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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Resilience

                                                                                     

A few days ago, a co-worker was talking about her Ph.D dissertation which is on the subject of resilience. I offered to let her pick my brain (what’s left of it these days), since it is at the core of what I teach my clients, many of whom have faced major traumas throughout their lives. Her questions were along the lines of: “What makes one person able to overcome such challenges, while others  succumb? ”  and “Can this be taught?”  I had responses to both.  The answer to the second was an emphatic YES!  The answer to the first is a bit more involved.

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Many cultures revere strength…gotta be strong…gotta stand firm, when in reality, flexibility and resilience are equally valuable. Nature provides us with poignant examples. When in the ocean, bending to the waves is less likely to get you knocked on your butt, than standing solid against the water. A willow tree that bends is more likely to withstand the storm than an oak tree that stands firm. I had a first hand experience of that a few years ago. While leaving the grounds of the hospital where I work, to go to lunch, in the midst of a September storm, the wind was whipping furiously. I parked the car by the admissions building to drop off paperwork. Before me was the lovely tree lined driveway where 50-60 foot tall oaks stood sentry. I had this fleeting thought: “Wouldn’t it be something if one of these trees came down?”….BLAM!  No sooner had that image crossed my mind, then one did just that right before my ever widening eyes. I had a few simultaneous thoughts “Thank God no one was coming down the driveway at that moment.”,  and “Holy smokes, what did you do?”  I knew on some level that I didn’t cause the tree to crash earthward, but realizing how tapped in we are all, I did take credit for being aware of the possibilities, at least on an unconscious level. While that tree uprooted itself, more flexible companions remained erect.

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I also told her about Roger Crawford who wrote the book “How High Can You Bounce?” which came into my life several years ago and it is my go-to source for teaching resilience skills. Born with congenital ‘challenges’ such as missing fingers and I believe, his leg from the knee down, Roger became a champion athlete and for the past 25 years has spoken world wide to audiences mesmerized by his passion for life. I love his quote: “Challenges are inevitable, defeat is optional.”  

I have come to understand that the statement:  “Most people do the best they can, given their circumstances.”, is incomplete. Rather, I see that “Most people do the best they are WILLING to do, given their current mindset/attitude/world view.”  Each day, I see folks surpass their former beliefs of what is so and what is possible. Heck, I surprise myself by doing that too. No way, 15 years ago, would I have imagined that I would be doing all that I am at this point in my life, because back then, I was just coasting along, letting life have its way with me, rather than KNOWING that I had the right, responsibility and ability to create my life experience, molding and shaping them from the raw materials I am given each day.

www.rogercrawford.com

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Amnesia Busters

 

                                                                           

My friend Rod is a man who quite simply Lives Love.  I met him about 3 years ago, but it seems like we have known each other for eons. You know that sense of instantaneous recognition of a kindred spirit, or in the Gaelic language ‘anam cara’ or soul friend. It’s a feeling, of  “Oh there you are again.  How long has it been?”  He reminded me that we met via a mutual friend named Rusty Stewart. When I visited his home for the first time, I was also walking into a center that he called A Taste of Heaven. I like to tell the story of my experience there.  The living room had white carpeting and glass topped tables.  “Let me guess, ” I said, “No kids or pets, huh?”  When Rod handed me a glass of freshly brewed ice tea, I asked if it was ok to put it on the glass table top or if he had a coaster he wanted me to use. With twinkling eyes, he responded impishly, “There are no coasters in Heaven.”, and he meant it. On the walls were celestial/etheric looking images that he had painted, many with feathers as paint brush. In his kitchen, he had large glass jugs with affirming words on them such as love, peace and abundance, painted in bright primary colors. He gave me one as a gift to take home with me; such a generous soul he is. As I was looking at one of his paintings, he made a comment about collaborating on it with a friend. One word led to another and somehow I discerned that I also knew this friend, co-artist named Alan Schonfeld. And to add to the delight, it turned out that we were both at a training for Recconnective Healing taught by Dr. Eric Pearl the weekend prior and had missed meeting each other.

