Inner Landscapes

I get the urge for going
When the meadow grass is turning brown
Summertime is falling down
And winter’s closing in

–Joni Mitchell

godswhisperI have recently begun to have regular contact with a new spirit guide. I think he has been prowling around at the edges of my consciousness for a long time — maybe for years — but it seems that the time has finally come for me to get to know him better. Ever since my first trip as an adult to the American West in 1995, I’ve experienced an intense longing to go back, to experience it more deeply. This longing has waxed and waned over the years, and sometimes it has disappeared entirely. I got a chance to indulge this longing with a trip to South Dakota last summer; and I found myself particularly affected emotionally by the herds of bison in the Black Hills, and most especially by one poster of a bison standing in the snow that I chanced to see in the gift shop in the Badlands. Its eyes seemed incredibly human and terribly sad.

A month or so ago, I was clearing out my house clutter as part of my physical manifestation overhaul when I chanced on a small stone carving of a bison given to us by my in-laws, who lived in Denver for a while. It brought on a surge of longing that was visceral, almost painful. Then, finally, a few weeks ago, I was driving my son home from school, thinking about these feelings, thinking about the bison, musing about it, when I realized that the bison was talking back — I had slipped into a meditative state and made contact with the guide.

Continue reading “Inner Landscapes”

Abundance Experiment: Adam’s Peace, Shift Your Spirits, and the Gods are Bored

A couple of weeks back, Lexi Sundell at Energies of Creation began an abundance experiment. In order to explore the dynamics of giving and receiving abundance, she came up with the idea to begin regularly contributing to web sites and organizations that she deeply appreciates. Each month, she intends to pick a handful of sites and link to them, explaining why they are meaningful for her, and donate to them publicly. The idea is simply to get the ball rolling — to use creative, generous energy to spread abundance:

As an example of creative energy, donating empowers abundance. Our attention and our intentions are fully directed to recognizing what is of value. When followed by the act of donation itself, what we value is then magnified not only for ourselves but for others as well. Besides that, it’s a lot of fun to do!

sellingsalvationiiI was delighted and surprised when she put me on her list — thank you, Lexi! I thought it was a great idea, too, so I decided to do it myself. The very short list of blogs below is not at all exhaustive, but for me at this moment, they represent bloggers to whom I feel especially grateful — because of their personal friendship and the light their blogging brings into my life.

Adam Alexander of Adam’s Peace is methodical, idealistic, creative, and as smart as they come. In his blogging he explores any and all topics, but especially the search for peace in his life and in the world at large. He always writes with raw honesty, and helped me personally more than once with his uncommon spiritual insight.

Slade Roberson of SladeRoberson.com is a spirit of fire that explores inner space, outer space and spiritual space with vigor and courage. It’s hard for me to say whether he’s more talented as a medium or an author — and perhaps, for him, it’s the same process. His advice is always sage and timely, and his heart is open to all.

Anne Johnson of The Gods are Bored has more naked writing talent in her little finger than I have in my whole body — and I’m not a small guy. Whenever she posts — and gods be praised, she posts frequently! — I click over immediately, because she’ll get me to laugh no matter what kind of day I’ve had. But don’t be fooled: just when it sounds like she’s being silliest, that’s when she’s most serious. In the grand tradition of Twain and Pratchett, you find yourself thinking about the issues she raised long after you stop laughing.

Thank you, and abundance on you all!

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Positive Loving Kindness: Using Opposites to Banish Negativity

A few weeks ago, I posted the text and instructions for a meditation designed to find purpose and direction through cultivating loving kindness, in the grandest old Buddhist tradition. In my experience, the meditation is a great way to quiet the needy voice of the ego so that Spirit can speak, restoring the connection to your highest goals. I also noted that I’d recorded a guided version of the meditation, useful if you’d rather not memorize the whole thing ahead of time, downloadable here.

ire41But an Attentive Reader, Claire from Ireland, pointed out that there was a huge contradiction between the text of the meditation and an earlier post of mine on the proper phrasing of affirmations. In that post, I wrote about negation, vagueness, and other kinds of language that ought to be avoided when stating your intentions for Spirit. If evidence from phonosemantics is to be believed, negation (like “no”, “not”) and vagueness (“all”, “some”), and time dependencies (“will”) are completely ignored by Spirit, so that an affirmation like “I will not gain weight” changes into “I gain weight”. But Claire noticed that the text of the meditation is full of negatives, right from the very beginning:

May I be free from anger.
May I be free from sadness.
May I be free from pain.
May I be free from all suffering.

Confusing the issue further: Claire had downloaded the meditation and listened to it, and noticed that in the recording, almost all of these negative statements were replaced with positives:

May I be full of love.
May I be full of joy.
May I be full of good will.
May I be free from all suffering.

As Claire says:

In the recorded meditation … you only use one negative: May I (or they) be free from all suffering. There, the rest of the list is phrased positively. In the article, they’re about equally balanced between positive and negative. I have occasionally used a version like the one from your post since I was a teenager (i.e. on and off for over ten years), and I know from my own experience that if I’m very down and hating myself then it’s much more likely I’ll get stuck on the negative words and resonate with anger, pain and suffering than that I’ll be able to conjure a positive feeling to counter them. I haven’t used this meditation for a few years, which is why I downloaded your guide. I definitely hadn’t heard of intention-manifestation back when I was using it, so I wouldn’t have been paying any attention to how the affirmations were phrased. Today, having encountered the two different versions one after the other, and with the memory of your recent post (which really resonated with me) fresh in my mind, the difference was striking.

