Archive for March 2015

Dogma – Rev. Stephen “Clyde” Davis

In an earlier post I alluded to religious or spiritual dogma, and I’d like to say more about that now.

My understanding of the term “dogma” involves a rigidity that I find unappealing. Most dogma is presented as an incontrovertible truth – something that cannot and should not be questioned. Much religious dogma is of that “love it or leave it” ilk, and even a lot of spiritual dogma also falls into that category. There are, however, many spiritual and religious practices and beliefs that are much more flexible.

I prefer to adhere to beliefs that encourage questioning and are adaptable to each individual. I find it difficult to accept any belief that discourages inquiry. I also like to fool myself into thinking I don’t hold onto any dogma in my spiritual experience. I convince myself that my dogma is merely “encouragement” or “suggestions.”

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So what specific beliefs do I hold that could be considered dogma? Well, some of my “suggestions” include:

  • A daily or regular spiritual practice.
  • Full ownership of and responsibility for my experience, expression and behavior.
  • Being open and receptive to differing points of view.
  • Practicing non-judgment.
  • Expressing my truth in a clear and responsible way.
  • Refraining from “preaching.”
  • Listening more than speaking.
  • Asking questions to avoid projecting.
  • Avoiding generalizations
  • …and many, many more.

As much as I want you to agree with me and prioritize the same beliefs and values, I have to release that want and do the best I can to accept that what works best for me is not automatically what will work for you.

I am constantly tempted to hold you to my standards and judge you “less than” if you dare live your life differently than me. And that very temptation is what helps me see how easily my “suggestions” can morph into dogma.

I constantly struggle to let go of the notion that, “If it works for me, it must work for you.” When I am able to operate without that dogma, wonderful things happen. I begin to really hear you and realize the value of your different experience. And my dogmatic belief changes into a more flexible notion of, “If it works for me, it might work for you too.” And them, ultimately, I have the option of making that notion into, “It works for me and it doesn’t have anything to do with you.”

Then I am truly free.

Separating from my attachment to dogma also impacts how I am received by you. When I talk about how my beliefs and values work for me without suggesting or implying any “you shoulds,” I allow you to hear me more clearly. When I speak of my experience and own it as best I can, I allow you to have your own experience, free from my expectations and wants.

This is a complicated topic for me, and one that I am actively processing day-to-day. I aspire to a better and clearer understanding, but I realize that it must take its own time.

More to come, I’m sure.

Clyde

GROWING PAINS: This Choice Is My Own – Lydia Taft

I was having a perfectly peaceful morning after three days away from work.  It was a lovely day, filled with potential and opportunity, and I was considering how I might further enjoy it.  I decided I would study my emotional climate and gauge where I stood in the moment. This study led me to realize that I was on my fourth day of total peace and, as much as I hated to admit it, I felt somewhat dull.  I wondered in that moment… What more might life offer me to make things more exciting?

Within seconds of that thought, I received a phone call from my daughter.   As always, I asked for more and the universe answered.  My daughter was on the phone to inspire me towards more.  So I took my practiced breath and answered her call.  It turned out that I was given yet another opportunity to be afraid and worried for her.  She was stressed and afraid, and, not surprisingly, I jumped right on board her fear train rather quickly.  As I listened I felt frustration and fear, and then helplessness and anger, grow within me. 

Great!  I sit here now and think, “Way to go Lydia.  Way to practice alignment!”  Okay… in this moment I will put all judgment aside for myself and my daughter.  I’m not going to get lost in one sad story on top of another.  What I am going to do is figure out how to not sit in this fearful place for much longer.

So here I am with headphones on, and beautiful meditative music soothing the stress that I have allowed to fill my body.  I realize I have to sort through my thoughts and tap into what I profess is my truth.  What do I know, I ask myself? 

I know I am more than this fear feeling.   I am something greater than fear.  

I realize that I have been more in many instances and I remain capable of being in a state of joy and peace.   I realize that I often feel much more clarity than this.  In this moment, as I am writing this experience out, I absolutely know that I will eventually work my way through and out of what feels painful.  Feelings always pass.

As I calm and soothe myself, it becomes very clear to me that I asked for growth and I received exactly what I desired.  It came in a three minute conversation.  I jumped into a fear state.  My fear, although familiar, allowed me to desire something better for my daughter and myself.  My highest self expanded to that desire and I had to catch up.

