Contrary news reports on the coronavirus got you feeling confused? Everything changing too rapidly to absorb? Feeling like you’re churning in a sea of uncertainty? No worries (unless that’s what you choose to do.)
Look at the bright side. Yes, there is always a bright side, as the Tijitu depicts and notables observed:
“Confusion is the welcome mat at the door of creativity.” ∼ Paul Cezanne
“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” ∼ Pablo Picasso
“Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not yet understood.” ∼ Henry Miller
There is an alternative to the negative energy of panic and hysteria that the media, skeptics, and worriers incessantly project with paintbrushes of gloom and doom. Change the lens of annihilation to burgeoning creativity and watch positive changes explode. Think mushrooms.
“Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”∼ Edward de Bono
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ∼ Albert Einstein
Note: in seeking creativity, I’m not suggesting you become as reckless as the youth on Spring Break. While we are advised to remain home, limit and distance contact (sounds like most who are usually glued to devices at home anyway), there is another suggestion I like. A fellow blogger passed along the simple and safe greeting of Namaskar.
Namaskar. Hmm. That intrigued me. Years ago I learned in Yoga that namaste meant “the beauty in me sees the beauty in you.”Lovely sentiment, but it felt odd greeting others in my western culture with Añjali Mudrā (hands placed together prayer-like and close to the chest while bowing the head toward the other person). After all, I grew up giving hearty hugs to friends and family then firm handshakes in business.
But now, now that close contact can be downright dangerous, fist bumps are considered risky, and elbow bumping feels like the chicken dance, there IS a better way. And one that’s survived the test of time and viruses too.
Greeting others with Añjali Mudrā and saying Namaste or Namaskar perfectly solves the coronavirus admonition to physically disconnect. But, it’s the beauty beyond the surface — a profound connecting while disconnecting — that attracts me.
While various explanations exist for the differences between namaste and namaskar, I like the ones best on detechter.com. Either greeting is said to develop a spiritual connection with the person being greeted. More poignant than a casual “Hello,” “Hi,” “Cheers,” or “Ciao,” I love this greeting of respect and honoring the other person. May its use continue to outlast any virus.
The coronavirus is tragic, I agree. But, here we’ve learned something joyful amidst the corona confusion. Flourishing in the creativity of chaos can lift humanity to another level. The choice, as always, is ours. Let it begin with me.
Mark your calendar, set your alert notifications for the National Day of Unplugging which begins at sundown this coming Friday (March 6) and ends (only if you want it to) at sundown on Saturday (March 7). This mini diary on my smartphone experience explains why I’ll be unplugged too!
Using my brand new android smartphone, I attempt to photograph ceramic tiles in the Lowe’s home improvement store to coordinate with cabinetry. The 20-something clerk sees my difficulties and offers to help.
“I just got this,” I nervously chuckle while handing him the phone.
Quickly he swipes one way then another.
“I started with a flip phone in my teens,” he says. “Even I had to get use to a smartphone. But, you’ll love it,” he assures me. “You can get stock quantities. Use the calculator to determine your costs. Access your bank account to pay for it…”
Oh, not my bank account. But, he makes it look so easy I’m feeling slightly optimistic. I just need practice. I leave the store, my heart warmed more from human kindness in my moment of vulnerability than the possibility of being able to operate my smartphone.
January 17, 2020 – “If You Don’t Use it, You Lose it”
That wise sentiment has survived generations. Because it’s true.
Traveling to a town I haven’t seen in a decade, I momentarily feel lost on an unfamiliar street. Almost instantly I think you have that phone. Pull over and use the GPS. Instead, I look ahead several blocks and see enough moving cars that it appears to be a main road. I decide to use my own skill and think for myself instead of relying on Google for the answer. My instincts are right. I find my way. And I feel all the better for it.
Again and again, I consider the term “smart”phone. Are these phones so smart they make people do stupid things like walk into traffic? Some users can’t even name the street they are standing on. Employees know nothing about the company that employs them or products carried…deferring to the “smart”phone for the answer — or worse yet, telling me to ask a smartphone for the answer.
When phoning my state’s Attorney General because of a telemarketing scam, their Office of Consumer Protection could not explain the difference between a credit freeze and a credit hold. She had to Google it. If 81% of Americans now own a smartphone, I wonder how many can still think for themselves…assess a situation, then think deeply to find a solution without resourcing the phone.
