Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Counter Creatures

For as long as they've been the three meowscateers, my cats' favorite pasttime is to wait for me to leave the kitchen/dining room area so they can play on the kitchen counters, forage in the drain traps in the sink, try to open all the cupboards (which now have baby locks), and check the floor for crumbs.

I could go through all the sanitation reasons as to why I don't like this. I could go through the cats' health reasons, but in the end it simply drives me nuts. Freakin' nuts!

And they know it. I come out of the bedroom to get a glass of water and I'll hear three thumps, and scurrying feet, see tails and identifiable cat fur streaking from the kitchen to hide cleverly behind the couches in the living room. And then they peak around behind the furniture, hoping I might be so incredibly dense as to not notice them.

Poppy, on the left, is the Evil Genius and the Queen of the Pack (note she has the remote control), though she does suffer occassional embarrassments from her hair fetish, which can be difficult to get untangled from. Cali, on the right, is a Zen Buddhist Kitty by Day, and a Ninja Kitty by Night. She actually has a "look" for each of her personnas. Above we've caught her in "the change" - like the Hulk, her green eyes are beginning to show, and soon she'll become Ninja Kitty by Night. Aagh! Run! Flee!

Nicolai, named after the Alaska village and Iditarod checkpoint by an 8-year-old Iditarod enthusiast (now 15 going on 30), is the bad-boy scapegoat. He's the Boss, and the loaner. If he could smoke and grease his hair back, he would. He's Thomas O'malley the Alley Cat with an attitude.

This is his most innocent face.

"Yeah, I'm real innocent. Just wait until she leaves the room!"

Cute to a one-time observer, but when this happens all the time, and you see the waftering fur on the counters, and they're grazing on watery chunks of God-knows-what in the drain trap, and they're licking on what laying on the counters?...Agh! No!!

So, since I've lately been studying Byron Katie, I decided to apply her four-question technique to this situation. It starts with making a statement about something that really really bothers you in your life - something that creates struggle. My statement: I don't want the cats to get on the counters. Then you ask these four questions:

1) Is it true? My firm and emphatic reply was "YES!"

2) Is it absolutely true? My more thoughtful, still firm reply was "Yes."

3) How do you react when you think this thought? I get tense, I feel anger and frustration. They're impertinent! Disrespectful! It pisses me off! (Disprespectful? At this point, I'm sniggering at myself, but this is really how into this "story" I get!)

4) Who would you be without the thought? I felt good, peaceful. I had visions of the cats playing on the counters in the sunlight. In front of me. Never-before-seen-footage of them walking about the stove, the toaster, the fruit bowl. No problem. In fact, I was calm, more relaxed, more loving toward them and everyone around me in the room. I felt nothing but love toward them.

And the final step to the process is that you turn your statement around: I want the cats to get on the counters. And as Byron Katie says, "Yes, that's good, but there's one more way to turn it around - what is it?"

I want to get on the counters.

I laughed out loud! (The cats flew off the couch - "Run! She's gone mad!") How hilarious! How silly! And yet I think about the cats and me on the counter, playing, being happy. And why not? Let it go. There are better battles to fight.

And that's just it, isn't it? The Universe is always loving and humorous. Always, every time, without question. The only battles out there are the ones we choose.

And I found that the real trick to this process is that after you ask the questions and see the wisdom, you have to embody the wisdom. You have to walk your new-found truth. Not an easy walk, but one worth taking. All over the counters if you have to. I'm working on it - me and the Ninja cats...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Authentic Power: the Path of the Masters

"To live without a stressful story, to be a lover of what is, even in pain - that's heaven. To be in pain and believe that you shouldn't be in pain - that's hell."
- Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

How can you find peace when you are surrounded by unpredictable and antagonistic situations, people, and events?

We tend to look outside of ourselves to figure out how to make everything and everyone harmonize with us. But if you are trying to get to San Diego from Phoenix, you do not drive to Denver. And by looking outside of yourself to make you feel better, you are driving the wrong direction. The only place you can ever look to feel peaceful, happy, and fulfilled is inside of yourself.

Take a Journey...

My Journey started when I began to examine what life was, what my existence was about. I began to see that anger wasn't a result of what people had done to me in the past; it was a result of my choosing to dwell on that past. I was my source of my anger. And every time I continued to bring up the past, my anger was justified and I perpetuated it. I kept it alive by staying the victim.

Powering Through...

I discovered that "Power" isn't about making others apologize or be nice to me, or about changing the past or wielding influence over another. True Power is an individual choice and a perspective: You can choose to be happy in this moment, or to continue being unhappy about the past. Staying in the moment is true Power. Because to choose being in the moment is to choose how you feel. The story goes that when China invaded Tibet, a western journalist asked the Dalai Lama how he could be so peaceful in the face of such violence. The Dalai Lama asked the journalist, "Should they also take my mind?"

This is Power...

So try this Eckhart Tolle exercise to be fully in the moment: Just for this moment, feel your awareness as you sit in your chair. Observe yourself. Feel your hands from the inside - not by using your mind to think about them, just notice what your hands feel like from the inside. Are they large or small? Tingling or heavy? Can you feel your feet from the inside? Notice how they feel for a moment. That feeling in your feet and hands is your consciousness, who you really are. Notice your breath as it fills up your lungs, then notice the air as it exits your body. This intense noticing of your body and its "beingness" is Awareness, your Being, you in the Now.

