Posts Tagged ‘change’

The presence of peace

July 16, 2011

World peace is possible. Just do things my way.

Frequently, I make the mistake of listening to the news. I occasionally read the news magazines.

Neither is full of sunshine.

Both are overflowing with violence towards ourselves.

My limited scientific knowledge of how we are all interconnected speaks to the truth that we are One. When we attack and harm another, we are essentially waging war against ourselves. If I commit an act of violence against another person, it is my own internal angst that makes me lash out. Something has disturbed my sense of peace and well-being. Self-defense and sociopathy aside, it is the fundamental lack of peace within each one of us that is a prime motivator to violence against ourselves.

I test this constantly. Anytime I feel anger and a desire to lash out at another, I find it is rooted in fear, a disruption of my internal sense of peace. As I listen to the news and hear about the inability of people to resolve their problems without harming another, I feel scared, helpless, and alone.

I wonder: What if each person found their peace within themselves? If we stay centered in our peace, perhaps we would lose our fear. In its place would be trust in oneself and the greater One that we are all motivated from our sense of personal peace. Of course, that fantasy fills me with peace. The problem is that it relies upon the actions of others. It is dependent upon how others are in the world, not how I am in the world. The real test is whether I can maintain my peace even within the greatest of fears. My honest self-assessment acknowledges that I would commit violence to defend the lives of myself and those I love. That includes fighting for food, water, shelter, and safety (first and second in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs). And when I think about our world situation, I get the feeling that our violent behavior is born because we don’t feel safe. We want to assure ourselves that we will have enough food and water. There are people who will put up with atrocious acts committed against them just so they can maintain their food and water supply.

The reality is that there is enough food and water in the world to take care of everyone. That we misuse our water supply and grow food to capitalize wealth is our shame.

We created the games and rules of societal living. We created the system of money and wealth. We created the root of our fear.

Maybe it is time to create something else.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

the presence of transcendence

June 26, 2011

I’ve been working on this blog about transcendence for about a month now. It is a slow process because I am in the process of practicing transcendence to get over myself, and I’ve got a lot of history being myself. The question is: can I be all of who I am and still find joy in my being even when I am limited, even when my circumstances are less than perfect? Can I maintain my presence within my boundaries no matter who or what is tugging me away from my true presence? Can I transcend the fact that I don’t have a clear handle on transcendence and write about it anyway?

It is a moment by moment decision with countless opportunities. I find that if I wait to write about transcendence until I have transcended my life completely, most of us will be a little bit dead.

The word transcendence is tossed around all over enlightenment literature. We are told to transcend this or that. We read about transcendent experiences. Transcendence generally means to go beyond something — beyond an experience, beyond our own states of being. Some definitions are particular in their nuances. One definition describes transcendence as surpassing others, being preeminent or supreme (think “God”). Another says that transcendence lies beyond the ordinary range of perception. Yet another describes transcendence as being above and independent of the material universe. Transcendence is also the state of excelling or surpassing or going beyond the usual limits.

I listen to these definitions carefully as I encounter moments of transcendent opportunity. The general meaning of transcendence – to go beyond something – fits best with how my life is unfolding right now. I define transcendence in terms of choosing how I want to interpret and experience the moments of my life.

I cannot abandon my history. All that I have experienced has brought me to this moment and will follow me into the next moments. I cannot change my experiences, but I can change my perception of those experiences. Much of my life is cued by what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future. If I want to have a different experience than the one I am having right now, it is up to me to transcend my preconceived ideas and ways of being. It may not necessarily change the situation, but it brings more of who I truly am into action.

Stay tuned.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of cycles

May 12, 2011

Last week, I had a birthday. My best friend from high school sent me an e-card that encouraged me to celebrate completing “another trip around the sun.”

All this time, I have been doing nothing more than running around in a big circle. Two circles, actually.

It’s a pretty fast ride. First, the earth is skyrocketing around the sun at about 67,000 miles per hour. Second, our solar system is rotating around the center of the Milky Way galaxy at about 490,000 miles per hour.

At the same, time we are spinning on our axis at about 1,070 miles per hour (although the people at the poles travel slower because their circle is smaller . . . and, no, it does not make you age any slower).

Motion on such a grand scale feels as if I am standing still, yet I am attached and very much a part of these cycles. Motion on a molecular level (my cells dividing, consuming, dying) also feels like I am standing still. I can honestly say that I have never felt my body produce a skin cell.

But I can feel the momentum of one brilliant flash of insight and I am never the same again, no matter how hard I try to go back to me. I am simultaneously more and less than I was the moment before. Some neural energy reached across a synapse and sealed my consciousness to something new . . . something more than I used to be. At the same time, that connection loosens its hold on something I no longer need to be.

The earth is never the same from one day to the next either. The sun has spent energy that it can never recover. Minute by minute, the sun is diminished. I say this, but it would not surprise me if someday we discover that the sun is actually refueling itself. We are just so limited in our human minds that what we cannot conceive must not exist, and that is why we come to many of our erroneous conclusions about our existence.

Back to my point. My cycle of existence is very much a part of, within, connected to, and sustained by the cycles and circles of galaxies and a sun that burns so fiercely, it sustains life 93,000,000 miles away. This immense power has always sustained me and always will. I am changing, evolving, becoming just the same as any star in the universe.

To complicate matters, our Milky Way is zinging its way toward a specific point in the universe. I hope I am ready once we get there.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

A changing presence

September 18, 2010

How God Changes Your Brain has made it to my list of favorite spiritual reads. It is not like most other spiritual books I have read. This one has some nifty scientific stuff in it like references, an index, and everything.