That’s all this is, I remind myself.  This experience, like so many others, is exactly right.  My daughter is clarifying her life and expanding towards her greatest self, and so am I.  We are both on our right paths.  Our paths are unfolding.  I can choose to feel a bit better or a bit worse.  

This choice is my own. 

Drawing Strength from the Goddess Archetype: Part 2 of 2 – Monica Myers

Feminine power isn’t something we go out and acquire; it’s already within us. Its something we become willing to experience. Something to admit we have. –Marianne Williamson

 

I remember encountering for the first time images of the Goddess when I was an undergraduate student taking an anthropology class. I was shocked to learn that goddess mythology predated Christianity by thousands and thousands of years. I had never heard of a goddess cosmology until then. In fact, the Great Goddess, before she was split into many different forms, is one of the most ancient symbols historians and archeologists have discovered, dating as far back as 30,000 B.C. when the first sculptures of bone, ivory or stone appeared. For me, she is the ultimate proof that an older grace and wisdom exists and is available to us today. Her image holds a key to the healing of our fractured souls.

 When you think of the feminine, what first comes to mind? Physical beauty? Nurturing? Submissiveness? Weakness? Feelings? Birthing? Sugar, spice, and everything nice?

The feminine archetype is especially misunderstood in our era, today.  Marion Woodman notes that “noisy literalism” now characterizes the struggle between the “ready-made masculine” and the “ready-made feminine.” A more authentic understanding of the concepts of “masculine” and “feminine” does not actually associate them with biological gender. In fact, a young woman may not be entirely at home with the feminine, just as a man may be intimidated by his own masculine energy.

 Similarly, a return to the Goddess is not about destroying the patriarchal ego, rather it’s about embracing the tension of opposites in a healthy, conscious and balanced way. 

As Woodman states, “The feminine is the instrument of recognition of the masculine, as the masculine is the instrument of recognition of the feminine.  The one is present in the other as the instrument of consciousness itself.” Carl Jung, too, believed that individual wholeness was dependent on balancing each within us.

In addition to embodying hope for a harmonious global existence, the Goddess has taught me many things about how to live my life. Briefly, I mention them here.

  •  Body as a source of the numinous. The Goddess has taught me to honor my body as sacred. According to the Great Goddess, the spiritual and the physical are two aspects of the same reality. The Goddess is embodied in every living thing; spirit is immediate and actual, not something earned later. Our bodies are a living source of the divine feminine, so connection to our bodies, equates to connection with the divine. This contrasts our cultural norm and practice of living primarily in our heads; of attempting to transcend our bodily existence.

 

  • Respect and honor for nature. The Goddess’s own body is the universe. Her image represents nature and the interdependence of the natural world. Humans, animals and plants are all seen as connected through the process of seasonal awakening, growing, fattening, and dying; the life force, growing powers and the death instinct are recognized as dwelling in all living things; therefore all of nature is sacred. Accordingly, as humans, our very existence is tied to the health and existence of other species and the planet as a whole.

 

  • Life on earth is constant transformation. Among her lessons is that the essence and beauty of life is a cosmic dance of perpetual and rhythmic change between creation and destruction, birth and death; there is no new life without death, both literally and metaphorically. If we want to change and grow emotionally and spiritually, we must let go of something, something within us must die.

 

  • Being okay with the unknown/resting in mystery. The true feminine knows life is cyclical and full of mystery and the unknown, and that security is achieved, not in materialism, but in spiritualism. In my experience, accepting this reality lessens anxiety about the future and cultivates a greater sense of presence, faith, trust and vitality. After all, all things are born of the dark.

This is challenging to write because I can hardly do justice to the fullness and richness, the rigor and dimension of the divine feminine in one short blog.  Above all, the Goddess inspires me to align my life with my heart. When we fail to listen to our heart and soul’s yearning, we are sleepwalking through life.  I don’t want to be a walking dead.  From a metaphorical standpoint, it’s curious that our culture has a current fascination with them.

We live in interesting times. Well-known and respected mythologist Joseph Campbell stated, “we are the ‘ancestors’ of an age to come, the unwitting generators of its supporting myths, the mythic models that will inspire its lives. In a very real sense, therefore, this is a moment of creation.”

There are no models for anything that is going on today. The old models are not working, and the new have not yet appeared. This is our present challenge: it is up to us to shape the new into existence.

In this moment of creation, can we really afford to be bound by myths about the feminine that keep us small, unbalanced, and fractured?