Do you see how there is only your hands and your feet when you are doing this? Do you see how in the moment of noticing your hands and feet, you let go of the past and those feelings associated with past events? Try also feeling your head, your ears, your legs, your whole body. The more you practice this, the longer you can do it, the clearer you become. Other ways to be in the now include creative endeavors, such as drawing, carpentry, dancing, martial arts, and writing. Try any of these and notice how you delve completely into your creation. You let go of the need to control, and yet you are still very in control. The difference is that you are aware.

This moment - the Now - is all there ever is. Our "mental mind" tells us differently, that we have to focus on our past and worry about the future. But past and future do not exist. Our mental mind tells us "of course they exist! Look how screwed we were last time! We must be prepared so we are not screwed the next time!" and then tries to get us to worry about the future again so that we don't get screwed again, so that we can watch "them" even more carefully, so that we can know when we're about to be duped or hurt, so that we can have a witty or intelligent retort ready, so that we can prevent horrible things or great embarrassments, so that we can figure it all out, so that we can make our next move, etc. etc. etc.

Let that go. Sit in your chair, feel your body in that chair, your feet on the ground. You are grounded like a tree, your energy radiates up to connect with the sky. You are here in the Now. This is your Power. This is a spiritual practice. When you practice it, you are exercising your spiritual muscle. Soon, as your muscle builds, it becomes easier, and you begin to feel good about life, yourself, your relationships, your path, your choices. You let go of the need to be in control, and suddenly you see that you are in control. Because when you are being still, and in the Now, you can hear the wisdom of your intuition.

Feel Good...

The only thing we are required to do to lead a fulfilled, happy, prosperous life, is to feel good and be in the moment.

Our bimonthly group is practicing noticing when we feel fear, frustration, annoyance, etc. This practice is primarily to dissipate negative feelings by bringing our attention to the emotion. When we observe our negative feelings, our awareness processes it quickly, and it dissipates almost as soon as you turn on the "oberservation mode." Below is the exercise our group is practicing for the next two weeks. After a few weeks, I'll blog about the group's general observations.
To learn more about being in the Moment, check out Eckhart Tolle's books or CDs titled "A New Earth" or "The Power of Now". To learn more about why feeling good will benefit you overall, read or listen to the Abraham-Hicks book or CD "The Law of Attraction". These books are just a few that I have read recently, but there are many other wonderful spiritual teachers with books, CDs, and DVDs out there, so find the ones that jump out at you, and try them!

Eckhart Tolle, Abraham, Byron Katie, and other spiritual leaders say that nothing is more important than that you feel good. This exercise is about noticing how often and why negative feelings arise, and how when we are in the moment and being aware, these bad feelings tend to process and dissipate. For the next several days, your homework is to notice whenever you feel bad - sad, frustrated, annoyed, defensive, angry. Notice the negative feelings, then ask yourself:

* Do I want someone else or something else to change to make me feel better?
* Am I judging me or someone else?
* Am I defending my position for feeling bad?

Then take the perspective of the Observer who is watching your negative feelings. Just notice them from an aware, conscious place. When you do this, what happens to your feelings?

Try not to beat yourself up or judge yourself as you observe, just notice what your feelings are, and watch them dissipate. This is a spiritual practice, so try it for the next several days until our meeting, and see if it doesn't make you more aware of old patterns.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Little Spot of Mayhem

Today is a day of choosing, symbolized by the vote. After unplugging from the news for a few weeks now, I feel so much better, and have been spending the extra time reading, going for walks in nature, and doing fun or creative things I don't often give myself time to do.

Recently I heard that there is a possibility that the outcome of the election could result in bad things: mayhem, destruction, even blood shed. Not good stuff.

That this news came to me tells me that I would benefit today by keeping the TV turned off, and instead putting my attention on positive things, focusing on good, finding things that make me feel good. Because everything I see happening outside of a myself, correlates to an issue going on inside of me. In other words, because the suggestion of possible mayhem came up in my "outside" experience, I have a little spot of mayhem inside of me.
When I see spots of mayhem, I know it's time to laugh with my daughter over a game of Tivial Persuit, bundle up and walk my Brandy dog on beautiful snowy trails, write, paint, and do for me what I love to do. While some see this as "selfish" or as me covering my ears and saying "lalalalala" don't wanna hear, don't wanna know, it is actually me showing the universe what I want more of ... I am harnessing the law of attraction.

When I feel good and do things that make me feel good, I am asking for more good to come to me, and in turn, this adds to the field of consciousness that we are all a part of. Therefore, this adds a little more good, a little more joy, a little more love to our world. So if a person chooses to look for and then spend time watching mayhem unfold, they will be feeling fear, tension, and possibly anger. But my hope is that they will join me in feeling good, letting go of the desire to watch whether mayhem unfolds, and instead focus on enjoying the rest of this beautiful day.

Much love and light to everyone on this day of choosing. Off to do those little things for me.