Stomach distress?

I’m noticing that many people right now are experiencing stomach distress.  They believe they have the flu or some virus.  I believe that their distress is unprocessed emotions related to the current political climate in the United States, which isn’t very “united” right now.

Many people were very surprised by the results of the election, and held out hopes that something unusual would happen to change it.  They waited until after the Electoral College voted to admit that their fears had been realized.  Now they are protesting everything that they are learning about.  People who were politically inactive before are now glued to whatever news they can get.

What you focus on expands.  What you think about, you are. If all you focus on is bad, that is all you will see.  Anger and fear leads to more of the same.

Life is all about choice.  You have a choice as to what you read or do or think, but first you must become aware.  You must become mindful of what is going on at the deepest level.

The stomach processes some of our most basic emotions – fear, anger, grief.  We feel things “at a gut level”.  We are “gutted” when something terrible happens.  Our stomach not just processes food, but feelings.  Our entire body is a sensory organ, and each unique organ receives and processes external stimuli in unique ways.  We accept that we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, but few people are yet able to understand that we have many other senses that are registered throughout the amazing gift of our corporeal forms.

When we are unable or unwilling to accept the reality of the messages that our bodies are sending us, we start to think that the messages ARE us.  We are able to understand that what we see through our eyes is simply a vision.  It is an observed phenomenon.  If we see a bird in flight, it does not mean that we are a bird.  Likewise, it is important to separate the sensations we experience through our other body parts from our selves, our being.  We do not have to be angry when we feel anger.  It is just a feeling, a sensation.

The purpose of being awakened isn’t to feel joyful all the time.  The purpose is to feel – everything – in a mindful and detached way.  You are not the feeling – you are feeling the feeling, just like you are seeing the birds fly above you.

It helps to be rooted in a faith that there is a guiding force that is over all things.  Having faith that the political leaders are not the true leaders is healthy and healing.

You must take care of your body in order to take care of your spirit.  There is nothing new here – diet and exercise count now more than ever.  Make healthy food choices.  Stress eating, eating “comfort food”, will bring your body and spirit down. Get regular exercise.  Just going for a short walk every day is excellent.  More is better.  Don’t overdo it, though, because that becomes a distraction.  It is important to be present.

Learn to be OK with sitting still in silence.  The need to constantly be busy is an addictive behavior the same as smoking cigarettes or drinking. Substance abuse isn’t just about drugs, but anything and everything. Doing anything mindlessly can be harmful to your body and spirit.

Having to check social media, read a book, or do chores can all be distractions.  Balance is what is necessary here. It is good to read a book – but if you feel anxiety if you are without one, then it is time to sit with that feeling and listen to it.  It is a sign that you feel a need to escape.  Use your feelings, regardless of what they are, to learn.  Do not run from “bad” feelings – they are trying to teach you that something is out of balance in your life.

Instead of protesting – of saying what you are against, spend your energy on building up.  What are you for?  What will bring healing to your community?  Who is hurting? Who is marginalized?  Go help them.  Go be a force for good.  Do what you can with what you have.  Your little efforts count.  Join with others to do more.  Don’t wait for the government to help – those times are over.  Be the change you wish to see.  Teach an immigrant child how to read and write.  Learn a foreign language.  Build a home for a homeless person. Teach a class on money management. Learn nonviolent conflict resolution.

Focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t.  Spend more time on figuring out how you can do something instead of coming up with excuses for why you can’t.  Don’t blame others for your own choices.

Together we live or die.

We’re all in this life together.

I can heal myself. I can be awake and mindful. I can plant trees or buy land that has them on it already to preserve them – but it won’t matter much if others chop theirs down and build malls (our new temples to the god of consumerism) complete with parking lots dedicated to cars (mobile air destroyers). Each parking space is a gravesite, a memorial to a tree. A garish monument, an epitaph, a mockery of what was there before. The air will get more polluted, and without trees, there won’t be anything to clean it. The Earth will get warmer and warmer, and my efforts won’t matter. While I’ve done what I can to help, others have done more to destroy.

I can protect that stream of water on my hypothetical piece of land, keep it safe from pollution, taking debris out when I arrive there, not putting poisons in, but what about upstream? Their actions affect me. Then, what about the people who buy this land after I die? Who says that they will keep it pristine?

How to live in such a way that it inspires others to live – that is my goal.

Poem – to wander

To wander is to go forth,
eyes and heart open
into the unknown.
It doesn’t have to be in the wilderness.
It can be in the library.
It can be anywhere you have not explored.
To wander is to find yourself
in the middle of nowhere,
not lost
but awake and aware and curious.
To wander is to take the time
to appreciate the journey
instead of just the destination.
To wander is to venture forth
in body or mind
or both
with no goal other than to truly see
what you find
while out there.
There is danger in this
for you might get lost.
There is salvation in this
for you might find yourself.

Poem – It isn’t them

Don’t blame other people
for your problems.
Don’t expect other people
to rescue you
either.