I totally goofed on this one!!

When I started recording the meditation, I noticed that the text I’d prepared was quite negative; I could feel the negative energy as I was speaking, sure enough! So I quickly tried to fix it. That’s what I recorded. Then later, when I was writing the article, I totally forgot about that, and just used my original text. Whoops!!

Banishing Negativity

Claire went on to muse with a great deal of insight about the best way to fix the text:

I can’t think of how to re-phrase some of the affirmations in a positive manner. What is the opposite of anger, for example? Somehow ‘peace’ feels different to me, broader somehow, than simply ‘not angry’. Similarly, one does not have to feel joy to not feel sadness — peace could cover that as well, or simply emptiness, or… Perhaps it’s necessary to identify the negatives in order to reject them? I was thinking of immediately countering each one, perhaps like this:

I love myself.
May I be free from anger.
May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be free from sadness.
May I be happy.
May I be free from pain.
May my body be healthy and strong.
May I be free from all suffering.
May I be at peace.

but that feels all wrong, somehow. The four positives at the end build up a powerful feeling for me which this order doesn’t deliver. Any suggestions? I really liked the positive build-up in your recorded version, but maybe it’s good to remember what you’re trying to get rid of? It kind of corresponds to the release of fear…maybe it’s good to acknowledge that you have these negative feelings, then consciously replace them with positives? Perhaps run through the list at the start of the meditation, then focus on the positive? Maybe something like:

Anger vanishes.
Sadness vanishes.
Pain vanishes.
All suffering vanishes.

I like in particular the way Claire ties our emotional states into the communication we’re trying to make with Spirit. I think she’s right to focus on how the words make us feel — it’s much more important than their literal meaning. But I also agree that it’s important to evoke somehow the feelings you’re trying to banish, to acknowledge them and replace them. I’d argue, though, that you can do that without actually naming the emotions involved. The key is in understanding how opposites work.

The Opposite of Anger is…

Most people would say that the opposite of something — say, “X” — is “not X”, but that isn’t the case at all. The opposite of happy isn’t not-happy, it’s sad; and the distinction here is crucial. Not-happy includes all kinds of emotional states — melancholy, depressed, or angry, grumpy — or any other negative emotion. It also includes apathy, or the lack of any emotion; and it includes logic, and green, and anything else that’s not an emotion at all. But the opposite of happy isn’t any of that; it’s sad. Why? Because happy is a very simple, generic positive emotion, and its opposite needs to be a very simple, generic negative emotion. In other words, sad is just like happy except for one crucial difference.

Take another example: what’s the opposite of black? White, of course! Not any other color or shade, not music or logic or bananas or anything like that. Black is the absence of all kinds of light, and its opposite needs to be the presence of all kinds of light (ideally, all colors of light together in equal proportion). In other words, white is just like black, except for one crucial difference.

So you see how opposites work? Two things are opposite if they’re almost the same, but reversed in one essential feature. (Amazing how linguistics can come in so handy in totally unexpected places!)

So what is the opposite of anger? It really depends on what you think anger is. The American Heritage, my favorite dictionary, says it’s “a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility”; so we want something that means “a strong feeling of pleasure or non-hostility“. Joy is a pretty good candidate, but I don’t think it carries the idea of non-hostility far enough: anger is such a targeted emotion, we really need something that means “welcoming” or “taking delight in something”. The best word I know of is love.

The same exercise needs to be carried out with the other words in the meditation. I didn’t do this much analysis when I did my quick rewrite for the recording, so the phrasing could undoubtedly be improved by going through it more carefully.

Notice that doing this addresses the issue of acknowledging and banishing the bad emotion at the same time. Because you’re taking “anger” and finding out what it’s made of, and identifying an emotion that is its real opposite, you’re really targeting every part of anger and replacing it with its opposite. Contained in the word love is all the information you need to identify anger and dispell it.

Positive Loving Kindness

So below is the text of the meditation as it appears in the recording. There are still a few negative statements in it, but for the most part everything has been converted to positives. See if you can feel the difference, too.

I love myself.
May I be full of love.
May I be full of joy.
May I be full of good will.
May I be free from all suffering.
May my body be healthy and strong.
May I be filled with loving kindness.
May I be happy.
May I be at peace.

I spread this loving kindness out.

I send love to those who are dear to me.
May their difficulties fall away.
May they be full of love and strength.
May they feel only joy and good will. May they be healthy and happy.
May they be at peace.

I send loving kindness to my friends and associates.
May they be full of love, peace, and joy.
May they feel compassion and goodwill. May they be healthy and happy.
May they be at peace.

I send love and kindness to all the people of the world, known and unknown, everywhere on earth.
May all on this planet be free from suffering.
May they be full of joy, goodwill, and hope.
May they be happy and at peace.

May all beings in the universe be free from suffering.
May all beings in all universes, everywhere, be free from suffering.
May they be well, and happy, and at peace.

May all beings of all kinds, in all directions, be happy and at peace.
Above and below, near and far, high and low.
All types of beings.
Humans and non-humans. Seen and unseen. May they be happy; may they be at peace.

I open my heart and receive loving kindness of all beings in return.
I let that love into my heart.

May all be well and happy.
May there be peace.

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