It even has atheists. Although atheists don’t believe in the traditional God of the Bible, they, too, perform meditative and contemplative exercises, and their brains show the same improved activity as those who do believe in God.

Occasionally dry and a bit high level, the authors talk about the brain and how it generally likes to run things. The limbic system (nothing to do with limbo games or that special place in hell where virtuous pagans reside for eternity after they die but both words have their root in the Latin word limbus meaning border or edge) in our brain is a major center for emotion formation and processing, for learning, and for memory. The limbic system likes stability. It likes for things to stay the same. It is probably the reason why the brain dislikes the presence of change.

On page 175 of How God Changes Your Brain, the authors talk about “the belligerent brain” and why it is difficult for us to change our habits and ways even when we want to, even when our thoughts and behaviors don’t serve us well. They state (and I believe them) that our brain gets nervous when we try to change something about ourselves that kept us alive and at least got us to this point in our lives. As near as the brain can tell, whatever methods we are using work well so why change anything?

What’s a presence to do when it wants to change? It is difficult to argue with the limbic system given that the brain is pretty much in charge of everything . . . just try getting along for a few minutes without one. The brain rules with complete autonomy.

Here is why I like this book: the authors offer practical methods that anyone (even atheists) can implement to work with the reluctant brain. Underlying the methods is the need for a conscious commitment to change (those of us in psyche world like to use the word “intent”) and making only small changes each day, along with social support, optimism, and faith. Faith can mean faith that a higher power will support us, but it can also mean that we have faith in ourselves to persevere.

The methods are a set of 12 meditations and relaxation exercises. They are commonly known. To implement them without freaking out your brain and engaging resistance, you need to spend a few minutes each day engaged in one of them. Regularly. Every day. You sit with your nervous brain, allow your limbic system to wring its little brainy wrinkles, and you do what you know you need to do anyway. What you will discover is that your old habits and ways of being will still be there for you to rely on (which reassures your brain), but also you will have the choice of a different behavior available because you have activated a different part of your brain.

At the end of the meditation or exercise, your presence is changed in some tiny, yet significant way. You have more presence available to both you and your brain, and your limbic system will engage to support that change because it is now the you that it recognizes. You are changed, but now you are more of who you truly are.

And your brain will love you for it.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Wanted: New Complaints

May 17, 2010

I was reading in May’s Science of Mind magazine about monotony – doing the same thing over and over and over, and getting the same results, including the same complaints about life.

Traditional wisdom holds that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting a different outcome. We won’t go there today.

Living life with regular repetition supports us. It is helpful to not have to find a new place to sleep every night. Looking for a new job every day would be exhausting.

This particular reading focused on living and thinking the same way, every day, all day long. Now if your life is “humming along” nicely and you are happy with the way things are, why change? The only thing that comes to my mind is “more of the same, please.”

On the other hand, there is that tendency all humans have to look for what is not right in our lives. In other words, complaints. A complaint is nothing more than a decision we make that life is not the way we think it should be or want it to be. A complaint is suffering – realizing that we want something else other than what is.

Suffering is a feeling, an indicator that we are hurting in some way. Suffering tends to lend itself to defining situations that we might be totally powerless over like the death of a loved one. We suffer in that person’s absence, but most of us seek ways to help us feel better. If we endure our grief and see that process through to the end, most of us find ways to regain our happiness level.

A complaint is a verbalization of our suffering and tends to be a judgment in our minds that we don’t like how we are, or what happens, or who someone is, or what a person does, or how life is. If repetitious complaints are showing up in our lives, we need to do something . . . anything . . . different, but it requires changing the way we think. In support of a new way of thinking, DO something different even if you are the only person who knows it is different.

The more we let go of what is wrong, the more we find what is right.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

A fertilizing presence

May 15, 2010

As I promised myself, I took yesterday’s blog to work to remind me of what my intent is. All day long, I kept thinking “this moment is tomorrow’s fertilizer.” And, I thought, “I hope it smells okay.”

Occasionally, I would think “One of these tomorrows, I will have to pay for all this doo-doo I am spreading around here today.” I know what THAT will smell like.

And you thought this was going to be something about fertility or having babies — something pleasant that smells real pretty.

Nope. I’m growing different stuff here. I’m growing tomorrow.

Because we are gifted with past memory and the ability to anticipate our future, we know how life has been in the past. While we cannot guarantee how life will be tomorrow, we know enough to rely on the fact that if nothing changes, our tomorrow will pretty much be like today.

But, of course, life changes. Sometimes we are in charge of the change. Sometimes, change seems random and arbitrary . . . more like it happens to us rather than because of us. There is even a school of thought and theory that believes we are the cause of everything that happens in our lives.

And it does not matter if we believe that theory or not. What matters is tomorrow is going to happen (even if your body dies, you will continue to exist), so what do we want to plant today to grow tomorrow?

In each moment, I have to be completely present so that I can be present for the next moment. That is the first seed I work to plant each day. Next, I pay attention to my eternal presence and respond with the thoughts, words, and actions that are congruent with my true presence. That is my fertilizer. I like who I am finding: someone who loves peace and tranquility but who also loves to work through challenges . . . someone who knows there is enough in the world for everyone so most of our conflict in this reality is just made-up nonsense . . . and someone who believes in her power to create tomorrow by taking care of today.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass