Or will I throw my heart over the bar and continue my spiritual work?

I choose the latter: hope or faith. I might spend the next 6 weeks wondering why I am alive. It is awesome to me that I even allow myself to consider the question consciously. For now, I drank a cup of coffee and went out on the back porch to ride the exercise cycle, walk on the treadmill and then lay on the living room floor to do 150 abdominals. After that, I make some fresh juice. All seems fine. The question is shunted aside for now.

The Heavenly Host ROARS!!!!!!!!!! Cheering out the wazoo.

Emotional Misfit

  • Ingenious thinking is not the truth that shall set you free, but you are free of the need to engage in it when you are willing to let it go.
  • The prayer for forgiveness (looking beyond the ego world) is a request that you may be able to recognize what you already have.
I don\’t fit into human groups. Often I\’m too smart for them. Often I can\’t participate in self destructive behavior like overeating, especially the eating of preservatives. I am not interested in superficial conversations. I see movies and TV as \”programming\” and guard my mind from it. I don\’t belong to a standard religion. I don\’t have family activities. I consume very little. I really believe this ego world is a bad dream, an illusion.

I am a person who has allowed emotions which others hide to surface into my conscious mind. This means I am aware of my hatred and fear of others. This means I react less violently than others because I pray about the emotions before hand. Really, emotions and \”ingenious thinking\” feel the same and perhaps they are. Or, the ingenious thinking is an inner expression of defensiveness coming from fear and hatred.

But, the option of asking Jesus to direct my thinking is very much in the forefront of my consciousness too. I am willing to give up my human thinking in favor of an intuitive thought inspiration or decision.

In this way, I live moment to moment; staying alive in relative peace; not accomplishing anything; putting in the miles of my life\’s self transcendence race; hoping to arrive in the Hands of my Self.