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Archive for February, 2011

Consider:

Scattered Hearts

Gathered Hearts

Cloud Shepherd

Picking up the Pieces

These are all titles of original instrumental guitar compositions by guitarist Patrick Smith. I met Patrick on Twitter. His music is that which comes from the heart and ears of one who is awake, paying attention, adventurous and curious.  The songs are reflective, evocative, sometimes “netherworldly.”

To me, they ask questions rather than make statements.

I’ve been looking for a way to share a song of his with you for months now, but neither my blog service nor my Mystery Message service could handle the file size. Today, a You Tube video of images accompanied by one of Patrick’s pieces was uploaded and so now, I can share his music with you by way of You Tube.

Patrick is a generous spirit who also writes about his practice and composition process, Alexander Technique and musings that weave spirit with music in his blog: A Journeyman’s Way Home.

You can sample more of his music on his website. If you like Patrick’s music, please support him by paying the small fee to download it for your mp3 player.

Here is: Cloud Shepherd. Thank you Patrick!

And thank you T J Matthews for your beautiful images! (T J is a neighbor of Patrick’s with no site to which I might link you)

copyright (c) February 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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I have a frozen shoulder, otherwise known as adhesive capsulitis. This means, I can’t raise the arm attached to that shoulder much higher than the shoulder itself. It makes things like sweeping, washing my hair, putting on pullover tops and the like challenging or nearly impossible without pain. I’m to avoid pain. Nice directive and one for which I need little reminding.

[Let me take a moment to announce to everyone, especially the mid-life women out there, if you feel pain in your shoulder and it doesn’t go away for weeks on end, get it checked out. It is easier to take care of early in the game. Once it adheres, the recovery can be a long one. Natural recovery (without intervention) can take 2 to 4 years. Much of what I’ve read says it is likely hormone related. I would have liked to have known about all of this prior to the adhesion, so consider this my public service warning to all you ladies out there.]

As for me, I felt it last fall, before I went to Hawaii, but I figured it was just another of those aches that goes away if you just give it a little time. While I was in Hawaii, it loosened up as I swam in the warm waters of Lanai. But then, I suspect everything feels better in Hawaii.

There are details of the journey, whom I saw and what they recommended, but where this post really begins is the night after I got a cortisone shot in my shoulder.  Agony was my teacher.

The pain was the worst I’d felt since I broke my foot.  I experienced wave after wave of pain and no position made it better.  There was no break, no breather from the misery.  I walked around my house saying “and this is supposed to make me feel better? Are you kidding me? WTF!”  I began to wonder how people with chronic pain manage and my compassion for those people went up exponentially.

When I went to bed,  I put on the Reiki Whale music I listen to every night and tried finding the least painful position to lay in. At first, I resisted, as in, I tried to go to sleep despite the pain, trying to ignore the pain and listen to the music. That didn’t work.

Finally, I decided to work with it rather than against it. I repeatedly said “You are a part of me. You are a part of my wholeness.” Then I went deeper into the pain with curiosity; wanting to know more about this part of me. I found myself being with its rhythm, riding its wave. Somewhere in that ride, I drifted off. When I awoke, the pain was gone.

That morning, with my focus no longer captive to waves of pain in my arm, I noticed that my big toe joint hurt, my left shoulder was also unhappy and there was a kind of kink in my groin. These typical morning aches and pains felt heavenly in comparison to the previous night’s waves.

I took the contemplation of wholeness to my morning meditation. What was the pain teaching me?  I thought of all the ways I have separated from myself in resistance to pain; physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain, mental pain. Whenever I resist, I am saying, you are not me, you are the enemy.

Then I became aware of all the ways I’ve separated from myself by berating myself. Every time I have found myself wrong, imperfect, flawed in some way, I’ve disowned a piece of me and created separation.  I became aware of the ways I’ve colluded with others who have foisted their own pain on me in the form of disrespect and abuse.

When I am not experiencing myself as whole, I feel broken and feeling broken I chase after whatever I think will fix me. Thus, I’ve set up a cycle of separation and pain.

In my meditation I welcomed it all back, all of it and all of me. I sent messages and vibrations of love to all of me, the whole me with everything included.

Now, the me who is already (and always was) beautiful has an opportunity to catch up to the me that has been chasing after perfection.

Beauty is not perfection.

I said to myself: This is where I not only “see what is,” I accept. I surrender. I stop chasing. Now I can begin again from Love.

As I sat with those thoughts, I noticed little complaints from various parts of my body as if to ask “me too?” “Yes, knee, you too.” And as quickly as it came, the throbbing in the knee vanished.

