Monday, December 27, 2010


It feels important to write about this today.  When I write, I am able to gain more clarity for myself, and for some reason now is the time to examine 'suffering' just a bit.

There are two kinds of suffering: 'legitimate' and 'non-legitimate'.  As human beings we experience both, but we often don't know the difference.  I know I didn't - until I did.  And each type of suffering must be dealt with differently, to truly be resolved. With legitimate suffering, you recognize it for what it is, 'have it', take care of the symptoms, and take action toward physical healing/change.  With non-legitimate suffering, you recognize it for what it is, apply forgiveness, and identify underlying issues and clear them.  Physical healing/change then happens, as a result.  Let me give some examples to explain what I mean.

Recently, a good friend of mine had gout in his foot. He said how painful it was, and how extremely frustrating too, because he'd just begun a vigorous exercise routine to try to lose some weight.  Now, he couldn't exercise, which would also have helped his gout to heal.  He was in such a double bind.  As he shared with me, I recalled when I'd also had gout years ago, in my right knee.  It hurt.  Nothing I did with either traditional or alternative medicine seemed to help.

I was more naive then in the ways of understanding how 'we create our own reality', consciously and/or unconsciously.  As I suffered from the pain in my knee (legitimate), I also suffered (non-legitimate) in the feelings of shame and guilt.  As the result of my own fledgling studies, I believed that we each have a part in creating our own circumstances and experiences in life.  I applied this principle incorrectly, however, when I blamed myself for creating my own painful gout, for which I'd found no relief.  My 'New Age' friends drilled my blame even deeper with their comments of how I wouldn't be in so much pain if I had identified and cleared the issues that had created my condition.  Their words were of blame only, not helpful in any way. There was no compassion, only judgment and accusation.  I felt wracked with thoughts  (non-legitamate pain) of: "I should have know better", and "I should be able to heal myself", and "Why haven't I already taken care of the problem".  The most difficult thought for me was, "If I have caused this myself, I must have 'wanted' it.  Thereby, I must be a person who deserves no sympathy, no kindness, no compassion.  No, not for me."  Hopelessness reigned

Forgiveness was needed, and compassion - for myself, and for others.  Without full understanding of a principle, a little knowledge can do more harm than good, especially when applied with an air of judgment.  I had indeed been looking within myself to find possible connections with old personal issues that might show up as gout in my knee, but I was unclear.  .

At this point, gratefully, the awareness began.  Did I want the pain?  No, of course not. Nobody does. But on another level, I want learning, awareness, and understanding - the kind that only having pain can yield.  Pain is my teacher in that way.  With intention, pain can help bring to light much that has been hidden away in the realms of the subconscious.  In my case, I came to the awareness of a neediness I'd been struggling without knowing it.  As I hobbled around with a sore knee, 'being so brave', the reactions I received from family and friends were often expressions of sympathy.  There was a power in gaining attention and the sympathies of others. Having that gout in my knee had 'perks'.  I got sympathy, a sense of power, and attention which I mistook for love.  Those 'perks' helped fill a neediness within me, because I didn't yet know how to fill it myself.  The results weren't totally safisfying, but it was at least 'something'.  Now that those personal issues of 'neediness' or more clear, and I've found true personal power and love, the need is filled and the neediness has disappeared. 'Need' is one thing.  As human beings, we all have needs.  But 'neediness' is something else.  That's issue-based.

Years have passed since that time.  I was able to apply forgiveness  - to myself for harboring self-punishing thoughts and judgments, and to others as well.  I took care of my symptoms, and continued in my internal investigation of where metaphors might show what had helped create the gout in my knee in the first place.  Healing happened, the gout disappeared, and has not returned to this day.  Looking back, I see that I learned much from that whole process.  I had to forgive myself first, and then I could better focus on caring for my physical symptoms.  Then, and only then, could I really look at causative issues.

As my life continues, I see that some issues are more 'core' than others, showing up more frequently and in different ways.  Many issues seem to manifest themselves as physical illness, and for that I am grateful because the body is such a good messenger.  When there is a physical malady connected with a persona issue (or two...), it's easier to connect the two and actually work to clear the issue itself with so many of the 'issue-clearing' tools available in our world right now. 