 

Monica Myers, MPH, MA, LPCC is a teacher and therapist currently accepting new clients. She has offices in Boulder, Denver and Golden. She invites your comments, questions and responses.

 

Find out more about Monica and her practice online at the Boulder Art Therapy Collective.

 

Contact Monica:
monimyers69@gmail.com
720-378-6603.  

 

Warrior’s Way, LLC: Welcome to the Playground – Glenn Bott

We’re all players in this great Game of Life.  By taking a step back and viewing life as a Grand Adventure, you free yourself to have more fun and not take it all so seriously.

Many play the Game of Life with their focus on the accumulation of money.  While money is certainly necessary, I submit that it is not the only reward.  What good is money without health?  Without love?

I believe in a balanced life – with the accumulation of joy and well-being as the ultimate reward. 

Everything else is just a tool to help you experience more joy and happiness.  This takes us back to the age old question, “Do you live to work or work to live?”  I’m a believer in having fun, enjoying life, and creating new adventures in a lifelong way.

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Here’s some tools to help you put some fun back in your life, claim your power, and expand your toolbox:

Express Love – You can’t give what you don’t have.  To express love you first have to be in a state of love.  Love yourself and everything in your life.  Then get out there and share this love with everyone else you meet.  You’ll be amazed at the support you receive along the way.  Let it ooze out of you.

Read – Learn more about your areas of interest.  Expand your vocabulary.  Obtain a new point of view.  All of these will help you grow as a person.  You don’t have to read a book or article word for word – skim it to pick your points of interest.

Respect Yourself – Realize that you count.  Your opinions and ways of doing things are valid.  Draw your boundaries!  Don’t automatically say YES to every request made of you.  Take a moment to think about the request, see how it feels to you, and then respond.  Add a BIG dose of self-respect to your toolbox.

Do Something Unfamiliar – Explore more.  Make a commitment to do something different at least once/week.  This could be eating a different food, taking a new way to work, watching a movie you wouldn’t normally watch, talking to someone you wouldn’t normally talk to, etc.  You’ll soon discover that your fear was just imaginary and more habit than anything else.

Hang Out with Positive People – This ties in with Respecting Yourself.  Toxic people are not your friends and aren’t supportive of your growth.  Establish a core group of positive friends that will support you in your growth and adventure.  Not only will you have more fun, you’ll feel a whole lot better.

Do Unusual Things – This is a subset of doing unfamiliar things.  I’m not talking about doing anything scary or dangerous, just a little different.  Try eating with your other hand.  Or use your non-dominant hand to control your computer mouse for a day.  Read words backward.  The importance of doing this is to teach yourself how adaptable and resilient you really are.  This opens up new neural pathways, and stops your internal dialogue because you’re totally in the NOW and not putting a label on the experience.

Find Your Passion – What is it you love to do?  What charges your battery and leaves you feeling fulfilled and joyous?  Choose a job/career/vocation that allows you to do this.  Maintain your focus on this and trust in the Universe to line you up with the necessary events/clients to support your endeavor.  When in doubt, just take the next step.

Stand Tall – Become a self-advocate.  By taking care of yourself first, you can then help others.  Make sure your wellbeing is a priority – don’t ever diminish yourself.  Speak your truth and know your ideas and opinions matter.  No one else on the planet has the same viewpoint, gifts, talents, love, and experiences that you do.  People that try to put you down are lashing out at you because of their own wounds.  You don’t have to take it.  You are your own magnificent person.

Sleep Well – Give yourself time to recharge.  Go to bed with a clean slate.  Give thanks for the day, what you accomplished, and the good people and events you had the privilege to be a part of.  Sleep is important to maintain your health, mental acuity, and connection with Spirit.

Have Fun – We’re in a playground – remember?  Enjoy what you’re doing – feel light-hearted and smile a lot.  Spread the love.  With a little practice you can look around you and see joy and goodness everywhere.  If you’re getting bored with the game you’ve created, take a breather.  Or create a new game.

It’s all up to you.

 

Glenn Bott

www.warriorswayllc.com

glenn@warriorswayllc.com

Growing Pains: Living Outside of My Walls – Lydia Taft

I was sitting in the doctor’s office for a check-up last week.  I always dread those appointments.  I hear my mind chatter telling me what a bad patient I am and how I am completely non-compliant.  I realize quickly that I have to challenge that statement.  That’s not entirely true I tell myself, but there is an aspect of that assertion that I buy into.  I search out my feelings and I realize that I am filled with a sense of wrongness. 