January 18, 2020 – Pushiness Does Not Win me Over
If my android smartphone behaved like my PC where I turn it on, use the programs I need then call it a day, we might get along. But, this smartphone is like a braggadocio date constantly pummeling me with hype. Groan. I don’t look forward to our time together. Instead of extending a hand in friendship, this lurking, slurping, berserk monster tyrannizes me with snarls and bites.
January 20, 2020 – Isn’t Swiping for those Tinder People?
Swiping left — right — up — down makes my head spin. Finally I discover how to change all the swiping to buttons. Yes, I can deal with buttons. I think. But mine are getting pushed.
Today, I’ve decided devices are NOT healthy or friendly and especially for HSPs who can already be too easily overwhelmed. Today, I’m not horrified, just frazzled. While my reasons are different, I definitely feel the link between tech devices and anxiety (and I barely engage with social media). The tracking-tracking-tracking and attempted reprogramming feel like I’m corralled with sheep for slaughter. I refuse to be a clone of whatever SM (social media or techno sado masochism — you decide) or the Evil Tech Sextet (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon) tell me to believe.
“We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our devices.”
I prefer burying my nose in the rose bushes or sun-warmed tomatoes and basil, thank you.
I’ve learned that I often get what I need. So, in a way it was no surprise to read the following message in The Five Invitations – Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully by Frank Ostaseski:
“…we end up addicted to busy.
“The smartphone, our most constant companion, is a shining example of this mentality. A recent survey of San Francisco residents found that on any given day, most people interact with their smartphones more than they do with other human beings. Half of the people surveyed admitted to using their phones to escape social interaction, and nearly a third said they felt anxious when they didn’t have access to their phones.
“Remember when computers were sold to us based on the idea that they would create more leisure time and greater human connectivity? I want my money back.”
I agree with Frank. Big Tech’s given me no reason to believe their phones are for my “convenience.” Remember the promise of a “paperless society”?
Ever stack up your junk mail? It all sounds great on the surface (marketing propaganda usually does)…but in reality I have wasted more time from companies breaching my data and it being sold on the dark web, to deleting phishing e-mails, to avoiding spam calls, and on and on. Why would I want to give up any more precious time and privacy, or put myself at further risk? This is why all the extra “capabilities” of a “smart” phone do not make sense or appeal to me. Seeing a family sitting together with each person’s eyes glued on their own smartphone saddens me.
The Natural Rhythm of Life
Frank Ostaseski quotes a late friend, Angeles Arrien, who often commented that “Nature’s rhythm is medium to slow. Many of us live in the fast lane, out of nature’s rhythm. There are two things we can never do in the fast lane: we can neither deepen our experience nor integrate it.” He says she encouraged others to walk outside for an hour every day and spend at least a half hour in silence every day. “When we lose touch with the rhythms of nature, we become unbalanced,” she said. “To be fully present within our nature, we must be in balance with the land around us.”
I think Angeles was on to something. Surely, I am not the only one in this minority of Neo-Luddites (or partial Neo-Luddite as I’m not an all or nothing gal, or maybe just group of self-reliant persons). This sentiment rings true with me when observing smartphone users: “A cellphone signals my whole world is me and it excludes everyone else.” Remember the old tagline, “Reach out and touch someone”? Try it for real while you unplug this coming weekend. Your smartphone can’t hug you like a friend.
Incomprehensible. Sixteen deaths in 2019, with six of them very close to me — friends, co-workers, family, and my beloved border collie Bess vanished in a six-month tsunami of clearing relationships from my life.
In weathering this heavy-hearted summer, a healing practitioner recommended The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Ripoche. Filled with foreign concepts, it hasn’t been an easy read. Often, I’m in between two or even three books so I picked up an oldie by Alan Cohen — I Had it All the Time. While insightful, the ACIM thread doesn’t completely resonate with me. Still, I get what I need like the passage explaining that when our life is clearing out it is simply preparing us for the new. That message eased some discomfort. Because in all honesty, I’ve felt stuck. For awhile. Well, maybe a year or two…or more.
While preparing for my Turks & Caicos bucket list trip, I thought the quiet solitude and healing waters would elicit the ruminations my HSP self sought…that this sojourn would make sense of 2019’s rapidly falling dominoes of change.
I’m beginning to comprehend all of life — not just death — is a transformation. Like the ocean, there is no end. There is no beginning. It is simply a continuation from one moment to another. Change is not my enemy but a life giving force to move me along like a leaf in a stream, it burgeons my understanding of this journey called “life.”
Once again my island adventure transformed. The first day, the ocean and gale force winds kept everyone out of the water. Totally unexpected but accepted. Each day progressively calmed as the tide washed away the past and swept in fresh awareness. Shifting from fear and grief toward accepting life’s flow is freeing. Trusting that all is well and working out exactly as it’s meant to be releases the anxiety of not knowing. Having faith (and moving my feet) is all I can do. Then see where life takes me.
After a few days of reading, walking, swimming, exploring and resting, tinges of guilt crept in. Why are you avoiding dealing with this? Are you trying to elude those downcast feelings and well of tears?Why are you putting off what you thought you needed to more freely move on?Are your unwritten journal pages diminishing what loved ones meant to you? Why are you procrastinating?
My surprising response was that I was living in the moment. Observing and engaging in the present rather than rehashing the past elicited tiny but powerful connections to the here and now. I was in fact living in the flow…rather than returning to what was and is gone. By the last day of solitude I realized that my lost loved ones would rather see me happy than engulfed in sorrow. My journal entries were not about loss and death but messages teaching me to live and love fully in the now.
Synchronicity delivered timely and profound guidance to me before my mother’s passing. Surprisingly, it originated from a talented Spanish guitar musician (and yoga instructor) whose concert I attended just months earlier. Johannes Linstead’s message radically shifted my thoughts about death and erased any long-held fears. Since that time, it’s become my mainstay. I’ve included his epistle in sympathy cards and received numerous responses that his message also eased their grief and sorrow. In asking this guitar guru for permission to share his words of wisdom, he kindly replied:
Thank you for reaching out. I am so touched that my writings helped you through such a difficult time. To have experienced 15 deaths in such a short time is not easy, especially losing your brother. So sorry. I would be happy for you to share my writings as hopefully it can help others. By the way, my writings are being compiled into a book which I hope to release next year.
Thanks and blessings,
May this original message from Johannes help anyone else experiencing loss and processing grief:
“The End is Transformation”
All that is here and within you is sacred. All that is here and within you is divine. The earth, the animals, the waters, the trees, the rocks, and every human share the same sacredness and divinity. Even with this inherent sacredness and divinity each will come and go in accord to its own destiny and cycle. In life and in death, there is no difference and there is no separation, only transformation.
All in the phenomenal world is birthed into creation, has its lifespan, and its death. But this death is not a real death. The word “death” evokes a feeling within the mind that denotes finality and finality causes a fear. Many people are afraid of the cessation of life, whether it be their own or the life of a loved one and this fear subtly suppresses the ability to truly live. To truly live is to be fearless, to embrace each moment with a complete joy, and to rejoice with a sense of abandon.
The fear of change and the fear of death are two things that if one can learn to accept will make life a benediction for they are the two things in life that cannot be changed. Resistance only causes anguish. To change your relationship to these two supposed enemies requires contemplation, and contemplation requires courage. The spiritual path is a path that requires great courage, which is why some people call it the Way of the Spiritual Warrior, for it is a fight, a daily battle to not get trapped into the trenches of the mundane but instead fight with every breath of your life to reclaim your true domain – the domain of the soul where love, light, truth, and kindness prevail.
If you can reach the breakthrough point of acceptance then your life will be forever changed, joy and peace will enter your heart and fill your being. Being filled with joy and peace no room will be left for delusion, anger, hatred, jealousy or greed. As you transform, the world around you will also transform. The only death you need concern yourself with is welcoming the death of the darkness within you.
Johannes ~ Sevaji
As you can tell, Johannes Linstead is a deeply spiritual person. He is the founder of Divine Earth (divineearth.org), a humanitarian organization promoting meditation, yoga, holistic living, and the healing power of music. Johannes says, “I use music as a way to express what words cannot say. Every note contains a part of me and all the love, joy, hope and compassion in my heart. I believe that music has the power to uplift humanity — I see it all the time at every one of my concerts. To be able to bring happiness to so many people is a true blessing.” Here’s just one of his many expressive songs:
Looking out my window during morning Qigong practice, I glanced up to see this intricate spider web. Amazing to view its work up close…a meditation in itself.