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Our friendship grew and I spent many evenings there in the company of other kindred spirits, enjoying pot luck meals, music and massage. Rod’s personal philosophy embraces all, accepts our life experiences as desingned for our highest good and learning and in the face of challenges, he expresses gratitude for what came of it.

I had the joy of a having a wonderful Italian dinner at a sidewalk cafe off of South Street in Philly with Rod last weekend as we talked about ‘life, the universe and everything.’ I had mentioned that I occasionally lapse into Spiritual Amnesia, this sense of forgetting that all is well, all is perfect as is. He acknowledged going to that place as well from time to time and we agree to remind each other to return to that knowingness when we lapsed.

I received an email from him afterward, affirming that we are indeed amnesia busters. What a great job, reminding people of their true identity and beckoning them back onto the path, should they find themselves meandering off. Sign me up!

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Human Spirit

                                                                    

A friend passed along this video link that is an advertisement for Taiwanese TC Bank. It is a beautifully rendered short story in 3:11 seconds about a group of octogenerian men who decided to look aging, illness, loss, grief and physical limitation in the face and laugh right straight at it by takin’ it to the streets, by hittin’ the road and hopping on motorcycles for a cross country road trip.  What an amazing testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the fortitude and determination it takes to hold a dream in the palm of your hand, gaze at at it and then live it full out! I was blown away; tears and goosebumps coming forth as I considered what it took for these guys to get up off the pity pot on which they may have been sitting and train (which the ad shows them doing) in preparation for the journey. Although flashes of earlier times in their lives together are part of the montage, I didn’t get the sense that they were simply re-living their youth, but rather re-inventing themselves anew; transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, indeed.

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It is tempting to fall into a ‘poor me’ mode when things don’t go the way we want them to, or when we are faced with challenges and crises of faith. What I discover daily is how resilient we all can be if we feel we have a purpose, a passion, a desire to do something meaningful. Now, these ‘biker dudes'; these Dream Rangers didn’t do anything dramatically world altering, and yet they did, at the same time, since they are now living examples of what is possible if you put your heart and soul into what you do. Positively empowered people are a greater force for good in the world.

So, what’s your dream and how ya gonna live it, full out?

http://youtu.be/vksdBSVAM6g

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Mantra Pop

    

Robin Renee is a merging of sound and soul, East and West, earthly and ethereal, just like her music. I have attended kirtans at which she has made offerings to the Divine in the form of chanting and percussive infusions and her style is both fun/funkified and reverential, that even the novice to this art form, can’t help but sing along.

How do you live your Bliss?

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I feel like I am on a journey of moving continually closer to living my Bliss.  I don’t exactly think I always have it right, but I suppose that is the human condition.  Living in Bliss is about noticing- paying attention to those moments when I feel out of step with being in love with life and making the little correction right there, so I stay honest about where my truest happiness lies.  Bliss happens for me when I am lost in dancing.  Bliss comes while I’m chanting.  I find it when I create a personal retreat and enter into deep silence.  Bliss can happen when I am engrossed somewhere in the center of a new poem or song.  Whenever I am somewhere I can run naked in the sun, I am blissful and feeling profoundly connected to Spirit.   

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 How did music discover you as an instrument for its expression?

I don’t think music had much trouble finding me.  I grew up with a piano in the house and naturally gravitated toward it.  When my parents noticed, they thought piano lessons would be a good idea.  I started playing at age 7, and my first song followed fairly shortly after that (It was a little tune about Billie Jean King).  I started a band when I was about 10 years old, and pretty much haven’t stopped since.  I have really come to appreciate the support of my parents around music. My mom had a real appreciation for lyrics—Bob Dylan especially, and I am grateful for having had that influence.      

You call your music style ‘Mantra-Pop’. How did you come to use that term and what does it mean to you?

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The short answer is that Mantra-Pop is a simple way of answering the perpetual question, “What kind of music do you do?”  The media and people in general tend to like a simple description.  I don’t really resist labels; I am happy to find (or create) words that have some resonance with what is going on in my work. 

The more complex answer is that when kirtan chanting became an incredibly important part of my spiritual path, there was a long while in which I immersed myself in it completely.  I listened almost exclusively to mantra, and had no real desire or even ability to write songs in the way I had since the beginning.  When the experience of the chanting began to become a more integrated experience, I noticed that the songwriter part and the kirtan chanter part needed to coexist and flourish together in some way.  Telling the stories of the emotions and life experiences showed up as very much still part of my path, along with this new way of connecting to Divine energy directly through music.  Some of my songs began to blend the two.  ‘Mantra-Pop’ became the shorthand I use to describe all my music – whether or not any particular song features chanting.  Everything that I am and do is spiritual, so all the music must hold that connection and intention.   

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Since we know that they aren’t mutually exclusive, how do spirituality and sexuality merge in your work?

My spiritual practices, music, and sexuality are all part of the same river, all channels through which I experience the energy of Oneness, the Divine, God/Goddess, whichever term you prefer.  I really wanted to speak to this recognition when I put out the compilation CD, so I called it spirit.rocks.sexy.  When it was released, I did some writing about how that title came to be and said “So much of what I do, who I am, who I’ve been and am becoming lies at the intersection of spirit.rocks.sexy. The Divine is music is erotic is utterly holy.”  I try to neither shy from nor obsess about sexuality in my work, and the same winds up being true of spirituality.  By just giving myself permission to write and sing what shows up, sex and spirit are naturally part of the mix. 

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How does music speak to you and how do you then translate what you hear into what so delights your listeners?

I most often just hear it- words, music, or both- in the midst of my day.  I jot something down, record a bit of a melody or an idea in the memo pad on my cell phone, or whatever I can do to capture the idea in the moment.  Then I come back to those things later when a combination of the craft of songwriting and what feels like continuing to channel the song’s essence come together.  I love the recording aspect.  It feels like sculpting.  In regard to delighting listeners, I mostly move toward what is sonically pleasing to me, and hope other people agree!   

Who are your musical inspirations?

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There are many.  In terms of overall genres, new wave, punk, and the classic singer-songwriter stuff continues to hold the most enduring place in my heart.  A few of my favorite artists are Steve Forbert, Steely Dan, Elvis Costello, Joan Armatrading, Gary Wilson, and Devo.  I’ve been immersed in an electronica feel lately- Imogen Heap and Mantra Girl are in heavy rotation.  George Harrison is a spiritual inspiration most of all, but it is the placing of his spirituality so clearly present in rock and pop that was so important.

If you could live your ‘rock star dream’, what would it look like?

I have many, many details in my head about the expanded multimedia stage show and other aspects I’d like to manifest.  I would be on the road with the full band productions, with enough time off in the year for rest and writing.  I’d follow the sun.  I’d have a wide audience, though a specific one that really ‘gets’ the blend of music, sexuality, and spirit that drives my work.  For a long time, I’ve had a very strong feeling that I should be famous in Sweden .  I have no idea why, but it is a thought that shows up for me fairly often.  With my extra money, I’d help people to have food, shelter, and art in their lives.  I’d probably establish an alternative lifestyles spiritual retreat center.  During my downtime, I’d find a city where I wouldn’t be bothered by fans and I’d walk for miles.   I could go on with this vision, but I’ll stop here (just before driving off in my custom-painted deep purple Honda to join my brilliant, gorgeous, conscious friends in the hot tub). 

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www.robinrenee.com

 http://www.youtube.com/RobinReneeTV?feature=mhum#p/c/94BFF4533ADFA32F/2/DzFaurC2rs4

www.cdbaby.com/cd/robinrenee

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