Cedar Ring Mama

Taking My Cues From Mother Earth


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Harmonia

Welcome, old friends and new who may be visiting from the Waldorf Connection Global Expo!  As promised, here is the story, “Harmonia“, which goes along with the “Dynamic Mothering with the Four Humours” talk airing on Saturday, May 16, 2015.

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“Harmonia.”

I had been searching the universe, an endless spirit in an endless realm, not knowing what I was looking for.  But I would know it when I found it.  For a while now, I had been catching faint vibrations of an impulse, a calling.  I couldn’t hear it very clearly until this moment.

“Harmonia.”

I listened, and heard the call for someone to bring a very special gift to mankind- a seed that would grow and blossom and produce a fruit that would nourish a part of humanity that was greatly diminished.  I felt the tingle of my inner knowing- I would be this person.

And so, the day came when I crossed the threshold and the whirring, spinning energetic gift I clutched tightly, crossed with me.  When I opened my clenched hand on the other side, now clothed in skin, I held only a tiny, inconspicuous seed.

I looked around me, and saw that I was surrounded by four very different landscapes.  To the north stretched a vast sea, dotted with distant islands. To the south, the sun beat down on what would have been a mostly dry, parched land if not for the exceptionally engineered irrigation systems that fed crop lands and a network of oasis-like cities sprouting up along a wide, winding river.  To the east, all that could be seen was a vast plain where tall grasses continually rippled in the wind with movement like waves. In the west rose hills and mountains with great, cavernous stone mouths.

I planted the seed. I watered it. I waited. But day after day, week after week, nothing happened.  I became discouraged.  Could I have been wrong about accepting this mission?  Would some other spirit have been more capable, more ‘chosen’?

And then, from the windy plains, came the tinkling of a gentle, joyful, breathless laugh.  A child- now running, now skipping, now stopping to smell the the wildflowers, now  stumbling and being whisked up, it seemed, by the breeze itself- arrived like the wind, in bursts and gusts. When she reached me, she smiled and threw her arms around my waist, hugging me. She was neither tall nor short, small or big- and her eyes were what stood out most, they were lively and sparkling. She pressed a light-as-air package wrapped in yellow silk into my hands.

“My people are an energetic, creative, and accepting society who deeply value communication, arts, and entertainment.  We are quick to forgive and have already forgotten what gave rise to the rifts between our neighbors and ourselves, and condemned our people- once sought after merchants and tradespeople- to be unwelcome outside our own borders.  I dreamed you came to help us create peace amongst ourselves, and I have come to help you. Please accept my gift.”

The girl pressed the package into my hands, then ran back along the path from which she came, until finally tall, rippling grasses swallowed her back up.  I removed the cloth and opened the box, and out fluttered a bright yellow butterfly. The butterfly circled around me gently for a few minutes, then it hovered above the ground where I had planted the seed what seemed like ages ago. As the butterfly’s wings flapped and flapped, the air all around warmed and rushed to encircle me.  The discouragement I had felt faded, and I was filled with hope and renewed conviction that I was indeed on the correct path.  I felt very, very alive, and then I felt very, very tired.  When I awoke, the seed’s hard outer coating had softened and allowed a shoot to poke up from the ground.  I cried with joy and relief and told every creature who came near, what happened and showed them the beautiful sprout.

At first I was so attentive- I barely left except to get water for the seedling. But soon the beauty of the world around me and all the other warming, shooting up plants- for my seedling was not the only one to have woken up- distracted me and I returned to my sprout one day to find it drooping and choked with weeds. How could I have been so forgetful and failed to take better care of it?  I began to cry, and my tears watered the soil and the little plant was no longer withered.  I practiced being a faithful caretaker, but my plant’s growth had begun to slow and I wondered if perhaps in my zeal to correct my mistakes, I had overwatered it.  Once again, discouragement seeped in.

It was then that a young man came forward from the southern lands.  His body was short and compact, as if he had been formed to precise specifications to meet maximum efficiency, limbs placed exactly where they could, in as short a time as possible, receive the maximum amount of circulation possible. He strode purposefully towards me and extended his hand to offer a firm handshake.

“My society has heard the stories of your coming.  We are a strong, determined, and productive nation who work hard to make the south lands thrive and squeeze every bit of crop capacity from lands that were once almost desert.  We are skilled hunters and we have a strong military full of trained warriors.  My leader has begun to talk of conquering other lands. I am not afraid of war, but my grandfather tells me of a time in our history when all four nations worked together and trade flourished, and we were even stronger then, than we are now.  I dreamed you came to help us create peace amongst ourselves, and I have come to help you. Please accept my gift.”

The man handed me a tightly wrapped, warm-to-the-touch package wrapped in leather with red and black markings on it. As quickly and purposefully as he had come, he left.

I opened the gift, and inside the leather was a metal box which held a single, smoldering coal.  The yellow butterfly returned and began to flutter her wings gently, fanning the coal until it burst into flame. As the flame grew, the hot summer sun lifted high in the sky and heated the soil around the young plant. The plant responded to the heat almost immediately, and began to grow taller and taller at a remarkable rate, basking in the heat and stretching towards the sun, the first evidence of fruits emerging from pollinated blossoms.  I worked steadfastly to keep the flame burning steadily, and as I thought of the south lands from where the flame originated, I decided that I, too would engineer an irrigation channel from the nearby watering pool.

Perhaps I was over-zealous, because soon the flame was burning unbearably hot. My plant leaf tips began to show scorching, and the irrigation channel had diverted so much water that there was not enough left for the animals who frequented the pool. I felt angry that things were not going smoothly, even though I knew it was my own fault for being a little too ambitious. And that is when the woman from the west came.