With Halloween approaching, I dug deeper into the curiosities of this scary holiday. I never understood Halloween‘s color combination of orange and black but now it makes more sense. Orange represents autumn, and black signifies death (of summer). I realize, as in how I choose to view life’s transition to death, that this holiday does not have to evoke fear as popularly promulgated.
And those spiders serving as long time mascots for Halloween? There’s a pleasant tale indicating they are the spirit of a loved one watching over you. How befitting in my summer of bereavement, and a more pleasant thought than frightful ghosts and goblins.
Who knew a simple spider web would give new meaning to Halloween for me? It’s become a holiday for recognizing life’s natural transition rather than scaring me to death.
Lucky Three or Not Things come in threes beleaguers my thoughts. A month ago, I received word that my beloved border collie, Bess, passed away while I traveled in Scotland. Last week I received word that my best male friend from college passed away. Memories flash of the three close friends I lost a few years ago — all within nine months (3 x 3) time. Murmurings below the surface question if a third heartbreak will follow.
Contrary aphorisms abound for this popular number. Three’s a charm predicts success after two failures. Or a third misfortune can follow two others. A third soldier lighting a cigarette from the same source was considered unlucky on the WWI battlefield since a sniper could see the first light, aim on the second, and fire on the third.
Similar “superstitions” like don’t walk under a ladder or don’t open an umbrella in the house, I consider more as practical warnings. After all, anything can be dropped from working high above, and an umbrella’s cuspate spokes can be dangerous and obstructive indoors.
That Timeless Number Three My search for a deeper understanding of the number three revealed its timeless phenomenon. Pythagoreans, for instance, believed the number three to be the first triangular number. Besides its strength in triangles, tripods, and pyramids, the notorious number three prevails throughout history and cultures worldwide:
Ancient Symbolism: – A trident appears beside Neptune, Shiva, and farmers. – The Celtic triskele’s three spirals symbolize the Present World-where we live and exist, the Other World-home of our ancestors, spirit guides and deities, and the Celestial World. – The three-petaled French fleur-de-lis originally represented the commoners, nobility, and clergy. In other cultures it’s also symbolized life, perfection, and light.
Mythology: – Greek Cronus fathered three sons – Zeus, Poseidon and Hades; Norse Borr also fathered three sons – Odin, Vili, and Vé. – Mayans believed mankind was created in three attempts (flood destroyed the first man made of clay; a storm washed away the second man made of wood; but the third man made from maize was from whom all are descended). – Celtic gods and goddesses often appear in groups of three.
Religion: – Besides the Trinity, the number three winds throughout Christianity as when it was reported that three wise men presented three gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh), and Jesus’ ministry lasted three years. – Buddhism’s Three Jewels are The Buddha, The Dharma, and The Sangha. – The Torah uses the number three for Jews to mediate between two opposing or contradictory values. – Universal chi, human plane chi, and earth chi compose Taoism’s Three Pure Ones. – Zoroastrianism’s three virtues are Humata (good thoughts), Hukhta (good words) and Hvarshta (good deeds). – Hindu’s Trimūrtitriple deity is Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer.
– Islam’s triple talaq is a Muslim divorce where a husband pronounces three times talaq (Arabic word for divorce). – The Bahá’í faith’s three principles are the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity. – Neopagan religions revere the Triple Goddess deity of maiden, mother and crone.
Fairy Tales and Nursery Rhymes: Remember The Three Little Pigs, Three Blind Mice, or Goldie Locks and the Three Bears?
The Count of Three: – Arithmetic, reading, and writing are academic basics. – “You’re out!” after three strikes in baseball, and three outs end an inning. – Actions requiring synchrony often count to three like one-two-three “Say cheese!”
Music: – Music expresses feelings, ideas and moods. – A chord consists of three notes. – Music’s three main elements are melody, rhythm, and harmony.
Art: – Composition is based on the Rule of Thirds. – Artists create with three primary colors of red, yellow and blue. – Writers have a beginning, middle and end.
Nature and the Environment: – Physics, chemistry, and biology are the three types of natural laws. – The physical environment consists of land, sea, and sky. – Folklore and religions describe life in heaven, hell, and on earth.
Medicine and Science: – India’s Ayurvedic medicine revolves around three doshas — vata, pitta and kapha. – Variation, heredity, and selection are the three principles of evolution. – Personality theory is based on the id, the ego and the superego.