It’s a very old story that I used to tell about how bad and wrong I was.

And although I don’t often run into that belief, I do find that I continue to hold judgments about what my illness means about who I am, and how I am able to live and function in life.  I am aware enough to understand that my judgments of self are limiting and yet I hold onto the definition in my own head of self as “bad” because I have an illness.  So I enter my doctor appointments feeling that I am wrong and bad.  Considering this game I play with myself, it comes as no surprise that I dread all of my appointments.

As I consider my mind game more closely, I notice that there is a theme going on this month.  I’ve been exploring definitions.  By define I mean, I have been focusing on how I have set the boundaries and limits of myself.  I find humor in the fact that I often bump into my own walls and then wonder why I am not getting to any different place.  It’s like running on a hamster wheel.  I use up a lot of energy and never find myself outside of the walls of my cage.

I spent some time this weekend considering what those walls feel like.  I closed my eyes and imagined that feeling of being contained.  I meditated a bit and visualized the walls falling off and away from me.  With each deep breath I exhaled, more of the boundaries fell away. 

All the layers of my opinions and judgments just glided off my body and I expanded into the infinite. 

This lightness of being led me to a very joyful and clear state of mind, and prepared me to open myself to life’s natural unfolding. 

It is in a realized moment such as this that I feel my soul soar freely, joyfully, and swiftly. My heart swells and opens and I am lifted beyond any definition of who I think I am.  I am moved beyond any sense of limitation.  In those moments that I allow source to flow through, I realize my truth and experience, even if only for a moment, living outside of my walls. 

 

 

 

Drawing Strength from the Goddess Archetype: Part 1 of 2 – Monica Myers

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International Women’s Day, which has been celebrated around the world since the early 1900s, was this past Sunday. In honor of the occasion, I dedicate this reflection to the Goddess archetype and/or the divine feminine, which has provided hope, strength, identity, and inspiration to me personally on my journey.

Many would agree with me in arguing that our patriarchal culture in the west has relegated conscious femininity to a subservient position at best, and further limits it to the realm of women.

But, the divine feminine resides in all of us. To deny her is analogous to cutting off a limb.

Let me explain.

It is a myth that only females suffer under a patriarchy.  Suffering happens at a cultural level as well as an individual level for both women and men.  Our western culture’s over-identification with the masculine has led to a neurotic drive for power.  We see obvious manifestations of this today in civil and international wars and we also see it in a culture that emphasizes competition and materialism over family nurturing and community connection.  We see it in our dominance over other life forms and in the systematic destruction of the environment that sustains us.

Loss of community is pervasive today.  Marion Woodman, a Jungian analyst, relates the feminine to a loss of soul and consequently to a diminishing capacity for connection. According to Woodman, individuals who lack a concept and understanding of conscious femininity are “cut off from their connection to their own soul values…where the heart is no longer recognized.” 

Without a connection to soul, we can’t have meaningful connection to one another or compassion for the human condition and this “reverberates right through our culture.” 

Now, if I’ve thoroughly depressed you in considering this historical moment, you are not alone. I have depressed myself. I have struggled with the question: how do we deflect the nightmare of self-destruction and find hope today when the larger state of affairs often feels overwhelming and hopeless? For me, this is precisely where the image of the Goddess enters and works her healing magic. She helps me to dream life forward with love.

It’s no secret that images have enormous and often unconscious influence on us, as evidenced by the mass of visual media and advertising in our culture. Marion Woodman reminds us, “Through a physical image, metaphor reveals a spiritual truth or condition…” In this sense, the image of the Great Goddess has enormous power to heal and free our psyches.

Above all, the Goddess symbol embodies the remembrance and possibility of a beneficent universe and a reawakening of our hearts.  She helps me to imagine a universe full of abundance, the possibility of living in harmony with one another as brothers and sisters and in an intimate relationship with our life-sustaining planet. She has given me a dream, grounded in my long ago ancestors, of the opportunity to realize a deep communication with all of creation.

As Michael Meade states, “The real problem is a loss of faith in the dream of life and the immediacy of the spirit that animates the world.”

 

Stay tuned for part two of this blog, in which the specific qualities of the Goddess archetype are explored in greater detail.

 

Monica Myers, MPH, MA, LPCC is a teacher and therapist currently accepting new clients. She has offices in Boulder, Denver, and Golden. She invites your comments, questions, and responses at monimyers69@gmail.com or 720-378-6603.