She was older than the young man from the south, with a hint of gray touching her dark hair. She was very tall like the mountains she hailed from that reached for the heavens, but her shoulders pulled downwards as if she was used to bearing heavy loads. Her footsteps were heavy, but she picked her way through the rocks with conscious expertise.

“My clan have made the hills and mountains our home.  We are a very proficient, structured society with a strong sense of justice.  Our religious leaders, scientists, doctors, and musicians used to be highly regarded in all the lands, and we were known for our charitable aid and humanitarian efforts to anyone in need.  In recent times, however, we have been weighed down by the many rules of our leading council, which dictate how even the smallest of actions must be performed and do not allow for change, keeping our progress stagnant.  We need renewal, and we need to return to helping others instead of being enclosed within our own boundaries. I dreamed you came to help us create peace amongst ourselves, and I have come to help you. Please accept my gift.”

She handed me a package wrapped in green linen which was surprisingly heavy for its small size. I thanked her, and she returned the way she had come.

I opened the cloth and found a beautiful, clear crystal.  Again the butterfly came and flapped its wings gently, and the crystal began to pulse with light.  As it pulsed, it seemed to drink up the flame’s out of control energy until the heat lessened and reduced it to a comfortable glow.  I felt calm, rational, and filled with understanding.  I began to work to restore the habitat I had disrupted earlier, and when order had been restored I worked to create a beautiful garden around the plant, with walkways and paths lined with shrubbery, a gazebo to shelter people and a small chapel- never forgetting to tend to my plant. But as I delved deeply into my new work, little things that never would have bothered me before became intensely upsetting. The crystal cooled and became dark, and I became critical of myself and everything around me.  My plant was now weighed down with heavy, beautiful fruit, but instead of delighting in it, all I could do was worry about if the stalks would hold up or someone would try to steal the fruit before it was ripe to perfection.

Now, from the shore of the northern island-speckled sea came an old man, slowly. For a while, he was silent and I wondered if he was going to speak at all.  When he did, it was as if his mouth had rusted with disuse and he had to put forth great effort into prying his jaw open to form his thoughts into audible words.

“My people once came and went with the flow of the ocean, but for many years now we have kept to ourselves and avoided the others.  The stories that were passed down say that conflicts developed between the four lands, and our leader refused be involved decided it would be best to isolate our nation from strife and any potential war.  We are a peace-loving, stable society with rich traditions that we love and follow religiously. Our ranks are filled with farmers, fishermen, skilled craftsmen, and patient teachers.  But without the possibility of trade or interaction with the other lands, we have become unmotivated and unproductive.  It does not feel right to me, and I worry about the future of my grandchildren.  I dreamed you came to help us create peace amongst ourselves, and I have come to help you. Please accept my gift.” He handed me a bundle wrapped in blue wool cloth and, contented to have accomplished his mission, he turned away and shuffled back to the sea as I called out my thanks.

I opened the gift and it contained a vial of liquid, clear as the crystal.  I felt as if I could hear the old man whispering, urging me to pour the water on the crystal.  I opened the vial, poured the water on the crystal, and it transformed from cloudy and dark to clear and bright again.  The butterfly flapped her wings, and the flame grew brighter and evaporated the water into a mist that filled the garden.  The cool mist became cooler and cooler.  Every day, the garden was cooler than it had been before and soon the fruit was perfectly ripe and ready to be picked.

I worked hard to harvest every last bit, and when I had finished, I rested and felt at total peace. The girl of the plains came back, driven by intense curiosity to see how the plant had turned out.  She was delighted when I shared the ripe fruit with her, and I asked her to send messengers to each of the nations to summon them, which she gladly agreed to.  Soon representatives from each land came to me to receive a portion of the delicious fruit.  As they ate and marvelled at the delicious fruit, they began to talk amongst themselves and forge new bonds.

That was the beginning of a new time for humanity. The garden was named after me- Harmonia- and became a center for diplomacy amongst the four nations.  The roots of my plant reached deep and far and extended to the borders of each nation. Harmonia is that place in the center where all people come together to be whole, and where every good fruit is cultivated, shared, and enjoyed.


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Courage For the Task- Mimulus

The flower essences, herbal decoctions or infusions prepared from the flowering parts of a plant and used to facilitate emotional wellness (and impact mental outlook), were pioneered by Dr. Edward Bach to be pro-active responses to the body’s quest for balance (health).  Dr. Bach believed that the roots of disease can begin within the mental/emotional realm and, over time, when a pattern of disharmony develops and becomes pathological, it can amplify and begin to manifest in the realm of the physical body.  This pattern of disharmony, he postulated, originates when a person’s inner and outer worlds- the “I’ one experiences, versus the persona one creates for family, friends, and the outer world- fall out of sync.  I understand this to mean that when I am not true to myself- when my actions contradict what I actually believe, aspire to, and love- a disconnect occurs and I start to lose internal harmony and energy. Eventually this carries over into my physical well being. Bach’s study of flowers was aimed at being able to prevent disease in the body, or- in flower terms- “nip it in the bud”. In comtemplating Dr. Bach’s work, and how others have carried it on, I am fascinated and compelled to learn more.

Mimulus

A friend recently recommended the flower essence mimulus to me, and I have to share what a powerful little punch this flower essence packs!  A superficial study of mimulus yields, likewise, superficial results- it is, according to the “sound byte” summary on Bach’s Flower Essence chart, “Fear of worldly things, illness, pain, accidents, poverty, of dark, of being alone, of misfortune. The fears of everyday life. These people quietly and secretly bear their dread; they do not freely speak of it to others.”

In trying to define this plant’s powers in terms of treating a stereotypical ‘mimulus’ personality, though, I think many who would benefit from mimulus are thrown off the trail of discovery of this little gem.  I am persuaded that many of us, at certain junctures of our lives, can also benefit greatly from mimulus.  The first fascinating fact about mimulus is that, from what I can tell in researching Dr. Bach and flower essences, it was one of the first flowers Dr. Edward Bach studied.  It was the flower that aided his undertaking, his “bridge to destiny”.  Dr. Bach was coming from a traditional medical establishment, and was an expert on vaccination.  He began to have misgivings and see flaws in the medical establishment he was a member of, and left his respected position to accept a post at a Homeopathic Hospital. It is not hard to imagine him being worried and full of misgivings over such a dramatic turning of the table.  How would he be received in trying to create a new health discipline based on “energetic” flower water?! And yet, he began and his ideas became a worldwide phenomenon. He lived a dedicated, fulfilled life and was truly passionate about his work, feeling he had indeed hit upon his destiny and made the most of it. I hope I will be able to say that at the end of my sojourn on this earth!

There are many varieties of the mimulus, or “monkeyflower”, genus, and mimulus guttatus- the type of mimulus Bach worked with- addresses fears associated with the solar plexus- “gut-level” fears that pertain to everyday life (not emergency or crisis-inspired fears). If you are familiar with the law of signatures- one of the ancient methods herbalists used to consider plants and their purpose or therapeutic value based on physical characteristics (such as habitat, color, shape, etc.)- mimulus guttatus is a bright, lively, yellow.  Yellow relates it to the solar plexus chakra- an action chakra, the “seat of the will”; and to the idea of a sunny, cheerful outlook in contrast to the cloudy fears it dismisses. It is like bringing a handful of sunbeams within. If your fears have darkened your inner light and caused you to lose touch with your true self, the light of mimulus may help you find and retrieve what has been temporarily lost. The very word mimulus comes from the latin root word for “mime”.  Mimes wear a painted mask and cannot give audible voice to their story, instead they must convey it with great dramatization. Mimulus invites you to take off the mask and give voice to your drama.  Dr. Bach was very specific that mimulus helps with fears that one holds in and does not wish to, or feel ready to talk about.  But being able to identify and articulate our fears is often what helps us process and deal with them.

Mimulus also prefers to grow near water, especially clean, well-oxygenated moving water.  Its’ flower heads nod vigorously in the wind. This suggests it has a proclivity for forward movement, and I believe, positive acceptance of circumstances.

When my dear friend recommended mimulus to me, she spoke of destiny and “a shift”.  She had been warned, when she first accepted a recommendation for mimulus, that it was powerful stuff. I definitely felt a shift in my life very shortly after taking it, and it did give me courage for the tasks that seemed fearful in my life. I also felt like it set me in forward movement, whereas I had been stuck in a “spiritual park n’ ride”. A path unfolded before me.  I actually dreamt a very specific dream about a bridge, and being prepared to cross it. Dr. Bach once said “We have much to do, but we must not be afraid of the task.” I think this sums up mimulus aptly. If known fears, anxieties, and dread are keeping you stuck, preventing you from reaching your potential, weighing you down- perhaps mimulus can help you shift forward and give you courage for your task.

Courage does not mean our fears disappear.  It means we are able to recognize our fear in a more objective way so that we can act as we will to, in spite of the fear.  If we give our power to fear, it will take mastery of us.  When we hold our power, when we embody our will, we can look past fear and remember it is just one emotional perspective with which to view our circumstances. Sometimes, our fears serve as valid signals that guide us away from danger or from taking “wrong turns” in life. Sometimes, because of past negative or traumatic experiences, ignorance, or a plethora of other invalid associations and ideas, fear manifests in less productive ways. It is part of our soul’s developmental process to deal with such fears and act with courage. Our task is to decide whether our fears are hindering or protecting us, and deal with them in accordance.

Mimulus, as mentioned earlier, has any different varieties and comes in a rainbow of colors.  Work has been done to understand how these different varieties manifest as plant healers, and several have been identified that address fears related to their specific color chakra.  For instance, scarlet monkeyflower is associated with fears related to sense of personal power (first chakra), and the orange sticky monkeyflower is related to fears associated with intimacy/sexuality (second chakra)- more about that here. I look forward to trying those as well!

 


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Turning Work Into Play: “We Need To Tidy Our House Because…”

The house has been a bit of a disaster lately.  With a walking toddler on the loose, everything seems to land on the floor.  Trails of destruction follow in his cute little wake.  I don’t know how many times I’ve rescued older siblings’ pajamas from the toilet bowl this month, but I think I may just limit our potty breaks to the upstairs bathroom and use our downstairs latrine as a sensory table.

The older kids have begun to forget to put their own things away as they have adjusted to life with Little Mr. Messy and his constant mayhem.  It’s time to inspire them a little, and if *you* happen to have a nine year old boy you may know that those sweet little Waldorf tidying up songs that charmed your children in their early years no longer seem to spark that inner neat freak. So I’ve come up with the “We Need To Tidy Our House Because…” jar.  Every time I feel a tidying session is needed, to the jar goes a lucky child and decides our fate… which scenario will we face for the next 30 minutes of our lives?

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  • The ruler of our kingdom has declared from hence day forth, every messy home shall be the royal habitat for thousands of our knights whom the wizard of our warring enemy kingdom has enchanted into angry skunks with diarrhea.
  • An angry obsessive compulsive gnome will cause mushrooms to sprout from the ears and spinach to sprout from the hair follicles of every child who does not keep their home tidy.  He will then harvest said mushrooms and spinach and feed it to the children every night for dinner.
  • Our home has been transformed into an ogre’s den and if we do not clean it before they return, the spell will remain and we will be ogre stew.
  • An evil fairy has cast a spell that turns every item in our house that is not in its proper place to slimy toads.
  • A mad scientist has devised a machine that will transport every messy home to a parallel universe where giant worms rule over humans and force them to eat chocolate fruity pasta three times a day (my eldest hates chocolate, my middle child detests fruit, and my four year old is a sworn member of the Pasta Haters 4Ever Club!).
  • The president is coming to visit and will offer our family a million dollar contract to teach genetically engineered monkey robots to clean the White House if we impress him with our spiffy janitorial abilities.
  • We are oppressed peasants from an impoverished medieval time who have traveled to the future and if we clean the house we have materialized in, we can keep it and stay forever.
  • An angry neat freak elf has enchanted our home and every speck of dust or dirt will transform to flesh eating fungus within an hour’s time.
  • Our family has received an offer from a mysterious philanthropist to donate $1000 to us for every room we clean in an hour.

How are you inspiring your kids to lend a helping hand these days? 🙂

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Saying “Thank You”

I’m back! Back in a place where I can write in this space, back in a place where I have something worth saying. Our family had a very, very difficult few months and I really let it get to me.  My attitude went down the tubes!

Life gets messy sometimes.  After moving twice in two months, and getting very sick in between moves, barely keeping the co-op from falling apart, and setting my hair on fire, mess would be the appropriate word. 🙂

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Don’t worry, it is better now.  Not perfect… but I’ll take “better” over “worse”!  And hair has a handy way of growing back. Gray. LOL.

It was at about that stage of the game- when our living space looked like this, and I had just scoured the bathroom only to have someone puke all over it, that I was at my lowest.  I was making scrambled eggs, and the bowl of eggs (the last of the eggs we had) was knocked over by a child by accident.  I totally lost my composure, raised my fist to the heavens, and looked up at God, saying “IF YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT HARD FOR ME, I’M JUST NOT EVEN GOING TO TRY!”

Then I paused and looked at myself without judgment.  Well, I tried to anyways… but I realized I was like a tragic comedy and started laughing, and laughing, and laughing.

And God answered back with an inner knowing, a flash of awareness of where I was at.  I was able to take inventory of my spiritual and emotional life. I realized that I somehow felt entitled to be spoiled by the universe.  I felt like things had been going so well for me, until some unknown entity stole the princess tiara right off my head. Bad things should not happen to good people, right?  Ah, but there is a catch.  I chose to view the things that happened to me as “bad”.  And because of that, I started a war against the bad things, and whatever people or circumstances I viewed as bad.  I was creating battles and setting myself up for the fray.  I was mad at God because I didn’t perceive He had joined my side- you know, the side that was against “bad things” happening to me.

It is easy- and yet, incredibly hard- to fix this spiritual state.  Rather than viewing the things that happened to me as bad, I just said two words.  “THANK YOU.”

I am not saying we need to lie about it, and act as though we are thrilled about those less-than-stellar happenings in our lives.

But, miracles happen when we make the shift from being closed off, set against, and disconnected- to open, soft-hearted, and connected to our Source, those around us, and our understanding of our needs and values.  When I approach things with an open heart, and set aside the judgment, the critical eye, the “what’s in this for me”, the sense of lack- when I choose to ask myself “Wow, this is an unexpected turn of events… where is the lesson?” When I choose to ask myself “How can I work with this?” When I wonder aloud “If I set aside my preconceived notions, my cultural conditioning, my self-serving desires, how can I view this in a different way?  How can I welcome this situation in my life, while still clinging to my value system, and still honoring my needs?”… I move from being against things, and being a problem finder- to being a curious, inventive, adventurous problem solver.  Sometimes my sense of things being a problem even “POOF”- disappears.

And really, we had much bigger problems than puke-covered bathrooms, spilled eggs, and bad hairdos.  Things too personal to share, too hurtful to dredge up, and privacy to protect.  But this brings me to another point…

Sometimes, when our problems are so freakin’ HUGE, we try to put ourselves into the “I AM AN EXCEPTION TO THE RULE” category.  You know, the place where we suddenly aren’t like the rest of those lucky people who don’t have problems as big as ours.  We’ve got problems, you see, that the nice people down the lane couldn’t fathom, and would never be strong enough to get through- we are lucky we made it to the pathetic state we ourselves our in, after all, looking like something the cat dragged in, but still breathing.

No one is an exception to the rule.  The work is the same, spiritual laws remain the same, and the bigger the problems, the greater the  work to be done- but the work is not different, and you are not somehow in a category-of-your-own-of-special-or-hard-to-understand-work-for-the-highly-distressed.  But lucky for you, you’ve got me, and other loved ones, and yes- even God- ON YOUR SIDE.  Hand me a pitchfork and I’ll help you shovel some poo out of your stall.  I’ll hand you your rose colored glasses when you can’t find them.   Ah, and don’t fall into that other trap, either… the one where, once you’ve done the work, and learned your lessons, you now think you have a handle on it, or are above those lucky people who only have tiny problems… for as two dear friends have recently reminded me, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”.  Some of us are roses, and some of us are oak trees.  It is not better to be one than the other, but we would certainly expect the oak to handle a storm or a cold hard winter a little better, right? Yet where would we be without the beauty of the rose?  If you are an oak, and you are facing oak-sized problems, you will make a great shelter from the storms of life the rose is going through, and her beauty will encourage and delight you.  The universe is a place of harmony and balance, and to whom much is given, much is required.  Conversely, when our capacity for experiencing pain is deepened, I believe our capacity for experiencing pleasure, also deepens, when we don’t close ourselves off and allow apathy, jadedness, self-pity, anger, or bitterness to deaden us and desensitize us to both the pain and the joy.

I’ll talk a little more about the work, about how to get your house out of chaos (as I do it, lol)- since I know many women struggle with where to begin when things get out of hand- and, I will be doing a series on Warmth and inviting an amazing friend, Waldorf class teacher, and anthroposophical counselor to guest post here- great things coming up for 2014!

I also want to say a huge “Thank You” to everyone who has been a part of Cedar Ring Circle, and especially those ladies who were incredibly patient with me during October, November, and December as my family went through those difficult times.  There were many times I felt like giving up, and a kind word on facebook or by email from a mama kept me going.  Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Protection- “Holding the Image”

Connection, Direction, and “Protection”…  What do we think of when we think of protecting our children?  I think it is natural to immediately think of protecting them from physical danger or exposure to things that are not appropriate for them.  Well, certainly this is part of it.  But, our quest is to believe in, love, and share Goodness, so dwelling on thoughts of a fearful nature are obstructions to our quest.  I know especially within Waldorf it can be easy to slip into the mindset of worry when dwelling on the effects of screen time, synthetic plastic or fiber toys, processed foods, early academics, you name it.  “It’s Too Awakening.”  “It’s Too Stimulating.” “It’s Not Natural.” “It’s Not Developmentally Appropriate.” It reminds me of a recent discussion on a Waldorf board, where someone mentioned they thought they heard a Waldorf teacher say that using “weekly themes” could give the child a sense of time and their world being fractured. I immediately imagined this scenario:

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Obviously the meme blows it out of proportion a bit, but I think we often blow things out of proportion when it comes to protecting our children.  I think we make big deals of the physical, impermanent world and need to make a bit bigger deal about how to protect in the realm of spirit and soul, which trump body. After all, as the saying goes- we are not just physical bodies having a spiritual experience- rather, we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. And how do we protect within the realm of spirit and soul?  What has come to me in my meditations is the idea of “Holding the Image.”  Yes, last time I mentioned “holding the space” (Melisa Nielson did you coin that term?” I know I heard it from you first!).  This time… holding the image. We hold the image of our child’s highest self. In holding it, we are protecting it. We are keeping it intact, cared for, alive and strong.

I know it seems like I frequently mention my difficulties/disconnect with my Christian beliefs.  And here I go again.  Just humor me, because I’m working it out in real time after 8 years of religious elementray school and a couple at Bible College. 🙂 I really feel like one of the biggest breakthroughs in my parenting came when I stopped believing the Christian ideology of sin nature.  No, I’m not trying to turn John Calvin or any other theologian over in his grave or anything.  But (if you are working from a basic Christian perspective), you believe we were created by God, and created in the image of God, how could we possibly be created with a nature of sin?  We were created with a free will- so I believe we have a choice nature. Not negative, not positive- but neutral. We have the choice to choose lower or higher vibration, aka to function via the flesh vs. to function via the spirit, higher nature or lower nature. Now by actually using that free will to sin, did we suddenly change our very nature?  Nope.  We introduced a low vibration to the mix, but we didn’t become the low vibration, we just started functioning on a lower level than we have the potential to. Our nature is still the same- a choice nature.  We do increase the likelihood of future sin, or “missing the mark” as sin is defined, because once you’ve “gone there” it is easy to follow a groove that’s been carved out.  But, tipping the scales a bit in our best interest, God actually sees us as our potential. He stands outside of time, Holding the Image, seeing us as perfect and complete in Him- the way He intends.

I recently heard a recording of a young boy, about nine, explaining predestination- that it is like a hint of our destiny, and we can choose to follow it or not. I love that. So I see God intending for us, and we can choose to follow in His intention, the “destiny” He has pre-thought- well, not really pre-thought since He stands outside of time, but whatever the equivalent is in Divine Being!- or, we decide to go another way (because, you know, we have a choice nature).

So back to keeping the idea of our child’s highest self being protected… what does this look like?  This means believing the best about our children.  Love believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, can I get an amen (I Cor. 13)? This means not considering our child a liar, a thief, a complainer, or lazy even if they exhibit any of those behaviours.  Stand with God outside of eternity, get that image of your child at his or her best- as if they have fulfilled every jot and tittle of what God created them to be, and are perfect now, covered in righteousness and grace- and visualize every last shred of negative ideas about your child turn into a thin inky veil of fog swirling around your child.  That inky cloud is Error, and Be-Lieving In, or to Be Living In, it is to be “dwelling in” error, which is error itself. So watch the cloud of error dissolve- visualize it wafting away into nothing as light pierces through darkness, and light becomes the absence of darkness. Now, that light is Love.  Be that love, that light, in your child’s life.  This works for your spouse, too.

And to give some concrete examples of how this affects my parenting, I remind my children of who they really are.  Rather than “Stop being such a complainer!”, it’s “I know you appreciate all the blessings you have been showered with lately- let’s start counting those blessings together. ”  Instead of “Stop being such a tease to your brother!” it is, “I know you are a kind and loving person, and you dislike to see the people you love hurting… can you show me a little of that love I know is in your heart? Or perhaps the behaviour is just reflecting a state of being out of sync, and mom needs to step in and hold that space- “Maybe you are needing  more personal space right now and this situation isn’t working? Lets figure out how to change this dynamic”- new activity, new room, new beginning.

I love the verse that says “For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” You may be saying, “How can I treat my child like they are perfect when it is so obvious to my senses they are not?” Think about this; now you see through a glass, darkly. There are two spiritual laws, as real to me as gravity; one is that we create our own reality; the other is what we focus on, we get more of.  “Creating our own reality” means that if we choose to view things from a certain perspective, we can be sure we will keep finding evidence to support our conclusion that our perspective is correct.  If you choose to look at the world as half empty, you’ll find plenty of proof that things are not ideal.  If you choose to believe you are blessed beyond measure, and are actively looking for blessings and miracles, you will find them everywhere!  So it just stands to reason, if you choose to view your child as defiant, they will become, at least in your mind, more defiant.  You will feel at odds and keep perpetuating this defiance myth.  “What you focus on, you get more of” coincides with the law of attraction.  The pop culture law of attraction became twisted when it offered the false idea that you attract what you want (ie, money, relationships, etc).  Rather, you attract what you are. So if you are feeling at odds with your child or spouse, you will keep behaving as though you are at odds; they will sense this; the drama will play out.

In Holding the Image, we offer redemption to restore the image when it has been clouded.  Redemption, in my mind, is the opposite of punishment.  It is the anti-punishment (you know, like anti-matter)! You offer the child a way back to find that perfect image of themselves you hold out to them- to step back into that beautiful intention for all they can be and do.   When feelings have been hurt, we make restitution by showing love.  When property has been damaged, we replace it.  When milk spills, we clean it up.  Forgiveness, grace. All better!

And how does Holding the Image and offering redemption protect our children? It protects them by ensuring they have every bit of assistance they need to live from their Higher Self, their self when connected to their Source. There, within Source, perfect loves casts out all fear. It is a haven of safety, a place of perfection. When you are connected to Goodness, viewed as Good and of worth, ultimately, you will begin to behave in kind… you will instinctively avoid bad situations, because you are so accustomed to dwelling within that state of wellbeing, you will notice dischord and know to avoid it.

In troubleshooting negative behaviour, it is also helpful to examine the drive behind it (an unmet need? a false perception? a feeling of disconnect from you, the parent?). I’ve often considered how in homeopathy, we seek to bring disease out of the body, and skin problems are viewed as a good sign (the problem is coming to the surface to make an exit– vs. allopathic medicine attempting to steamroll the problem, which generally shoves it back down…  we don’t see any “symptoms”, not because the problem is gone but because we are uncomfortable with it and try to sweep it under the rug, so to speak.  Punitive discipline does not root out the cause- it tries to simply get rid of the behaviour.  The cause very often remains, and resurfaces later in new manifestations or neurotic behaviours as the child tries with increasing frustration to “work it out”- to self-heal.  Connecting in love, telling therapeutic stories, and meeting needs are great for acting as a catalyst for working such things out of the system.

The first place to begin, of course, is in “holding the image” for ourselves.  If you have trouble envisioning this picture of you clothed in perfection, complete in your Source, I think you’ve got an assignment… meditate on it! I do this often, because I have PILES of guilt to unload from being told and believing I was riddled with sin, it was in my nature to go the wrong way, and constantly being made to feel “wrong” because I had no concept of the image my Source holds when He looks at me- already complete in the truest sense of time, eternity, where all work is already finished; lovable; worthy of love. Guilt and shame may be useful for about a split instant as we get a flash of them before or after a negative behaviour- they inform us Nope! Low vibration this way- steer clear- get back to redemption!” Beyond that split second, when we identify with them and dwell with them, we begin to attract more guilt and shame vibrations.  Shame… the gift that keeps on giving- ugh! RUN AWAY (or as my Baptist friends would say- “leave it at the cross”)! In our “dark glass” of physicality, smudged and cloudy, we peer out to eternity trying to make sense of it, still striving to grasp more beautiful realities…


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Direction

Once upon a time… a long time ago… I started what was supposed to be a parenting series on the blog, called “Connection,  Direction, and Protection”.  In the first post I gave a small overview and a few favorite resources for parenting; in the second, explored connecting with your child (what gets in the way, and what helps).  And then… I found myself unable to complete the part of the series on “Direction”.  At the time I meant to write that post I was having revelations that made me feel… well, woefully inadequate to address the topic. 🙂

The pieces of the puzzle really seem to have fallen in place for me lately on the subject of “direction”.  I find it has everything to do with my state of mind.  I call this state of mind, “The Parent Zone”.  The parent zone is a place where I have unlimited access to the central qualities that contribute to success in directing/disciplining/training my children- wisdom, love, and lots of patience.  I found the Parent Zone by coming to see that I do not “need” anything outside of me to be a good parent.  We often speak of love, patience and wisdom as if they have limited availability or are stocked in some heavenly warehouse to be doled out in rations.  No- they are not things to be acquired, but rather states of being to enter into. I’ve come to see patience as a place, or vibration if you will, *not* a “spiritual commodity”.  To get there, I simply intend it… remember what it feels like… will to be there. I remind myself “I am patient.  I am loving. I am wise. I am the only person qualified to help this child be all that he or she can be, by Divine mandate when I ‘accepted the mission’ upon conception. All of nature is striving to help me on my mission, from the sun shining down on me to the angels hovering around.”  Then, whether or not I have the sensation of feeling confident, loving, and patient, I confidently claim my place within the realm of it and the feelings, they always eventually follow. Whenever I find myself slipping out of the parenting zone, or vibrating to a lower frequency than patience and love with my children, I simply purpose to return.  I visualize the dark clouds of lower consciousness, stress, and confusion swirling around me; I watch as they disperse and Divine light surrounds me; and I am there again.

What is “direction”? Direction is “to manage or guide by advice, helpful information, instruction… to regulate the course of… to give authoritative instructions to” (dictionary.com).  We have authority- an authority that springs from experience, having already participated in and “learned the ropes” (to a degree!).  Our authority is tempered by something which Khalil Gibran explains in such an inspired way-

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Why do we need to direct our children? I am convinced we *all* have guidance along the way- whether perceived or not perceived (i.e., angelic guidance, Holy Spirit, etc). Out of love, our Creator ordained this.  We are guided by inner knowing, angelic help, and Spirit.  We in turn can offer the same guidance and support to those who come along the path after us.  We can form a beautiful circle of support, where everyone turns to the one coming after them and offers assistance, and this energy of helping others forward/upward propels this circle, gives it a velocity all its own, so that as a community or collective we have even greater momentum in our individual and group destiny and purpose.  We cultivate our relationships with our children so that this direction we offer will be well-received.

When do we direct our children? At all times.  Much of our direction can be unobtrusive, because simply by being the person we were meant to be, we are providing a blueprint for our child to be observe the technique of living on purpose, being the person you are meant to be.  By striving for upward growth ourselves and accepting the direction we are offered (through angelic guidance, Holy Spirit, inner knowing), we are quietly and indirectly directing our children on the path.  Sometimes we will be prompted to offer more tangible, “direct” direction- and we will know to do that when we are not truly at peace with remaining silent.  We also know when we have done enough- when we are no longer feeling peaceful with using words or actions- when we have the sense we are overtalking or over-reacting. It takes discipline and consciousness on our part to stay within our “place” so that we don’t burden our children with too much direction, or leave them bewildered with not enough. A good gauge for offering tangible direction are the classic three scenarios- damage to self, damage to others, damage to property.  We lead away from these things, and towards abundance, because that is our true Divine nature- what we were created for.

Which way (“where“) do we direct our children? The “direction” we offer is very similar to tending a garden. The blueprints to become exactly what he or she is meant to be are already contained within the child, so it certainly is not required of me to try to orchestrate who they will become in terms of interests, vocation, destiny.  An apple seed will become an apple tree, and a flower seed a flower. But I can offer the seedling conditions which will help it thrive, so that it can be an abundant and healthy apple tree or flower, and not one plagued by pests and struggling to compete for its basic needs.  Like a grape vine or a pea plant, I can “train” the growth to be an upward, onward force, instead of a disorganized tangle that “spins it wheels” in producing fruit, with little to show for all its efforts.  From fruit trees, to vineyards, to tomato plants- a good gardener helps the plant find the best direction for growth, carefully pruning and training for maximum productivity- to reap the most from what has been sown- towards abundance in all things.

How do I direct my child? In her book “Heaven On Earth”, Sharifa Oppenheimer reminds us that learning, for children, takes place on three levels; sensory (the senses), movement, and imitation. As mentioned previously, much of our direction comes from the simple process of providing a role model.  We are wired for imitation, which is a natural way to absorb the knowledge and skills we need.  Learning proceeds by degrees.  We begin with focused concentration of the conscious mind.  When learning to ride a bike, it takes all our effort and concentration to master the skill.  But as we practice, the “knowing” penetrates the deeper reaches of the subconscious and it becomes “second nature”, or habit, and we perform the skill almost effortlessly. So, our number one way to direct is simply by being a worthy rode model- and “holding that space” open for our child to enter into with us. When my child asks me for something- for instance, a glass of water- I can answer “I’d be happy to get that for you.”  And imagine the delight when I ask my child to set the table, and he or she replies, “I’d be happy to!” (yes, it happens in my house! I love it!).

In regards to movement and the senses, we need to acknowledge that our child does not share the same consciousness we do as adults.  This is as it should be, and too often I see adults trying to force the child’s consciousness into a more “intellectual” adult-type consciousness.  To be honest, too often I myself am guilty of this.  We need to meet the child where he or she is at- because it is through fully participating in that imaginative, curious, physically active (read: neurons firing!) “childish” state that they are specially geared towards becoming a successful adult, in good time (and we need not confuse “foolish with childish”- there is a difference).

  • We can infuse those moments of “direct” or tangible direction with movement and sensory stimulus. You can get very creative with this, and I don’t hesitate to share with my child that their learning is amplified by physical movement- so I might ask them to “pat your tummy while repeating what I just said- it will help you remember”.
  • We can frame our instructions in positive action- “i.e., show me how you shut the door softly” vs. negative action- “don’t slam the door!”.  If you want to develop and engage the will, you cannot try to squish it- you must give it a “form” to expand into.
  • We can harness the power of that creative imagination children are so proficient in- “pretend you are a little mouse and tiptoe past the cat” (when you want them to do something quietly).
  • We can teach through parables and stories, perhaps even using props and physical participation from our children.  Jesus used parables, knowing stories can be very non-confrontational ways to reach the heart and spirit with great truths. This is where the book I mentioned in the resources section, “Healing Stories For Challenging Behaviour”, comes in.

Above all, when we offer direction, we need to banish fear and other negative emotions from our being and direct out of unselfish love…

My own experience as a child who was “spanked” clearly illustrated this for me.  My parents were/are very loving human beings who truly wanted to help me be a disciplined, self-controlled person.  They were never cruel- in fact, they never raised their voice at me (seriously- my mother never yelled at me- not.once). They believed spanking was a biblical mandate to help accomplish this.  I’ve spent a lot of time and research coming to a place of understanding the theology behind spanking.  In a nutshell, “spanking” is not in the bible, “beating with a rod” is. This was ok to do to your slave or your child, and now (in our present cultural consciousness) it is no longer acceptable to do it to your slave- or even have a slave. In context, the rod is not a flexible tree branch but a shepherds staff or king’s sceptre “shebet”, something most of us would flinch to see a child hit with, something that in Exodus 20 we see can cause death if used severely. There are several verses about the rod (most of which are found in Proverbs, a book of allegory, which could also be interpreted as a figurative use of the word meaning “authority”) used in Christian circles to justify hitting our children with hands, wooden spoons, etc.  There is no such precedent for this kind of casual, commonplace hitting in the Bible.  While God allowed slavery, beating, stoning, and divorce to occur, He did not, I believe, condone any of them.  He simply recognized that this was where we were at as human beings living out of a lower consciousness, and made minimum requirements as to how we could deal with our problems and behave so that we would not, out of mercy, be removed from the sphere of physical existence and be transported back to spirit (as was the case for cultures who offered their infants to burn in ritual sacrifice).  As we strive for higher consciousness, we find higher ways to deal with situations as God would.  If God was willing to allow all of creation to fall under a curse due to man’s poor choice in order that we might have this amazing gift of free will, and then embark on the incredible task of bridging the gap between Himself and us that our choice created, between our lower nature (ie, “duality” “separateness”, “tree of the knowledge of good and evil”) and a Higher nature, why would someone seek to beat that free will out of their kid and replace it with a fear of punishment?  In addition, science shows that stress hormones such as those that course through your body when you are subjected to physical pain inhibit learning (other than learning to avoid pain) and shut down your brain’s higher centers.  You may learn what not to do, but you haven’t learned the more important thing- what to do.

I found myself very unable to self-govern at age 18 when I no longer needed to “fear the rod”, and it took me a long time (and many bad experiences) to come to place of self-governing out of true love for myself and honoring my own well-being as a child of God.  For many years I was enticed by tempting situations that my inner knowing warned me against but my will was too under-developed and weak to avoid.  This led to guilt, and guilt lowered my sense of self worth so that I did not feel worthy or capable of attracting abundance and joy into my life, and often settled for negative relationships and circumstances.

If we were to begin a new job, we would be “trained” for the task.  If we failed during the training process, we would not be hit or otherwise punished; it would be ludicrous to punish someone for something you have not yet successfully taught them to do.  Likewise, in directing our child, we patiently and lovingly show them how to do something by doing it ourselves as they witness (model), then invite their participation, then witness them doing it on their own.  Each step may take as long as it needs to take before readiness for the next step.  When it has been taken up from the focused concentration of the conscious mind to the easy breezy second nature/habit state of the subconscious mind, it has been fully mastered.   If it is continually practiced, it should remain “second nature”.  If it is not, we may need to begin again and retrain.

Mistakes happen, lapses of self-control occur, and these are addressed with opportunities for reflection and do-over, or “redemption”.  We can’t expect our children to be fully capable of self-governing, any more than we can expect our baby to pop out of the womb and walk.  Just as the infant “grows into” his body and learns mastery of it, our children are growing into their higher selves, or spirits, and learning mastery of their higher functions of self-governance.

PeterRay

Awareness, on all levels, comes by degrees…

When we are impatient and look for short-cuts, we employ what I consider to be harmful strategies- behaviour modification.  This short-circuits the learning process, or creates a more “shallow” learning process, and teaches children to act for short term greed (rewards) or out of fear (punishment) rather than because it is the right thing to do. I believe punishment and reward based discipline removes our child from the state of being in tune with Spirit and higher consciousness, and instead, focuses their attention on the temporal.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction- and coming to a battle of the wills is the last thing we want to engage in because if we push our child a certain way, it is the law of the universe, of nature, of balance in all things- that they will push back the other way!  Picture a tug of war, with each side becoming more set in their current stance, trying to stand their ground.  As a parent, when you feel that tug of war taking place spiritually with your child, drop the rope!  Take a step towards your child. Get on their side, because the battle is not between you and your child- it is between your child and their own ego/lower nature!

Granted, sometimes we are at our wits end and just need to keep our child safe or keep something from breaking.  No shame, no guilt if we resort to behaviour modification in moments of stress when we have distractedly fallen out of The Parent Zone. But.. I believe there is a better way.  A higher way.  A way which brings greater joy to all involved, and makes parenting our children a more spiritually rewarding experience.

Enter the Parent Zone…

KeepCalm


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Garden Reverie

We haven’t done much in the garden this year. I realized I was expecting too much of myself, and growing a baby was quite enough for right now! And yet, I am drawn to the garden.  I love seeing what decides to come up on its own.  This year, there are dozens of huge, bushy comfrey plants; a gigantic carpet of thyme; a strawberry patch that’s been yielding a quart a day; some potatoes that never sprouted last year, and thought they’d give it a try this year; a few green beans, since I couldn’t help but plant those- they’re my favorite!; a couple transplanted greenhouse tomatoes; a tiny corn patch the kids planted (they like to plant large seeds, small ones just seem to slip right out of their fingers); and oh-my-gosh the old plum tree has pulled out all the stops and bears dozens of tiny plums!  The spiral of greens I planted hasn’t wanted to come up.  I am a bit suspicious that the bunnies have nibbled away the young sprouts, since that bed is closest to a spot where they nest on the other side of the sagging, rather nominal garden fence.

 

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Rose

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Comfrey

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Soapwort

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Onion

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Chive

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Queen Anne’s Lace

In the early morning, I join the snails, rejoicing in the dawn-lit dew.  The flowers offer a meditative query… am I open to all the universe is offering, beaming straight down to me?  Those magical, mystical spiritual lessons and treasures which must be dancing in the sunbeams and tumbling down on the wings of the wind?

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Dr. Wayne Dyer talks about the first nine months of our existence.  We simply allow our destiny to unfold, trusting implicitly in the grand design occurring with our complicity.  It doesn’t need to be any different, he contemplates, once we leave the womb- and yet so often we seem to tell our Creator, or Source- “Thanks- I’ll take over from here.”  I often struggled with the idea of being predestined vs. having a free will.  And then I realized… there is a beautiful plan in place… a plan called Harmony… and free will is the choice to be a part of it, or to walk away and choose Chaos.  I choose Harmony. Harmony doesn’t mean the winds don’t shake me and the afternoon sun doesn’t beat down in all its strength… but Harmony trusts that it is all good, and nothing is wasted.

I want to be like the flowers, open and inviting, offering the sweetest nectars of love, compassion, understanding, and hope to all who visit… collecting the waters of life, whether they be wrung from the storm clouds or manifested through condensation as I find balance in the highs and lows of life… to offer the thirsty a drink.

Consider the flowers… they toil not. How can I bring that existence of restful calm to my tasks?