The Unity of Three Three can be an expression of unity as in father, mother and child or how one can become three as in me, myself and I. Of course, we’ve been told three’s a crowd but three is also a tie-breaker. Perhaps one is too solitary, and two is too black and white final. It is three that offers possibility like a shade of grey as in this, that, other, or door 1-2-or 3.
The number three appears almost everywhere. What do you think of the number three? Has it played any significance in your life?
Three Deep What is it that makes three so powerful and for years on end? Yogis access intuition through their third eye. Some may deem consideration of three as linear thinking or apophenia — a universal human tendency to seek patterns in random information. For me, observing patterns is a trait I developed in my youth to manage an unpredictable home life. Even if erroneous, considering the next possibility eliminated the shock when voices escalated and doors slammed.
My Adult View of Three… As a gardener, I understand plants need earth, water, and air. Three-leaf clovers make me smile, and I’m cautious near three-leaved poison ivy or oak. My red-white-and blue spirit cherishes life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I’ve learned that the number three can represent past, present and future, or body, soul and spirit. As the number of completion, I recognize that Bess and my college buddy have lived their cycles of birth, life and death — something that every living creature will experience. It just is. The way of life.
Photos of Scotland appear like subdued, opalescent paintings to me. Yet, when viewing these strikingly beautiful landscapes in person, they are just as dream-like.
Visiting Scotland a few weeks ago felt just as surreal in that I was finally fulfilling a lifelong dream…but learned early on that my beloved Ceilidh’s Bess passed. As I explored the western coast to the Isle of Skye then through the northwest Geopark, Scotland’s sweeping misty lens rendered surprising transparency into my own life.
Pay attention to how you feel in any given place. The words came back to me. Is the energy uplifting or downcast? Spirit-filled or draining? Am I feeling joy? Fear?
Wrapped among impassioned layers of enchanted forests and glens, glacier sculpted landscapes, pristine waters, and steep majestic mountains that hold thousands of years of stories untold, my spirit felt at home in the Highlands. Similarly, but on a wee scale, my northeastern American residence is sheltered in a mountainside of woodland lushness and sparking streams. I know now that north is true for me.
Learning about the Scottish Clearances and feeling the feelings of my long ago homeland illuminated my ken. I knew truth stood before me.
In the Clearances, inhabitants were ordered off their land then watched as their houses were burned.
Fighting the natural gas pipeline is my personal, modern day experience of the Clearances. I understand powerlessness when forced against one’s will. I know the heartbreak of loss.
Learning through Grief
I began this post before the untimely loss of my best friend — Bess my beloved 14 1/3 year old border collie. Acceptance soothes my broken heart when acknowledging this will happen to each and everyone of us and everyone we love, that this behest of time is a transformation of life. I continue learning through my loss of Bess…such as doing what I can then letting go, and the power of thought and perspective. I anticipate sharing more from time to time on insights gained through this experience…
“All of life’s experiences are to be either enjoyed or learned from.”
— Alan Cohen
Bess gave me both.
I am curious to know how you process grief. A sage shared this short (18 minute) video with me. Hopefully, you will benefit as well — not just in a time of need.
Familiar with that black and white yin-yang symbol, known in ancient Chinese philosophy as taijitu? Surely you’ve seen dogwood trees gracing the landscape but have you seen their taijitu?
Look closely at the blooms on this glorious tree. Each stunning bract (appearing as one of four flower petals) appears marred like a bruise or singe blemishing its perfect beauty.
The contrasting cleft reminds me of my Qigong instructor’s explanation of the taijitu: “The small dots on each side indicate that life is not perfect; nothing is 100 percent.”
That visual concept widened my black and white perspective to realize nothing is all good or all bad. I became more accepting of life as is. Even to say a perfectly imperfect life is perfect as it is. Hmmm. Seems Mother Nature already knew this. Am I surprised?
Some More Thoughts on the Small Black and White Circles (in Taijitu)…
“Located in the areas of their opposite colors, the small circles show that nothing is absolute. In each of the opposing forces there is a small part of the other. In all yin, there is yang and in all yang, there is yin… In every good, there is a little evil and vice versa. Nothing in the universe or in life is simply black or white. Each exists in the other and each needs the other in order to exist.” from the Complete Guide to Yin Yang Meanings for Life, Work, Home and Balance by Feng Shui Practitioner, Sally Painter.