The first thing I do nowadays when I find myself in suffering is to acknowledge the pain itself.  "It hurts".  And to really look at it - 'Have it', if you will.  As I do that, I am better able to see what to do next.  And too, then the legitimate aspects of the pain run their course better, and sometimes I need to nothing but care for myself as best I can in the process.  Then I ask, "What parts are 'legitimate', and which parts might be 'non-legitimate' (or, issue-based).  Then, before I even begin any investigation into issues, I forgive myself first, knowing we each do the best we can in any circumstance, at any moment  Only then do I investigate issues I might have been unaware of.  For help in the process, I ask a higher source than my own intellect and understanding for more clear sight, understanding, courage, and for patience.  (I have such a tendency to want to have all the answers right now!  No crystal ball here, that's for sure.)

I must admit, that to see more clearly those connections between my own actions and what's happening in my body (and other life experiences), I must consciously access that quiet inside and really listen, with humility, knowing that I may now really 'know'.  Answers come only within that quiet.  When judgement, doubt, even conclusions happen, they must be banished.  Only in a void can that still, small, hint of a 'voice' be heard.  When I follow that, the 'non-legitimate' suffering vanishes completely, I'm better able to care for myself in the 'legitimate' suffering, ease the symptoms, and my body is much more supported in a healing process.  Interestingly, I've found that 'legitimate' suffering is also easier to bear at the time, and there is more learning from it, afterward.  With legitimate suffering, I can now better allow the attending emotions to flow through, consciously breathing to help them on their way, and eventually the situation resolves itself , becoming a memory only.  Clarity ensues.  And peace.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rare quiet moment

I sat for a bit this morning, cuddling my little dog on my lap.  I know she's not a cat, but I could almost hear her purring.  It was a rare moment, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  I had to consciously give myself permission to just turn off the 'buzz' though, and just sit.  So much to be done.  I'm reminded of the old refrigerator my mother had when I was growing up.  It was small, and always stuffed to overflowing.  My mother often moaned, "How I wish I had a larger refrigerator!"  And then she'd clean it out again, and rearrange the things inside, hoping to make a bit more room.

It was just a few years ago that my mother finally got her new refrigerator.  All 5 of her children are grown and gone, but she has company over for family dinners, with grandchildren in and out all the time.  The new refrigerator was a gift from my sister and her husband.  And it is big, and beautiful, with plenty of room.  But it's stuffed full too.  Not one inch to spare.  Somehow the 'things' grew to meet the larger capacity. 

So too is life, I think.  Or so it seems.  This last week my days have been stuffed full of 'things' to do, with no end in sight.  Car repairs, medical bill arrangements (including hours on the phone), clearing out more of the clothes that are now too large for me to wear, physical therapy, sewing up a couple of Christmas presents, wrapping others, making holiday yummies, eating too many sweets and then remembering why I shouldn't do that 'cuz I feel so yucky after.  On and on.  And I forget to just sit still, hold my little doggie, and breathe.  Just breathe and relax for a moment.  And then I say to myself, "Oh yeah, now I remember.  Life is more than all that doing."  I know it with my head, but I forget to 'connect' with it sometimes.  Don't we all.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hot tea, and a toasty waterbottle

I'm an icicle.  At least, that what my body seems to think.  Ever since my heart surgeries I've noticed that my body is reacting differently in so many ways, and temperature regulation is one of them.  I've always been a 'hot one' up until now - warm hands, warm feet, very few blankets needed to cover me at night.  In the winter, when I ride in the car, I've always had a tendency to steam up the inside of the windows so much that we have to turn the defroster way up, or even open the windows so we see out of the windows.  Actually, that still happens.  But warm hands, warm feet?  Not hardly.  They're icicles.  I have to be careful and refrain from touching someone else's skin without giving them a 'head's up' first, so they won't be shocked by the coldness of my fingers. 

I still don't need many blankets to cover me at night, but I must have a hot water bottle by my feet when I go to sleep.  And I've given in, tucking my hands all the way down under the covers to keep them warm, rather than hanging them outside the covers as I used to.  I put mittens and a coat on before I venture outdoors, where I used to have no hesitation about braving the freezing temperatures without anything but shirtsleeves. 

Inside, I've been wrapping a blanket around my feet and legs whenever I sit.  And I keep an extra vest or sweater handy.  It will be interesting to see how long this lasts.  Temporary?  I don't know.  In the meantime, gimme that hot tea!  I wrap my fingers around that steaming mug and get myself all warmed up inside, and out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Who would have thought

Well, I found myself in Church again yesterday.  For so many years I have not attended regularly, if at all, even though my childhood, youth, and most of my 'raising family' years included Church attendance at least every Sunday.  It was such a regular part of my life.  There is no analytical reason for my return now except that it's time, for importat reasons.  I am in a different 'place' in my life's path now.  Much of that has to do with the fact of my early experience found within the walls of Church, and church sponsored activites. But even my learnings begun in church, have gone beyond the confines of those walls, and are limited by them no longer.  Now somehow, I am not choosing my actions now, in the traditional sense.  In an odd way, it seems that my actions are choosing me.  I follow along, and my actions are more and more part of a larger blueprint, not known to me.

In my life, Church participation, and just the fact of 'Church' itself, has provided me with some of my greatest experience.  I've learned a lot - not only 'in' church, but 'because of it'.  Many others have shared their own experience with me, and how 'church' has affected them in their lives.  I watch as each person makes life choices according to their individual experience and perspective.  Some choices are similar, some are WAY different, even based on what seems to be similar circumstances.

I ponder about my return to Church after all this time.  I too have had so much similar experiece as many of  those who have shared theirs with me.  And I also have a deep and abiding appreciation for all that 'church' has provided for me in my life, on so many different levels.  I am at peace in that.  And being more at peace, period, means I am more 'present'.  A good friend of mine describes this as being more like a ball, gently bogging up and down on the waves of a river, rather than being bounced around in a pinball machine, in constant reaction to pushes and shoves happening.

At this point, it seems that the 'I' of me is not making the choice to attend and participate.  Again, it's more of that 'listen and follow' process. As a result, over the past while, when the clock on the wall of my kitchen said it was 'Churh time', that's where I've found myself to be.  There is more to be had now it seems - both in experience and in learning.  As Ecclesistes 3:1 in the Bible it says, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."  I love that scripture.  It says so much.

As I think about it, many of my doings today, my choices of action, seem to be based on a choice I made long ago, to surrender.  I know, that's a potent word, but it fits because I was fighting hard at that time.  I didn't want to 'give in', and better yet, 'give up'. Yet when I truly surrendered, and let go of my feverish clutches on the things I thought I wanted, what I REALLY wanted began flowing into my life.  Letting go is  hard, I admit. But I found it made it much easier for me to let go, as I released into the holding of a higher, larger power - a power beyond all that I knew as my own, smaller 'self'.  Surrendering in this way I felt such peace, such relief, and such fulfillment.  I wondered why I hadn't ever done it before, even though, at the same moment, I kinda knew.  Fear, just fear.  That's all.

I still have fear in my life, but fear doesn't 'run' my life as it used to.  When I notice fear is present, I can usually say, "Oh, there's fear present now."  Then I either act anyway, in the face of the fear, look at it to see if there's something to learn from it, or see if there's something I'm avoiding, and why.  Those, among other things. It's a great trigger, however uncomfortable it is in the moment.  Sometimes, I can even transform the energy of that same fear into energy I need right then to help push me forward into doing the very thing I fear, thereby learning an even larger lesson.  Or at least, having a decidedly larger experience.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The white marble Hall

As I exersized on the treadmill at Physical Therapy, one of the attending Therapists said, "Gwyn, meet Bob.  Bob, meet Gwyn", and then left us to our exercising.  Bob told me of his heart survival experience back in April of this year, and how he's grateful to have been "retrieved from the grave".  Really.  He was even in a medically induced coma for three days.  During that time, he had a near death experience, which he shared with me.  I was delighted to hear, for I've had several similar experiences of my own.