The prior night’s pain brought me into my body and would not let me escape. Being in my body had me be aware of what it needs. It forces me to listen and that’s all the body wants, for me to be present and listen.

I became aware that if I am self-loathing in any dark little corner of myself, I hold myself separate from me, from others, from life, from God / Goddess / All that is.  This loving wholeness, embracing it all, is the antidote to self-loathing. Rather than focusing on how I am not perfect and all the things that need fixing, which has me not like myself until those things are fixed, I am turning my attention to being whole. I’m loving the whole me inclusively and my body, mind, spirit and heart can all feel safe and loved, rather than marginalized and disowned.

If I want to be heard and seen, best to begin by seeing and hearing myself.

And so, I am re-membering the disowned parts and I am remembering who I really am.

And you, dear reader, what pains you and how is it related to separation?

copyright (c) February 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.
– Ruth Ann Schabacker

There are always plenty of reasons not to write. I have had lots lately. At least, I’ve had plenty of reasons not to post to the blog, though I remain faithful to my morning pages, which I’ve done for nearly 20 years. (Don’t even try to fathom the number of journals that has filled.)

The surface reasons are things like: not feeling well, lacking the inspiration, too many insights coming through so fast that picking one to write about is difficult, beautiful weather beckoning me outdoors, drawers and cabinets to clean out and organize, get-togethers with friends, client calls, brainstorming and mind-mapping my new offerings and directions, physical therapy sessions (for a frozen shoulder)  interrupting my creative time.

Subterranean reasons are, well they are subterranean, so I am not all that aware of them. My guess about the subterranean reason is that I’m in a period of rapid change and what used to satisfy me as a post, is shifting.

What is it I want to say now? What wants to be shared from this place, this raw, smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-it terrain?

I guess we’ll find out over the next few months.  Meanwhile, I know some people have been waiting for my next post, because they’ve written to me or told me face to face that they are wondering why I’ve not posted lately. Thank you faithful readers! I count you among my blessings.

Speaking of which, I want to share with you one of the practices that spontaneously burst out of me one morning during a few days of peak discomfort. It brought me relief and heartened me.

I was making breakfast and was so tired of feeling crumby, that I made the decision to shift my attention to what is working in my experience from a whole body, mind, spirit, heart perspective as well as from each aspect. I found the first and began saying out loud:

Thank you for the blessing of: (fill in the blank with a blessing of  simple things like):

Thank you for the blessing of another day.

Thank you for the blessing of full breaths.

Thank you for the blessing of the smell of coffee.

Thank you for the blessing of the pink clouds at sunrise.

 

Sunrise Pink Skies copyright(c) JAN 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

Thank you for the blessing of a wonderful new client.

Thank you for the blessing of friends and family who care.

Thank you for the blessing of a heater that works and warms my house.

(Pretty soon I was dancing around the tile kitchen floor in my socks, whirling like a 7 year old ballerina)

Thank you for the blessing of these feet and legs that walk and dance.

The inner wretched one (aka party-pooper) wants to say things like “yeah, but…” and “what if …?” Thankfully, it gets drowned out pretty quickly as I persist in finding the blessings and the heart begins to radiate and fill my mind, body and spirit with brilliant light and happiness. (Hint: It helps to begin with a smile, even if it is simply a physical turning upward of the lips.)

It’s all really simple isn’t it? Simple and complex; like breathing.

We are living through some tough times. A courageous heart is one filled with radiant love and light. We can’t go to the well often enough to drink of beauty and raise our vibration.

As with any ritual, it is easier to remember to actually do it if we practice regularly. So, I’ve begun what I call the Ten Blessings Breakfast. However, lately it’s become, Ten Blessings Wakeup, since I have fallen into an awareness that has me look for the blessings immediately upon awakening.

I also have added it to my evening ritual – Ten Blessings Bedtime.

I’ve had occasion to play with it as Ten Blessings Bruhaha. This one I use whenever something comes up that throws me into anxiety or fear; generally conflict in my body, my life or in the world. Recognizing and saying ten blessings in such moments soothes me and brings me present. Most of what I fear is a projection of what might happen (and likely won’t). Most of what causes me grief is past. When I look at this very now moment, I see that right here, right now, there is much to enjoy, embrace and savor.

Why ten? Intuitively, it struck me as a good number. It was something I had to reach for so I would not just stop at a few. In certain studies it is also the number where completion and beginning meet: 1 and 0.

The ten blessings practice opened the way for some amazing insights regarding pain, fear, wholeness and separateness and I plan to share these with you in coming posts.

For now, I’m headed out for an unlimited blessings walk.

Copyright© February 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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