They are not
the cause
or the cure.

Your choices
determine your reality.
Things happen
that are beyond your control
but your reaction
is within it.

What you do or don’t do
is your choice.
How you respond
in thought, word, and deed
is your choice.

Take ownership
of your life
and take
your own life
back.
It was yours
all along
after all.

Apologize! (?) – we are being distracted.

My two cents on the “Hamilton” hullabaloo. He should lead by example. How about he apologizes to the veterans with PTSD who he said were “weak”? Or perhaps the women he said were fat and ugly? Or those he sexually assaulted? Or the people who are disabled? Or basically everyone who isn’t a white male? He should apologize first, to show us how it is done. This is what leaders do.

But – here’s the important part. We are being distracted and divided again. He’s leading the dance. We are all puppets when we get distracted like we are on such little things. This is what he wants – to divide and distract us.  Don’t be fooled.

Stay focused. Be alert. Take care of yourself and those around you.  Take care of marginalized people in your community. If we each take the time to re-direct our energy, we’ll get through this. No longer can we count on the government to take care of us.  We’ve given away our power for too long anyway.  It is time for the American people to take care of each other.  We must.  We will be stronger for it.

The Horse, Hunter, and Stag

I was working on an art journal page recently and started digging through my paper collection.  I have some ephemera of my own, but I also have a stack that I’ve bought from a lady who meant to use the items for her own art. She soon realized that she had more ephemera than time for art. It turns out she has a great eye for things that spark creativity.  One of the pieces was a page from a book of fables – stories designed to teach us something.  I think this one is remarkably appropriate for what we are experiencing now.  The entire wording is contained between the lines below.  My comments will follow.

————–

A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter agreed, but said: “If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy.” The Horse agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him. Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said to the Hunter: “Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and back.”

“Not so fast, friend,” said the Hunter. “I have now got you under bit and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present.”

If you allow men to use you for your own purposes, they will use you for theirs.

—————

It is now time to be aware and awake to our divisiveness. Our lack of unity with each other and within ourselves allows us to be led astray by others.  It renders us passive and not active members of life, of community.

It is not time to worry or complain about those who seek to divide us – to put us into “us” and “them” categories, who want to bait us like fighting dogs.

To be against those who seek to use us for their own gain is to further be drawn into the spiral.  It is to become that which we are trying to be aware of.

 

The goal is to be aware of every time you are distracted.

Notice when you are being baited, being told that “they” – whoever “they” are – are the reason that you are down.

“They” aren’t the reason for why you feel the way you do.  “They” are the same as you.  They are struggling too.

It is easy for people to pick on those who are seen as weaker.  It is easy to scapegoat.  Don’t do it.  Rise above. Don’t be drawn into that game.  Turn it upside down.  Notice who you are being told to be afraid of, to hate and instead make friends with them.  Learn everything you can about them.  Join up with them for your common cause of working together.

Remember the old phrase – “United we stand, divided we fall.”

Remember the motto on the back of the US dollar bill – “E pluribus unum”.  It means “Out of many, one.”  It means we are stronger together.

It is time to stop being scattered and divided.  We allow others to use us when we are like that.

Careful in that car

There’s something about driving that makes you forget what you’re doing. It is easy to get lulled into a sense that driving is more like watching a movie or playing a video game than real.  Perhaps it is the climate control so you don’t have to experience the weather.  Perhaps it is the good suspension that smooths out every bump so you don’t experience the road.  It is easy to forget that the other cars on the road are real and filled with people. It is easy to forget that one wrong move and someone will die.

 

The most aggressive drivers on the road are those who drive large trucks, like Ford F-150s. They are so high above and removed from everyone else that they seem to forget that there is anyone else on the road. These vehicles are very sturdy and give a sense of protection to the driver, but result in a sense of threat to everyone else, because the driver often drives as if he is the only person on the road.

 

I think it’s a good idea to have a car that has lightweight doors that make you realize how fragile and how thin your protection is between you and other cars. I think it’s a good idea to have a car that doesn’t have quick acceleration so you don’t feel you can cut off other drivers. A slow car makes you wait for an opening rather than forcing one. I think it’s a good idea to think of your car as a two thousand pound weapon. This way you will be considerate on the road.

 

When you ride a motorcycle you are fully in the elements. You are made aware of every moment and everything has to be done very carefully and mindfully or you will get hurt. The same is true for bicyclists or walkers.  The less you have between you and others, the more careful you have to be, but also the more considerate.  Imagine how many fewer accidents there would be if everyone drove as if they had the same level of protection as a motorcyclist.

 

What if we all had one 800 numbers on the back of our cars saying “How am I driving?” How many of us would get complaints? What if police pulled people over for driving well? How many of us would get stopped then?

 

Here is a prayer to be said before starting your car:

Lord, help me to remember to be careful on this road. Help me to remember to look out for the safety of myself and for others. Help me to drive in a way that would bring honor to you.  Amen.