When he got to the part about the Hall of white marbles, seeminly roofless, with tall pillars lining the sides, I suddenly interrupted with, "I've been there too!"  I noticed that the three Therapists across the room perked up their ears, and got quiet, listening to Bob and I share our stories with eachother.  Bob told of the black urns along the sides with gold leaves, and the light he saw at the end of a tunnel on the side.  I remember the urns, but not as vividly as he did.  I didn't see the tunnel of light he saw.  But, one of the three times I remember being in the Hall, I saw a table, with a big, thick, book on it.  Bob didn't see that.  So our experiences had different aspects, as well as very similar ones.  It was a great sharing indeed.  I've shared a number of my stories with others, but I've never had such validation about the very first time I found myself standing within that Hall as I did as Bob shared his experience with me.  So very similar.

One more thing.  And possibly, even more amazing.  At home that evening, I told Marcia (roommate & shirt-tail cousin) of my experiences of the day, including that wonderful conversation with Bob.  When I told of the Hall of white marble (large 'room' actually, rather than long like a 'hall' I've understood), Marcia got quite pensive.  When I was finished, she looked at me and said, "Gwyn, I recognize that place.  I must have had my own experience, without realizing it before."  And Marcia said that she has not had her 'Great Hall of White' experience triggered by anything in particular, as far as she could tell.  We shared back and forth for awhile, enjoying it immensely.

Three totally different people, different circumstances to be sure, but three very similar experiences.  I just makes me wonder.  How many more of 'us' are there?  Is there 'common experience' that links us all in ways we have not yet even fathomed?  Hmmm.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The time foretold to me

Well, this past week was an example of the time foretold to me by those who know the process of physical healing, and how it seems to happen that we become involved so thoroughly with the busy-ness of our lives once again.  Since 12 days ago, just before Thanksgiving, my days have begun each morning with the certain feeling of "On your mark, Get set, Go!"  Each day.  Even the days that have included some marvelous 'laid back and relaxing' time, such as being with dear friends Thanksgiving day, and enjoying sweet conversation and association all through the afternoon and evening  And of course, the daily 'healing naps' seem to be now a thing of the past.

Oh my.  Life seems to be proceeding right along, with so many different levels of experience, all happening at the very same time.  In a moment of 'doing', feeling also happens for me, and consciousness (or lack of), and sparks for evaluation, even learning, and mental processing in a later moment. It's really quite remarkable.  It's as if there is a larger blueprint that life itself is following, undeterred, with each individual person as participant only.  I think of how cocky I've been in the past, with thoughts that my life's experience was so individual, more than just 'unique', and so 'special' in many ways.  Or at least, I wanted to feel like it was.  All along, there was a quality of 'alone-ness'.  I felt alone - in not a 'good way' (as was said to me by an American Indian medicine woman I was privileged to study with in the past.)  For in each experience of 'special-ness' loneliness hides, even thrives.  I realize that so much of my life has been spent wanting to feel a sort of special-ness, because I didn't feel a needed feeling of being 'good enough'.  At the very same time, I struggled with a (usually subconscious) sense of alone-ness filled with loneliness, that I could not voice.

I'm noticing that the physical change that I've been blessed with of late (open heart surgery, and 2 other electrical 'fixes' made to my physical heart 3 weeks afterward), have helped my 'spiritual' heart become more clear.  Others in my life tell me they see changes in my personality.  I experience the change myself daily, in my different ways of doing things, and as my experience itself of 'the same 'ol world' changes, often moment by moment.  My life is a miracle daily.

I appreciate the definition I have become acquainted with of, "Miracle - something that happens in our lives in which God remains anonymous."

Each day, I go more and more surely in the doings of the day by the method of 'listen and follow'.  I do my best to listen to that voice that is of the highest Source, whispering within, and to follow it's lead.  All I have to do is see what the action is that is directly before me to be done - right if front of my toes, if you will.  And then do.  More than ever, I experience myself as the 'human being' - rather than that 'human doing'. Identifying as being a 'human doing' is the net of false hope that we get so easily caught (entrapped?) into, losing more and more a sense of who we really are.  For me, I'm finding that the most simple, and the most rewarding of ways to 'do life' is by intentionally being human, in the best sense of the word.  (And as I 'listen and follow', my human 'doings' become easy.)  In living life this way, there is all the relaxation, rejuvenation, and 'specialness' that that my heart could ever wish for.  Alone-ness?  In a way, yes, for we each have our own walk on the path.  But loneliness in that walking?  Not at all.

Sample text