Warrior’s Way LLC: Resistance is Futile – Glenn Bott

Remember these famous words from Star Trek the Next Generation?  This was the opening line from the focused and persistent Borg.  This same line applies to us in everyday life.

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I submit that our natural state is one of joy, connectedness, love, and appreciation.  All the good stuff.  If we aren’t experiencing this then we have no one to blame but ourselves.  Many of us in the Western World were taught from a young age that if we want to make something of ourselves then we need to get out there and work hard.  Fight for it if necessary.

I have personally found this to be an outdated and very limited belief.  The Universe has our back.  Spirit is within us.  The Universe is lining up the coincidences, phone calls, and meetings to bring forth all the good you want.  If it’s slow in coming, your resistance is the culprit.

A major sign that you’re resisting what life has to offer is that you stop flowing and life becomes very difficult, stressful, and burdensome.  Not to mention you don’t feel happy.  When it gets to this point, it means you missed some of the messages along the way.  This is a sign to pay attention to the signs/messages the Universe is sending you.  Start to listen, be aware, ask for help.  Give intention for your life to be easy and effortless.

When you’re in the awareness mode, it’s much easier to pay attention and respond to these supportive messages when they’re presented.  Like our good friend Dorothy suggests – “follow the yellow brick road”.  It’s your choice – make it easy and fun, or make it slow and difficult.  We typically respond between these two extremes depending on the situation and our awareness.

After a dose of self-reflection, many come to the conclusion that their earlier upbringing/programming is the reason for their self-inflicted pain.  This is what they were taught.  It’s “the way it is”.  Whenever you hear these words from someone it’s a sure sign they haven’t spent the necessary time to analyze why their life isn’t working.  They blame it all on random events and their bad luck.

I don’t accept this premise – the Universe it too loving and orderly to believe in random events.  If you believe this way, it reduces you to a powerless being whose life and events are based on luck and good fortune.  This is the lazy and powerless way to think and live.  The victim attitude has never gotten anyone anywhere – except poor, sick, sad, and blameful.

Enough!

There’s no time to wallow in self-pity and feelings of inadequacy.  There’s an entire universe to explore, untold discoveries to find, and adventures of a lifetime.

Get to it!!

Toilet Training for my Inner Child: DISCONNECT – Clyde Davis

What is there about sitting down in front of the keyboard and realizing the energy to communicate has suddenly, inexplicably, just drained away? It’s not that I believe I have nothing to say or that anything I say is without value – quite the opposite! I know I have much to speak to and many experiences that have value. I truly believe my perspective on things can be novel, challenging and insightful. It just seems that all those wonderful notions and powerful insights all lose their impact when I’m not engaged in a conversation, or listening to someone else expound on their views, or being asked what I think.

Do I need the stimulation of others to feel productive? Creative? Communicative? Many times the answer is yes, I do. There is nothing quite like the random association of group sharing or rapid changes of topic to get my juices flowing. And yet, at other times, all by myself I am just brimming over with such urgency that I am astounded when I sit down to write and nothing occurs. So what actually happens when the opportunity to write presents itself and I come up wanting?

Part of the difficulty I find in writing comes from the simple fact that my mind works way faster than my hands. Sometimes even faster than my mouth, but those of you who know me would affirm how rare that is… I do find it frustrating to not be able to record the words as quickly as they form. Or reproduce them as clearly as they first form.

Another factor is my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I am overly concerned about tiny details of my writing that others hardly think about. I cannot consciously misspell a word as I type, or repeat a word too soon, or misuse a mark of punctuation, or use an imprecise word to express what I am feeling. In fact, I must decide on the font, the font size, the text alignment, the page layout, and a host of other niggling details before I can relax into the typing at all. Hmm. Small wonder I can get any words out at all!

I do, however, feel it necessary to state how important it is to pat myself on the back for actually writing at all – even if much less in extent than my inner perfectionist would like. I know how critical it is to do what is hard to do in order to overcome the inertia of old patterns of behavior. Just writing this short piece is having a positive effect on my reluctance to sit down and write. Something. Anything. At any time. It all adds up to ultimately overcome the inertia of remaining the same – doing the same thing – repeating the same uncomfortable habits over and over, while expecting different results.

I’m sure there is a lot more to my feeling stuck and unproductive than the few things I shared just now. But it’s a start. More later…

Clyde

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth