You may be thinking; I’m not grieving. I haven’t lost anyone. We tend to associate grief with the loss of a person but the loss of life. But grief can come about with any significant loss in our life, whether it’s a loss of income, loss of a job, loss of freedom, loss of a lifestyle, or loss of relationships.

The coronavirus has put almost everyone in the world in the same boat, at least for a while. As of this moment, we have all experienced some sort of loss, a lot of us are locked down. As I was creating this, we got the order from the Governor of Ohio. At midnight tomorrow, we are in lockdown. Only essential services and trips are allowed. We have a loss of freedom. Some of us literally can’t leave our homes. We can’t go to the movies. We can’t go shopping and be out with groups of people. We can’t go out to eat. I live this lifestyle most days anyway. But, there was something about hearing that announcement, when I knew it was going to be imposed on me for the unknown future, which caused anxiety, fear, and even grief. I’ve never been incarcerated. But, I imagine it feels a little like this.

These things are losses. That feeling you’ve got right now is probably some level of grief.

In my book, Grief 2 Growth, I wrote:

Grief is deep, prolonged mental anguish, intense sorrow, emotional suffering, resulting from a loss, especially the death of a loved one.Grief manifests in many ways. It manifests in shock, disbelief, anger, rage, fear, sadness, uncontrollable crying, a feeling of emptiness, the belief that life will never be the same again, the belief that you will never be happy again, and a lack of concentration. Life feels like it’s falling apart. It may even feel like your life has come to a halt. You’ll say things like my world has ended.

You may not be feeling all those things exactly right now, and you may not feel all those things when you go through any type of grief. But I think we’re all feeling this kind of a shock. We find ourselves in a situation that we never thought we’d find ourselves living in America. We can have anger and sadness about it. Many of us have lost income. A lot of us have lost income. Some of us have lost jobs. Some people have been laid off even in this two week or so period. So we’re experiencing a sense of grief with all of these changes. Grief itself is not an emotion, but it’s a container. It’s something that triggers or carries all these other emotions with it.

Adjusting Expectations:

If you’re feeling this way, it’s OK. You’re normal. I think we’re all feeling it. But there are a couple of good things. First of all, humans are remarkably, remarkably adaptive beings. We adjust to situations very quickly. You may not believe this right now, but we adjust to our new normals- usually very quickly. We can do it very well as a collective and as individuals. I have spoken with a lot of people who have had children cross. As you know, my daughter Shana passed away. When it first happens, you swear you could never get used to this. It could never be your normal. But, you do adjust to the new normal. I’m not saying that we necessarily like it. We don’t. But, we learn to live with it.

Just in the last ten days, I’ve made an adjustment to my expectations are the grocery store. The shelves aren’t full like they used to be. The first time that happened, it was kind of a shock to me. Now, it’s not as big of a deal, already. I went out to Trader Joe’s a week or so ago, and I was thrilled to find choices of bread. I thought I’d have just to take whatever they had. I was excited to see eggs, any eggs. Bonus, they were the ones I would have bought anyway. I felt gratitude for the opportunity to purchase what I usually take for granted. I had already adjusted that quickly to the fact that we don’t have all the choices at this particular moment, as we’ve had in the past. I think we’ll get those choices back relatively soon, as soon as panic buying stops. I intend to remain grateful. We’ll see if that happens.

So, be hopeful that as we go through this. I have to admit a little bit of a panic the other day when they said we might be locked down for weeks or maybe even months. An,d I live a very socially isolated life to begin with. It’s not a big deal for me not to leave the house for four or five days at a time, but the difference is the choice. Usually, I can still go out if I want to, I can still interact with people face to face. I can even get close to someone if I want to. When that choice is taken away it is a whole different thing that makes this feel more like confinement. If it’s triggering that reaction for me, I’m sure it’s much worse for those who are used to going out and interacting socially face-to-face every day.

What you can do:

Let me give you some tips for navigating through these uncharted waters. There are two keys- hope and purpose. Human beings need both. I always encourage my clients to maintain hope. We look for any reason to hang onto hope. If we have hope, that gives us the strength to get through the next moment. Purpose is also necessary. We need to feel we are serving a purpose. We need to feel like what we are enduring has a purpose. If we have a purpose, if we can find purpose in our struggle, we can literally survive anything.

Finding purpose:

I want to assure you there’s a reason for the things we’re going through. There is a reason for the social isolation. When you stay at home, you might feel like you’re doing nothing. You might feel frustrated. Look at it this way. When you take yourself out of that chain of transmission of this virus that travels from person to person to person, you have cut the infection off. If you’re not there at that gathering where there is a carrier, not only do you not become sick, you don’t carry it back to your family, your grandmother, your neighbors. You are doing your job in this global pandemic. You’re not transmitting the virus around. The thing about this virus is it’s not coming to get you. It doesn’t have arms; it doesn’t have legs. It will not be coming through your front door unless you or someone carries it in. It requires people to move from place to place. We can stop it. We will stop it.

The other thing I want to talk about to do while we’re in this isolation period is to try to get back to as normal as possible. Yes, you’re doing your duty to your community and the world by sitting on the couch and watching Netflix. But, let’s aim a little higher. You can’t leave your house right now. So what can you do?

If you have a job and you can still work from home, continue to work. That’s your job. You’re getting paid for that. Give your employer what they are paying for. I suspect at the end of this many more of us will be working from home as employers realize we don’t all need to be in the office. That, I think, is a good thing. Less traffic, less pollution. If you are not able to work from home and you have to stay at home, try to maintain a sense of some normalcy.

I can tell you as someone who’s worked from home for over 20 years now; these are things that I practice. I still get up early. I do not sleep in. You may not have to get up at 4:30 or 5:00, or whatever time you get up for a day or work. But, try to be up at a reasonable hour. Try to maintain going to bed at a reasonable time, knowing you want to get up at a reasonable time. Get dressed. You don’t have to put on a suit and tie. But, take a shower, put on some clothes, and get yourself dressed. I put on workout clothes and take a 7-mile hike before I shower and dress. But, after I shower, I put on real clothes, every day.

As I said, that in itself is a purpose if you’re on the couch watching Netflix, and you’re not out, then you’re doing something with a purpose. But, there are so many opportunities now. If you bought a guitar, like I did, and you haven’t picked it up in a couple of years, get on YouTube and take some guitar lessons. There’s a website called Udemy.com. Go there, find some courses, maybe even get a certification. There’s a site called learn.fiverr.com. Last week, I took a course in doing voiceover work. I’d already bought the course. But, I took the extra time I have to finishthe course. Do something productive in terms of improving your skill sets. Take a language, if that’s something that appeals to you. Read some of those books you’ve been meaning to read.

Continue to exercise if you do. If you’re a gym person, find something you can do at home. After you’ve worked out and accomplished your task for the day, reward yourself with some downtime. Most of us work way too hard. While this isn’t’ a staycation; take some time for yourself. Binge some Netflix.

This is also a perfect time to relax and reflect and to go within. Since we can’t go out; I mean literally, we can’t go out; this is time to go within. So I have doubled my meditation time. I’m sometimes doing two or three meditation sessions a day. I’m taking this as a little bit of a meditation retreat.

A lot of times when we’re on vacation; let’s face it, we drink alcohol all day long, because we’re on vacation. Alcohol is a depressant. If you are prone to depression and anxiety, beware that being shut in like this with no choice is very likely to trigger that anxiety and depression. Maintain your mental health. Limit your alcohol use. Alcohol also interferes with your sleep pattern. You want to keep your immune system strong. A vital part of that is getting proper sleep. Even though you might be tempted because you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, don’t drink alcohol all day long. Keep it reasonable. If you usually come home in the evening and you have a drink or two, OK. Have a drink or two in the evening. But let’s no take this time to start binge drinking. Binge drinking is also harmful to your immune system.

Be informed:

Also, limit your news. It’s essential to stay informed. Before this, I watched the news all day long. Well, not all day. But, I turned the news on a lot during the day. I watched it in the morning. I watched it when I took my lunch break, and I watched it after I had dinner. I’m limiting the amount of news I’m taking him right now because frankly, there’s so much bad news out there, that I don’t want to bring my energy level down with that. I know people who never watch the news. I’m not one of those people. I don’t intend to become one. But, with the24x7 news cycle, you see the same thing over and over again anyway.

So I’m staying informed. And I’m focusing on the good news. It’s essential to stay informed because there is so much misinformation as well as new information coming in. Do the things they’re telling you to do. Wash your hands thoroughly, practice social distancing. When you go out and come in, be cognizant of what you’re bringing back in. But know this. The virus is pretty weak. There are a lot of ways you cannot get it.

I read an article this morning about food safety because I was concerned about the restaurants delivering food to me. What if the workers are sick? Educate yourself on the facts here. I was wrong, and I learned. I’m not going to go into details here. I’m just going to say it’s safe to order food for takeout or delivery.

The other thing is the virus lives a very short time on most surfaces. From what I’ve been able to see about three days at longest on surfaces. Viruses die by half-life. It starts with a “load,” and the virus gets to the point where finally there is none left. That is the point that you hear when you hear about how long coronavirus can live on a surface. It’s the time when the last one is gone. We don’t know the viral load required to make you sick. So, better safe than sorry. But, after several hours, there is already less virus than there was to begin with. The same with the idea of the virus hanging in the air. Most droplets quickly fall to the ground. The numbers we hear are based on ideal conditions for the virus to survive. Be cautious. But don’t be paranoid.

It’s great to keep your house clean, but you don’t have to be obsessive about it, especially if you’re isolating. If you leave the house, when you come back, wash your hands before you touch your face or anything else. I go straight into the bathroom and I wash my hands. Come back to the groceries that you picked up. Other people have touched them. Those surfaces of the outside may be contaminated. But again, the virus is going to live on those for a few days- maximum. So after three days, those packages are safe. You might want to wipe them down as you’re putting them away just to be safe in case you’re going to use them soon.

In my particular case, we haven’t had people in the house for a week other than my daughter Kayla. We had several people over last weekend. If they deposited viruses on anything, those viruses were gone in a few days. When you’re in your house, you can feel safe. After you’ve brought anything into the house, disinfect it, wash your hands and go about your day. I’m not a medical doctor. I’m not giving medical advice here. I just don’t want us all to go OCD over this virus and think it’s got super strength. This virus is actually pretty weak like most Coronaviruses are. It can’t stand a lot of sunlight. It can’t live outside of a human host very long. While we want to be very, very cautious about it, we also don’t want to think this thing is like around the corner, ready to jump on us.

There is a lesson:

I believe there is a lesson in this for us. I’ll save that for another time. But, as we navigate this, instead of asking “Why is this happening to me?”, try asking “What is this here to teach me?”

That’s it. I know you’re feeling grief right now, and that’s OK. Sit with it, observe it. Be aware all of those emotions you’re feeling are normal. Observe them and let them pass. I deal with grief on a daily basis with my clients and having gone through the passing of Shayna. So, I know a little bit about this and what what you guys are going through. You may find yourself surprised at some of the emotions you’re having. They’re perfectly natural. There are things that you can do to give yourself some control and a sense of purpose. There’s a lot of hope out there. So I encourage you to look for the hope and read the useful articles. I’ve seen some excellent pieces that give encouragement, which will give you the hope you need to get through this. I wrote an article recently about  Seven Good News Stories about the Coronavirus.

Covid-19 is probably going to be with us for a while. It’s going to be a bumpy road for the next few weeks or months. But we’ve had pandemics before. We’ve gotten a handle on them before. Life will return to normal at some point. Frankly, I hope we don’t go back to the way we were. I hope we learn some lessons from this. I think there are a lot of lessons for us to learn. I’ll go into those in another time.

Be well!

Image by Gary Ross from Pixabay

“Family, where life begins, and love never ends.”

It’s a lovely thought, isn’t it? This is on a plaque my wife bought. It’s in our downstairs powder room. It’s a great sentiment. But, it certainly doesn’t resonate with everyone. This week in the Afterlife Topics group on Facebook, someone asked a question about soul planning. This person could not believe she would have chosen the family she was born into. “Was I high at the time?” she asked. “Why would I do this to myself?”

Common Themes

This weekend I watched Rocketman, the movie about Elton John’s life. There are familiar themes in his biopic. Maybe that’s why it resonated with so many people. First, there is the relationship with his father. Elton’s father is a cold man who cannot show love. This lack of the ability to show love isn’t uncommon among men of a particular generation. But, children crave a parent’s love, the way a plant needs sunshine. As I watched the movie, I thought of the “father wound” that John Eldredge wrote about in his book “Wild At Heart.” Reading that book nearly 20 years ago now gave me insights about myself and my family dynamic that were huge leaps forward on my road to discovering myself.

Eldredge writes about how boys seek the approval of their fathers. We expect the father to show us how to be a man, and most importantly, once we have achieved that to acknowledge it, to tell us how proud they are of us, to christen us “a man.” In the film, there is a scene where years after Elton has left home; he returns to his now-divorced father. He’s worth millions of pounds. Elton’s songs are topping the charts. Even Elton’s much younger half-brothers are fans. The longing in Elton’s face as he awaits any sign of approval from his father is palpable. The tears he cries as he leaves dejected again are tears we have cried in secret. In case you’re wondering, we do not outgrow this need. Men can carry this craving, and this wound with them for a lifetime. We often feel like boys pretending to be men because we never got this validation.

Another theme in the movie is imposter syndrome, which is incredibly common among celebrities and often leads to destructive behavior. They feel unworthy of all of the money and adoration. Often they never got this from the people who matter most to them, parents and family. The more worship they get, the more unworthy they feel. They think, “If you knew the real me, you wouldn’t love me.” They end up in tremendous pain, which they try to numb with alcohol and drugs.

Going Back to The Beginning

We return to family for affirmation, at times. As shown in the movie, even as a grown, wildly successful man, Elton wants that approval from his father and his mother. As human beings, we seek the approval of other human beings. Having this desire for affirmation from others is necessary for socialization to work. This is how we learn to fit into a functioning society Family is where we get this first socialization and validation.

It’s natural to return to family for this, even as we get older. After all, it’s where it all started. But, what we often find is family is there to teach us another lesson. That lesson is continuing to need this outside validation is fleeting and fickle. fleeting.

The Lessons from Family

Real, lasting self-worth comes from within. When we find that family doesn’t give us the validation we crave, this is where we have the opportunity to turn within. We learn to rely on ourselves.

As I pondered why are we born into the families we are born into when they can cause us so much pain, I thought about it in terms of soul growth.

In the groups I hang out in, the people who are digging deep, the ones trying hard to discover who they are and why they are here, more often than not are the black sheep of their family. They grew up feeling like square pegs in round holes. They were never quite loved and accepted for being just who they were. But, this discomfort prompted them to become the shining lights they have become. Maybe that’s the answer to the young woman’s question. She knew that family would be a catalyst in her development. They played a crucial role in making her who she is today. No, you weren’t high when you chose your family. There was a method to your madness.

Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, all of these things are a confusing mix of emotions after we have “lost” a dear one. Shayna’s 20th birthday was a day that brought a feeling of dread as it loomed larger and larger on the calendar. Starting last week, well-meaning parents in Helping Parents Heal began offering sympathetic messages to me. I couldn’t ignore the day. I knew that I would have to go through it.

I woke up yesterday morning with a download of information from Shayna, an idea for a podcast to explain to others what these birthdays are like. As much as my approach would be to make it a day like any other day to forget it was Shayna’s 20th, that’s not possible. I knew I would be getting messages from people all day long. I steeled myself to face the day and to try to simply endure it.

After I posted the video, the responses started coming in. People were sending me love and support. But, as nice as the messages of “Happy Birthday” to Shayna were, what was uplifting were the messages from people saying how much my sharing Shayna had helped them. I was overflowing with gratitude all day long for all of the support from my friends. And, in case you have lost touch with your family through your loss, I want to add this. All of this support came from people not related to me. None of it was from my family. As I was telling a client last week “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” The bonds that are forged in our bottles are the bonds that endure.

I couldn’t have been down if I had wanted to. I felt lifted up all day long. I knew Shayna would find a way to get a message to me. She did a trick on my phone (which I posted about yesterday). She also delivered a hand-written message through my friend Claudia.

In case you can’t read the note, it says:

Hi Shayna, How wonderful to be born in January 2000!  I was hoping you might have a message for your Mom + Dad. Love, Claudia.

To my dear mother + father + sister.

I’m all over you. I mean I got this. You guys got a problem- I’m on it. You’re worried about something? I’ve already taken care of it. There’s nothing to worry about anymore.

Dad- what are you gonna do with all that extra time? LOL. You could probably rebuild the catacombs or something.

I do love you all- And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love me.

There’s nothing I’d rather do today than share cake with you- chocolate this time!

There is so much joy here- and I am learning how to share it! Even with you sour pusses. 🙂

I do miss the eye rolls and the protests because “There goes Shayna again.” but that’s just sometimes you forget I’M RIGHT HERE.

I love you all and I’m so proud of you all. I point you out and I say “That’s my family.” and they are all impressed.

Behave yourselves and have fun- or I’ll spook you!!!

Happy Birthday to Me

Love you Bunches!

Shayna

Tywana and I went out for pizza to our favorite pizza place. We came home, had some champagne (one we hadn’t had in nearly 20 years. Someone sent it to me a few months ago and I was waiting for an occasion to open it). We had tuxedo cake (chocolate). And, I watched the National Championship game.

Thank you to everyone who helped me more than endure the day. Thank you for making it a magical day. And, most especially, thank you to my baby, Shayna.

 

Many times when we are trying to define a thing as profound as God, it’s easier to say what it is not than to say what it is.

When it comes to figuring out who or what we are, the most basic of questions, we can find many errors along the way. Some of us, perhaps most of us, never quite get to the core of who and what we are because we get distracted along the way, stopping to identify with what we are not. Our sense of identity becomes connected to what we possess or experience rather than what we indeed are.

There is an ancient teaching that the eye cannot see itself; teeth cannot chew themselves; a finger cannot point to itself. This saying conveys the idea that anything we can point to, anything we can observe, is not our true Self.

People will fight to the death to defend an idea, their nationality, their religion. People will identify so closely with their gender or their sexuality that they forget those are only traits or possessions, things they own. These things are not what we are. I am not my nationality, my religion, my gender, or my sexuality.

Our self-esteem can rise or fall based on the amount in our bank account as if our wealth is us. The more wealth we have, the more we are “worth.” I am not my bank account.

If we are not our nationality, our religion, our gender, perhaps we are our bodies. My body is the next logical thing to turn to. But, our bodies are not the same as they were when we were born or even a few years ago. Cells come and go. We grow. We age. We die. Yet, in spite of all the changes in my body, I am still the same person I was when I was born. I will be the same person when this body is 80 years old. So, I cannot be my body. My body is also a possession. I am not my body.

The brain. Maybe I’m my brain. That’s where all the thinking takes place. That’s where I perceive the voice in my head is. But, we are finding out the brain is not the source of our consciousness. It’s more like a receiver. And the brain isn’t the sole receiver of consciousness. The heart has a neural network similar to the brain. I can observe my brain function. The brain is a key component in being conscious in a body. However, we know that consciousness can exist independent of brain function (NDEs) and afterlife communications. So, I cannot be my brain. I am not my brain.

As we drill down, we arrive on our thoughts and emotions. It’s easy to stop here. We experience thoughts and emotions on a level very close to who we actually are. They can seem to be uncontrollable. They are always with us. But we can observe our thoughts and emotions. We can learn to control them even. They are experiences. They come, and they go. They are not us. I am not my thoughts. I am not my emotions.

The next stop is the mind. Ah, I must be my mind. But, again, the mind is something we can learn to control. The mind is something that we can observe. It cannot be us. I am not my mind.

What remains? I am the Observer. I am the one witnessing all of these other things. I am the Experiencer. Life is a series of experiences and who I am is the Consciousness observing and having these experiences.

Put simply, I am.

I created this meme as a reminder to myself.

 

Connection. The more you are aware of this between you and all things, all people, the more peace, joy, and love you will experience in your life.

Separation. The more you see this as the truth of your existence , the more isolation and desolation you will feel.

Perspective is all-important. Looking at the surface, you cannot help but see separation, but that is learned behavior. You have grown accustomed to seeing with your physical eyes only and believing what you see. Look beneath the surface. May your physical eyes, if you must use them, become microscopes. Peer deeper, deeper, deeper … Aha! What just happened? To do this, you had to switch eyes. You used the eyes of imagination, thus switching to the inner eye. If you did not have this inner eye, you could not have visualized anything but blackness, yet you saw something, did you not? There is more to life than what you behold before you. Go within and intuit your soul’s innate connection with all that is, and know that where there is connection, there is love, for love is lack of separation. You are not alone. You never have been. You are This … Love.
www.DailyWay.org

The above was channeled by my friend, Suzanne Giesemann. It’s wisdom she downloads daily and publishes on her Facebook page. It was published today, October 29, 2019. For more like this, follower her on www.dailyway.org

The fact that we are connected is the message I’ve been hearing over the last several years as my spiritual journey has intensified. It is the message we hear from mystics, from near death experiencers, from mediums, and from those who have had spiritually transformative experiences. And, it is what I truly believe.

Why is it so hard for me, and many others, to internalize this message? Is it because it’s completely countercultural when it comes to the society I grew up in? America is a dog eat dog country. Your worth is determined by what you can produce. If you can’t produce enough, learn to produce more, or you don’t deserve to live. This is the message I’ve always gotten.

Just a few days ago I saw that someone had posted there were a few things we should all be able to agree with: 1.) That everyone deserves housing. 2.) That everyone deserves food 3.) That everyone deserves healthcare. A guy who said that he agrees and wasn’t offering any argument then went onto say, “Except for illegals.” I also hear people saying that if you have a job that doesn’t pay enough for you to live, you should educate yourself and get a better job. I guess they don’t realize that by saying this, what they are implying is: “The work is necessary. But, the person doing it doesn’t deserve to be paid a living wage.”

We come to this place to experience duality, to have hardships, to learn to push back. And, I believe we come to try to make it a better place. But, maybe the experiment has gotten a bit out of control. Too many of us feel alone because that is the message our society sends us. If you’re feeling alone, know this, you’re not alone in feeling that way. I know far too many people who are struggling to feel worthy and loved. They have forgotten their inherent worth. And they feel everyone else has, too.

This morning, a friend lamented that she was ready to give up. The struggle has become too much. There have been too many setbacks. She’s looking for a way to make some extra income. I offered her some words of encouragement. But, there was nothing I could really do for her. Just minutes after I saw her post, someone reached out to me with a business opportunity that was not for me. Divine timing? I don’t know. But, I started a chat and connected the two of them. I hope it works out.

Let’s all work to make the reality of our connectedness a reality to every one of us, not just on a deep, internal level that we have to struggle to see and keep in our minds and hearts. Let’s work to make it readily apparent to all. Today, make a commitment to make someone feel that connection.

Here in the northern hemisphere, it’s late October. The leaves are turning, the skies are often gray all day, and the days are short. If you’re feeling a little SAD, there may be a good reason for it.

What is SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects an estimated 5% of the population in a significant way. Another ten to twenty percent may have mild SAD. Sad’s impact is higher the farther north you live. It is four times more common in women than in men.

As we slide into the holidays, you might feel less energetic, less enthusiastic about life, and have a desire to hibernate. My theory is the reason we have so many holidays in the fall and winter is because of the lack of sun. We put them there because we want something to cheer us up. Sadly, for many of us, the holidays are a real struggle. SAD exacerbates that struggle.

Exercise becomes more challenging to do. Ironically, while we are less active, we often crave high-calorie comfort foods, which can lead to weight gain, especially when coupled with less activity.

The Good News

There is good news. The older we get, the less like we are to succumb to SAD. SAD is, by definition, temporary. It’s seasonal. Once you recognize that you are susceptible to SAD, you are well on your way to dealing with it.

What You Can Do

Some things you can do are to make sure you get out in whatever light there is as much as you can. Plan a short walk during the day. It’s easier said than done, especially if you live in places that get ice and snow. I have set a routine that I stick to regardless of the weather or the amount of daylight. This time of year, I sometimes take a flashlight on my morning walks. Be grateful for the little things. I love to walk at sunrise. It’s easy to get up before the sun during these months. On a cold winter’s day, if there’s some sun, soak it in. The sun, when there is sun, shines in my bedroom window in the afternoon. I’ll take the opportunity to sit in the sun and meditate, killing two birds with one stone- getting in my meditation time and soaking in the sun. That’s what I’m doing here.

Soaking in the late fall sun and getting in some meditation.

Supplementing with Vitamin D can help with SAD. Our vitamin D levels drop when we get less sunlight. For darker-skinned people, vitamin D year-round isn’t bad. You might need extra vitamin D in the the winter. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a number of  symptoms including feeling tired, joint pain and even hair loss. If you have any questions, see your doctor.

If your SAD is significant, there are lights you can get that mimic sunlight. I used one for a couple of years and found that it helped.

For me, merely knowing that SAD is a real thing helped me significantly. As my energy levels drop in the fall and early winter, I know it’s natural and temporary. I go with it. I sleep in a bit later. I go to bed earlier. I watch my diet. I make sure to keep up my exercise routine. I’ve got December 22nd circled on my calendar. It’s just 61 days away now. The next day, there will be just a few more minutes of daylight, and we will be heading into days with more sun.

 

1 Corinthians 13:12 King James Version (KJV)

12 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.

“Through a glass darkly”; having grown up with the King James Version of the Bible, this is the way I remember this verse. What Paul was talking about was this. Back in his day, a mirror wasn’t made of glass. They used a piece of bronze. The image wasn’t true and bright as a regular mirror would produce. When you looked at yourself, you saw a slightly dull, distorted image. In King James’ time, a mirror was called a glass. Thus, we have this strange language that actually means what Paul was saying is that, on this side of life, we don’t see things clearly.

Sometimes the partition between us, who are in the body and those who have left the body is, called the “veil”. The veil obscures our vision. The Mormon church, I think rightly, refers to this body of flesh as the veil. We think of our senses as reporting to us a true image of all reality. Hardly anything could be further from the truth. Our senses as much a filter of reality as they are reporters.

Our eyes only see a small portion of the light spectrum. Our ears only hear a small portion of the soundwaves that can be produced. We have no idea what we are missing.

Ultraviolet Flowers

This is how a bee sees a flower

Every so often I’ll get a reminder of just how limited our senses are. I was reminded once again when I saw these magnificent images by Craig P. Burrows. They are images of “ordinary” flowers but showing what they would look like if our eyes could see into the ultraviolet range of the light spectrum. This is how a bee sees flowers.

Near Death Experiencers are at a loss for words to describe what they see and hear when they cross over. Some say everything is alive with sound. But, all of the sounds are in harmony. They say there are colors there we have no words for; because we have never seen them. Near Death Experiencers often report that everything is “lit from within”. When I saw these images, I had to wonder if it is something like this. One person I know who has had an NDE did confirm it is similar.

This started me thinking: “What if this world is a lot more like heaven than we think it is? What if the veil is the body? What if our world is bursting with colors we can’t see and sounds we can’t hear?”It’s not that the colors and sounds are not there, it’s just that these bodies aren’t equipped to sense them.

Then, I began to think: “What if those we think are “dead” are still right here, just out of the reach of our limited sense?”

The day I sat down to compose this post, I was speaking with a member of the SoulPhone research team. The team is about to announce the first demonstrations of the first generation device that will detect the presence of “postmaterial persons.”  I saw the room where these “postmaterial” persons sit and interact with the device. These people are completely undetectable by our senses and the vast majority of our equipment. They are around us all the time. We just don’t know it. We see through a glass darkly, indeed.

Photography credit to https://www.cpburrows.com

I’ve really got to use my imagination

To think of good reasons

To keep on keepin’ on (keep on keepin’ on)- Gladys Knight

 

Imagination- what do you think of when you hear that word? My friend Kat Baillie and I had a little debate about this. Kat is an amazing professional medium. For her, imagination is pictures in your mind; only pictures. For me, my imagination extends to all senses. 

The conversation started because I have had mediums tell me they work primarily in a realm where they feel the mediums feel they are imagining what they are getting. Since there are several “clairs,” as the mediums call them, this would be limiting if it were only pictures- that would be clairvoyance. Mediums often work with multiple senses, sight, sound, smells, even just “knowing.” 

Different States of Consciousness

Mediums work in different states of consciousness. I have to say that there are different types of mediumship- mental mediumship, trance mediumship, and physical mediumship, to name three. When I made my comment about how mediums work, I was talking about mental mediums, which are most familiar to most people. However, all mediums are different. They get their information in various ways.

Now, let’s go back to mediums and working in imagination. Imagination, for me, is not limited to pictures at all. For me, in my imagination, I can hear voices. For example, if I’m reading a book by someone I know, I hear the book in their voice. It’s not audible, as if they’re in the room speaking to me. It’s that voice inside my head when I’m thinking; only it’s in their voice. I can imagine how a strawberry tastes. I don’t taste it on my tongue. But, I can recall it. I can imagine I’m eating a strawberry and have the remembrance of the rough seeds and smooth innards on my tongue, the tartness mixed with the sweet.

This is about different levels of consciousness. We are talking about objective versus subjective. When I say “imagination,” I’m referring to something subjective; as in when we have a thought- something we clearly know is “in our head.”

Dreams versus Imagination

As we were talking, we got onto the subject of dreams. I brought it up because the dream state is, for me, beyond imagination. It’s not subjective.

I had had an extremely vivid dream the night before. I had driven downtown. I parked in a garage and was walking somewhere. But, I forgot where I was going and I had no idea where I was. I remember grabbing a light pole next to me because I felt dizzy. I felt the pole in my hand. I felt my feet on the pavement as I rocked back and forth. I could feel pressure in my toes, then heels. In the dream, I was rushing through a doorway; a guy was coming in the other direction. We brushed into each other. I felt him, as our shoulders touched. I heard him tell me to watch where I was going. The dream experience is objective. I felt as if everything was coming in from the outside “real” world. At this point, the dream went lucid. I realized that since I was so dizzy, lost, could barely walk, and had no memory of where I had come from or where I was going; I must be in a dream. However, even when I realized I was dreaming, the dream Brian had no conscious connection with the Brian back in bed. 

When we are imagining, at some level, we are still aware of the connection to our bodies. When we hit the dream level of consciousness, it’s as if our dream self is independent of our physical person. We feel things, we hear, we see, as if with our physical organs.

Where Is the Real Self?

You could say the body is necessary to sustain the dream self. But, the dream person is not aware that the body in the bed exists. When I was in that dream, even when it became lucid to the point I knew I was dreaming, I didn’t know who Brian in the bed was. I knew he existed. But, I couldn’t feel him. Is it possible that we are in a dream state now with our “real selves”, our higher selves safe somewhere while we are here?

To Be Continued

So what? These are just early morning musings, as in something that struck me in bed at 4:44 this morning. Kat and I are going to have a conversation about consciousness and mediumship on my podcast. Maybe we’ll get some more clarity and help people understand how mediumship and consciousness work.

 

Following up on my conversation with my buddy Bill about my faith and Jesus, Bill texted me and hoped our discussion about the “person of Jesus” was meaningful (to me).  Of course, it was meaningful, and I told Bill that. I also reminded him that I was intimately familiar with all of the doctrines he had discussed with me since I was raised Pentecostal from before I could speak, had been evangelical for decades, served in church leadership, taught a Christian fundamentals class at the Vineyard, taught Sunday school, was baptized and spoke in tongues.  Bill replied that it’s not really about doctrine. He said he thought doctrine and other ancillary representations of it had hurt and wounded me over the years and suggested I take a fresh look at the “person of Jesus.”

What struck me is this is precisely what I have been doing. Because of the wounding, I have taken a fresh look at all of the doctrines, including the person of Jesus. The words “Who do you say that I am?” rattle around in my head all the time.  Jesus is still a big part of my life, and I suspect always will be. Over two thousand years since his fleshly life ended, people still struggle with answering that question.

The church tells us it’s all about Jesus. Jesus is our ticket to heaven. All we have to do is “believe” in Jesus, and we’re in. Well, what does it mean to believe in Jesus? Does it mean that we believe he existed as a physical person? Does it mean we believe he is the Son of God? Does it mean we believe he died to save us from our sins? If we do believe that, is it enough to merely assent to that fact? Is belief enough or do we actually have to do something?

As I’ve re-examined Jesus’ words, I realize he never said all we have to do is believe in him. He spoke of doing. He said to take up our cross and follow him, daily. He talked about giving up our lives to save them. He told parables about people who paid lip service but didn’t do what was asked.

Matthew 21:28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 21:29 The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went. 21:30The father went to the other son and said the same thing. This boy answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but did not go.21:31 Which of the two did his father’s will?”

As I have taken a fresh look at Jesus, here is what I see. The belief we are supposed to have is that God/Source, is our father/mother/creator, just like Jesus’. The Christ consciousness that Jesus demonstrated in fullness is available to all of us. Buddhists call this same thing Buddha nature. We all have this innate property because we are all part of the Source. What we are called to do is to live this to its fullest. In this world, that means “crucifying” our base nature that many refer to as the ego. To follow Jesus means to consciously allow the Christ consciousness to flow through us to be the hands and feet of God in this world. We are to make ourselves as pure a channel as we can be to bring the Love of God into the world. We can follow Jesus without ever having heard His story as long as we tap into the consciousness He demonstrated.

Christians talk a lot about salvation, as in us being saved from our sins. They emphasize the goal of accepting Jesus as our “personal Lord and savior.” Then we can rely on the work He has done.  Wait a minute. That’s just the beginning. What about sanctification? What about the work of improving ourselves to become more like the man we claim to follow?

After I got beyond the notion that Jesus had done the work for me and that all there was left for me to do was wait to die and slide into heaven on his work, I realized it doesn’t work that way. My job is to improve my connection. As a Christian, I would pray when I needed something, or I’d say a rote prayer at night or when I was taking a meal. To spend time in daily prayer, really trying to make a connection to Source or my higher consciosness is something I didn’t consider. Now, I’m in meditation 25-30 minutes a day. I continually think about how I can be more “Christ-like” all throughout my day. When I look at other people, I try to see the Christ-nature in each one of them. Some have it masked better than others. But, I know it’s there in all of them. Now that I know Jesus didn’t do it all for me. I’m working on doing the heavy lifting that is necessary to become like Him.

I appreciate my talks with Bill. They prompt me to think deeply, and anything that makes me reflect is a good thing. I don’t want to leave the religion of my youth just because it hurt me. I know there are those who would like me to come back into the fold. I can’t see that happening though. I still follow Jesus, the way I understand Him to be and with I think is a broader perspective on “the person of Jesus.” I agree with Bill. It’s always a good idea to take a fresh look at the person of Jesus.

Today was a good day. It was a balmy 60º in April. Gotta love that. My friend Bill and I went for a walk. We are opposites when it comes to politics. So, we usually avoid that topic. We met at an evangelical church back when I was an evangelical. He’s still attending the church and is a former pastor. So, let’s say our religions don’t exactly line up either. I respect where he is. I think he thinks of me as lost. And, since I’m someone who is lost, it’s his duty as a Christian to get me back into the fold. I respect that. If he didn’t try, it would mean he doesn’t care.

He asked me where Tywana and I are going to church now. He wanted to know if we were still attending the “universalist” church. It’s an understandable mistake. I tell him no. We stopped going to the Unity church. I have more than enough social interaction with friends and neighbors and online. I don’t need church for that anymore. In fact, in the years we attended the Unity church not once did we do anything with anyone outside of the church service. As far as religious instruction, I get that via podcasts and reading. Tywana listens to Super Soul Sunday. When we were in Phoenix, we attended the Unity church there. Tywana listens to their podcasts. So, as far as the functions that church serves, it’s not something we need to get up for on Sunday morning and spend two hours, including drive time, to do.

He moved on to ask me what my relationship with “Christ” is like now. That is one of my pet peeves. Why is it Christians, and I think mostly evangelicals, call Jesus (Yeshua) Christ? They say they know him and they have a personal relationship with him. But, they refer to him by a title. Even worse is “Jesus Christ”. Jesus the Christ would be more accurate. Christ is not his last name. I had to ask

Me: “Bill, why do you refer to Jesus (Yeshua)? as Christ? Christ is a title, it’s not his name.”

Bill: “Christ is the Greek.”

Me: “Yes, Bill, I know, but it’s still not a name.”

Bill: “Christ is Greek for Messiah.”

Me “Yes, but Messiah is also a title. Like your name is Bill.You are a father, you are a husband. Those are titles.”

Finally, he relented. On to the meat of the conversation. I told him I view Jesus as a Master teacher, as an Ascended Master, if you will. I view Jesus as someone who perfected his relationship with God (Source). Jesus was a pure channel. It’s my goal to be like Jesus and become a pure channel for source. I do not view Jesus as the son of God. We are all sons of God. Jesus told us we can do what he did (and greater). He said that Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” Yes. Because Jesus had become so much like the Source (God) that they were inseparable. Bill asked me my source(s) for these conclusions I’ve come to. I explained to him that I have studied a lot of extrabiblical materials. In a previous talk, I tried to refer him to a book that I had read, and he refused me saying that he only needs the Bible as his source. When I brought up today that he had said that, he say that he reads other sources. Anyway, the idea that Jesus is an Ascended Master comes from channeled communications, NDEs and after death communications; all sources Bill would not take as credible.

Then, I got into what I definitely do not believe about Jesus. Jesus did not come to pay the penalty that God was owed for our sins. That is an insane notion. I told Bill that God commands that we forgive seventy times seven. To forgive is not to demand payment. Why would God tell us to forgive when he cannot forgive us? I said if God is love, how could God torment any of his children? Bill explained to me that God is not just love; he is a complex being. Bill explained that sin has consequence and God is also justice and punishment is a part of justice. My eyes rolled so hard, I thought I was going to pass out. OK. Slow down. Sin has consequences. We agree. Natural consequence. Sin damages our relationship with God. OK. I agree with that. But, we’re not talking about natural effects or a damaged relationship. We are talking about torment. I said to him: “If I owe you money, you have a choice. You can demand payment. Or you can forgive the debt. Either is within your rights to do so. Right? You can forgive my debt without demanding payment.” He countered with the relationship between the two of us and the relationship between man, and God is different. Yeah. OK. God is supposed to love me infinitely. So, God is so constrained by his own “godness” that he cannot do what man can do, forgive?

I continued. OK. This brings me to my next point, Bill. God also is demanding a double payment. He looked at me quizzically.  I continued. Jesus paid our debt.  So, let’s say it was a bajillion whatever that’s the cost to cover the whole debt of humanity for all time. God’s got his payment. But, wait. Here I come, and I haven’t “accepted” the payment. God torments me eternally as payment for my sin. But, he’s already been paid. Besides, in what justice system eternal torment for a short lifetime of sin a just payment? I tell him I read many decades ago the answer to the question of how Jesus could have paid billions of lives times eternal torment in just three days in the grave. The author even diagrammed it out how Jesus, being a multi-dimensional being, could simultaneously absorb all of that torment in a finite amount of time. That makes the movie the Passion of the Christ look like a walk in the park.

Things were getting a bit heated now. But, we kept our mutual respect and continued. Bill acknowledged that I had had bad religious experiences as a child and he thought that’s why I’ve rejected my faith now. I admitted I did have bad experiences as a child and that is a huge part of who I am today. He is spot on. I said, the pain of my religious upbringing forced me to look for answers that made sense. When I was about eight years old I wished I had never been born. I was told that I was born with God hating me for my “original sin” and that only Jesus loved me. Only by being “covered in Jesus blood” could God even bear to look at me. It made me feel worthless and ashamed. And I was told I was supposed to love God because he created me. I didn’t ask to be created. Uncreate me. Put me back where I was before. Then, when my uncle was murdered and they told me he was in hell because he hadn’t been saved. But, he couldn’t be saved because he was gay and the church wouldn’t accept him the way he was, that set me over the edge. Up until then I passively accepted this notion of the angry sky God. I was OK because maybe he wouldn’t torment me if I could keep up the charade until I died. But, I couldn’t accept he was sending billions to eternal torment anymore. Yes, Bill, I have rejected the faith of my youth. It would have been easier just to accept I was saved and move on. I was baptized. I spoke in tongues. And, I was taught eternal salvation. I was all good.

It’s when I got outside of the Bible, which is primary, if not exclusive, for people like Bill, that I began to see the big picture. I studied church history. I learned how the Bible was cobbled together. I learned about how the books of the canon were chosen (by men who had a political agenda). I discovered how Constantine early on co-opted and corrupted Christianity. And, I began to read other texts- the Dhammapada, the Bhagavad Gita, the tao de ching. I looked at contemporary sources.

All of this changed how I read the Bible when I came back to it. I see it through new eyes. For example, if God could speak to Paul and John, why can’t he talk to Neale Donald Walsch today? I related to Bill that Paul’s experience on the Road to Damascus sounds just like an NDE. He saw a bright light, he heard a voice from the sky. He was blinded and later regained his site. Bill said “Except Paul didn’t die.” How do we know Paul didn’t die? What we do know is he heard the voice of a dead person (Jesus). Paul was blinded by the light and subsequently ended up with new vision. I told Bill I absolutely believe Paul’s experience. But, you know who else I believe? Michelle Clare who I spoke two days ago who had three similar experiences and came back with messages. Why do you believe Paul’s experience just because it was written down 2,000 years ago and is in your Bible? And, when Paul had his vision where he was taken into the third heaven “Whether it was in the body or out of the body- God knows.” sounds an awful like an astral travel or out of the body experience. Why don’t we believe people who have those experiences today?

For years, I tied myself up in knots and believed things that defy logic and common sense. And, the wilder the thing, the more “faith” you were supposed to have had. I told Bill this to sum up. “You began by asking me about my faith and immediately tied that into Jesus. My faith is stronger than it has ever been. In fact, it’s not even faith anymore. It’s knowing.” I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I like where I am on the road.