The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Let The Beauty We Love

                                                   

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty

and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study

and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground

-Rumi

One of my favorite ecstatic poets whose writing touches my soul, reached out to me a while back at a kirtan with Suzanne Sterling and friends. This was a portion of what turned out to be a beyond belief (literally) weekend in which over and over, I was called on to surrender what no longer served or impeded growth and love and to call in what I most desire in all areas of life.

It began when, along with 12 or so other WWWW (Wise Wild Wonderful Woman), I sat in circle, offering music, drumming, words, fire and intention at our monthly full moon Goddess gathering. I have known many of the participants for several years and some are new to my life. All are powerful in their own right . In their presence, I feel creatively inspired. When we parted company until the next month, having also indulged in decadent delights, including sushi and chocolate (two of my favorite food groups:) I allowed the car to take me home on auto pilot.

The next day, I attended a workshop offered by Dr. Darren Weissman, who is based in the Chicago area, who spoke on one of my favorite subjects….Infinite Love and Gratitude. He came upon the realization of the healing property of those words, along with the sign language symbol for “I Love You” and uses them as mantra and mudra combined.

Darren describes how those three concepts coalesce:

Infinite means “the universe” or “the collective conscious,” which has no beginning or end.

  • Love is the universal power that propels life, fueling your will and enabling you to face and overcome challenges.
  • Gratitude empowers you to go through life without judgment. You see the value of any experience (even situations you may have once perceived as “bad”) as an opportunity, rather than being a victim of circumstance

Part of the admission price for the workshop included a copy of his book, entitled The Power of Infinite Love & Gratitude. By the time I got there, the copies had been allocated and I was told that I would receive mine in the mail, unless someone didn’t show up who had ordered a copy. At that moment, I had set intention for leaving there with a book and then I set aside the thought and enjoyed the workshop, allowing for doing some compassionate healing work for myself through the use of what Darren calls The Lifeline Technique™ into which he incorporates the I, L & G concept. The idea is offer that energy to yourself, another, the planet…. and also to the parts of ourselves that we may have disenfranchised, such as reciting “infinite love and gratitude to the part of me that fears loving and losing again.”

At the close of the workshop, a drawing was held to win a DVD series that introduces the work, a $500 value. “Pretty cool, I thought…I would love to have that to further my exploration into these ideas that I had begun to use with my patients and myself.” Like the other people in the room, I put my slip into the basket and then walked out into the lobby to talk to someone. A moment, later, Darren asked, “Is Edie still here?” Guess who won?

Another cosmic coincidence…while there, I was talking about my friend Lisa Balter whom I hadn’t seen in months. She lives not far from where I was. A short while later, I stopped at Whole Foods and who should be behind me in the checkout line?

So, back to the kirtan…. what drew me there to enjoy the rockingly angelic voice of yoga teacher, kirtan artist, Suzanne Sterling was my friend Brittany who, along with Seane Corn and Hala Khouri and other devoted volunteers traveled to Cambodia to do Seva (service work) with the organization called Off The Mat Into The World. I had gone to Brittany’s home recently and she mentioned that this spiritual song-bird would be coming to the area. I felt inexorably drawn to hear her, and with 25 or so others, to sing and dance along with her. Talk about ecstasy! She opened with encouraging us on this evening of the full moon to release whatever it was from which we chose to unburden ourselves and welcome in our heart’s desires….sensing a theme here? The Goddesses Kali and Durga are about wiping clean all that no longer serves as well as fierce love and compassion and the first chant honored them. Once the room was sufficiently swept clean of those energies, we invoked the names of Sita and Ram, emanations of the Divine feminine and Divine masculine as means of allowing love in.

The evening ebbed and flowed with soft sweetness and intensely powerful movement. I found myself enraptured, getting lost in the sound and feeling reverberation that seemed to burrow into my chest. Swaying, reaching skyward, undulating, stretching, curling inward, I was danced by the music, such was the call to surrender. At the end, I found myself feeling as if I was, as I have heard it said, “drenched in the nectar of the Divine.’” and then Suzanne sang the words to the poem that began this story. I felt the tears come, without conscious invitation, but arriving even so.

On this weekend of a full moon; “auspicious” is what Suzanne called it, the Gods and Goddesses were properly honored, whether it was in the living room of a friend, a holistic center or yoga studio or under a starry sky as the gusting wind blew me to my car and carried my heart into the heavens.

Namaste ~

www.infiniteloveandgratitude.com

www.suzannesterling.com

www.offthematintotheworld.org

Darshan

 

 

                                                          

 

A few years ago, I had an experience that I had anticipated for weeks and a few that I had not expected as a result. After receiving several emails and fliers, I ventured into Philadelphia to be in the presence of an esteemed teacher from India called Amma, which in the Telugu language (one of many spoken in India), means Divine Mother. She is also known by her given name Sri Karunamayi and is considered an incarnation of the Divine feminine emanation. Having heard from friends that they witnessed a sense of unconditional love while with her, I felt called to have a first hand understanding of the energy. I knew that magic would accompany those in the gathering.

I arrived early, had dinner at an Indian restaurant near International House where the evening’s festivities were to be held and after I was comfortably fed, I walked a block or so to where my car was parked, to feed the meter. A man stood a few feet from my car and asked me how far it was to Broad Street. At the time, we were near the corner of 37th and Chestnut Streets, so he had at least 23 blocks to go. His ultimate destination was a shelter in a town a good distance away. He was homeless and early on in the conversation informed me that he had AIDS, but that I shouldn’t worry because I wouldn’t catch it by simply speaking with him. I assured him that I knew that and had no worries. He had come to Philadelphia to get food and work in a restaurant called The White Dog Café, owned by Judy Wick, a woman well known for her compassion and social activism. He wasn’t looking forward to walking the miles it would take to arrive at the shelter. I felt moved to ask him if he knew what bus fare would cost. He informed me that it was $5.75. Immediately I reached into my wallet and handed him the fare and few dollars more, which was pretty much what I had left. I felt no fear or hesitation. He smiled, thanked me and said, “At least you’re from this planet. A police officer that I asked for directions actually covered his mouth when he spoke with me.” Off he headed down Chestnut Street to catch his bus. That interaction had been natural and easy compared to what awaited me.

I walked into International House, which was slowly beginning to fill with people eagerly awaiting Amma’s presentation. I stood by a table bearing incense, cards, books, tapes and jewelry. As I was perusing the wares, a man stood next to me. From a few feet away, I caught the aroma of stale sweat, as if he and his clothing had not been touched by soap for quite awhile. I politely took a few steps away. He casually followed me. A few minutes later, I walked into the auditorium and sat next to a friend and co-worker who I met there. It seems that she and I were about to have a shared experience that we spoke about at work today. The man entered and sat down, across the aisle, one row in front of me, still in sensory range. I rolled my eyes depreciatively and thought, “How am I going to enjoy this experience?” I’m not proud of these thoughts, but I am recording them as they arose. As Amma spoke, her words were about love, compassion, service and seeing the Divine in all beings. My judgments about this man began to dissolve like sugar in water. I could still smell the strong aroma emanating from him, but instead of disdain, I felt a sense of acceptance. I meditated throughout much of the 3 hours there, focusing as much attention as I could on breathing and being.

After the presentation, she offered darshan which translates as “vision”, “visit”, “meeting”, “sight”, “seeing” or “beholding”. It’s a blessing given by a spiritual teacher and as people lined up to receive it with a touch on the third eye with a substance called vibhutti or ash that is observed to have healing properties, guess who was standing right behind me? My teacher for the evening. The most amazing thing was that I could no longer smell an unpleasant scent…only the delightful fragrance of incense.

I had been called on to live Divine Mother’s example and moved through the lesson with less grace than I had hoped for, but more humility than I could have imagined. For that I am grateful.

 Om Shanti….

www.karunamayi.org    

http://youtu.be/WjMgLoNvr0g

Dear Woman

As a woman in the 5th decade of life, I have witnessed The Women’s Rights Movement, the defeat of the  ERA (Equal Rights Ammendment) for the silly reason that uneducated people believed it would mean co-ed bathrooms. I have heard and read about female genital mutilation, rape to control and punish women in various cultures. I have seen the results of sexual assault as a therapist/social worker who counsels survivors of said traumas. I have observed the subservience of women in the guise of misogynistic spiritual beliefs. I have, with deep sadness, seen the impact of disregard for the Earth as Mother. We all pay the price for that.

AND I am heartened by a trend…that of men stepping forward and apologizing for what their gender has done, whether of not they have ever committed any of the aforementioned acts. The Divine Masculine is coming face to face with the Divine Feminine as together, we do the graceful dance of love and life.

A video called Dear Woman was created by author and speaker Gay Hendricks and author and awakening coach Arjuna Ardagh. It is a profoundly humble and bold form of communication that reaches beyond gender stereotype and into the heart of humanity. As I watched it, I experienced goosebumps and tears and it resonated as truth. Although I can’t speak for all women, for myself, I gratefully accept the offerings made by the men in the video.

Watch the video and I encourage you to take it to heart, whichever gender you happen to be.

http://youtu.be/K_uRIMUBnvw

Talk To Me Like I’m Someone You Love

What if you had at the ready, a portable tool that could succintly express in writing what you might not be able to say verbally and could have a powerful healing impact on any relationship? In the midst of a heated discussion with a loved one, there are times when we are not at our most eloquent and words slip out that in calmer moments would not escape our lips. Psychotherapist and wordsmith, Nancy Dreyfus, Psy. D has compiled such a guide to healthy interactions, brilliantly entitled: Talk To Me Like I’m Someone You Love: Relationship Repair In A Flash. Having said that, please note that by purchasing this book or giving it to someone in your life, it in no way indicates that the relationship is on the rocks. It has preventive power as well. Just knowing that it is present could have a reassuring effect. Talk To Me Like I’m Someone You Love would make a great wedding or anniversary gift as well as an everyday portable relationship tool.

As a Licensed Social Worker, I have used the ideas from the book in therapeutic sessions with clients and have found them wonderfully successful in calming even the angriest couples. I also incorporate the concepts in my personal interactions and marvel at the results.

The book was born when in a session with a couple, Dreyfus found herself experiencing a sense of counter-transference. It began to feel like she was re-living the dynamics of her family of origin. In a flash, she scribbled the 8 words that became the book’s primary title, handed it to the man and whispered for him to hold it up to his wife who, at that moment, was berating him. It was as if time stood still and their interaction shifted to one that was more healing. Over the course of the next two decades, this book took shape and Dreyfus’ accumulated wisdom, gleaned from work with other couples, is now in the 285 pages of text with a few pages in the back on which to write messages in addition to what she offers. There are more than 100 ‘flashcard’ messages that can move through the heart of the matter in nearly every potential conflict, as well as Dreyfus’ commentary on each subject. These include:

“When you go on and on like that, I feel invisible to you.”

“Even though I’ve been arguing my position like a crazy person, I can see where your point of view makes sense.”

“What can I say that would make you feel understood?”

“I’m sorry if I acted like mine was the only reality.”

“I treasure you.”

The value in the book goes beyond the words themselves to the way in which it is to be used. In her practice, Dreyfus has discovered that vocalizing words can carry an emotional charge that simply reading them does not. There is no voice intonation, no chance to misinterpret when words are read and not said. Couples are encouraged to have the book handy to use as needed. Granted, it is not the same as sitting in the presence of this gifted therapist, but it is the next best thing to having her in your home.

I love the attitude Dreyfus speaks about with regard to the value of an open heart vs. a closed heart. She writes, “the only difference between an open heart and a closed one is that an open heart has opened only one more time than it’s closed…..only one more time.” This poignant and powerful book will ensure that hearts in your house will open much more quickly

www.nancydreyfus.com

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