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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Whose Life Is It Anyway?

I have long been fascinated with the concept of reincarnation since reading the book The Search For Bridey Murphy, written by Morey Bernstein. It tells the story of a woman in the 1950’s, who, under hypnosis is regressed back to a lifetime in Ireland in the 1800’s. Whether or not it is true, is immaterial. It drew me to explore further into the possibility that I had lived in other places at various times in history.

In the 1980’s, I was introduced to the pioneering work of Dr. Brian Weiss, a Columbia University and Yale Medical School educated psychiatrist who inadvertently found himself utilizing regression to assist patients with otherwise intractable symptomology. I had the pleasure of interviewing him initially for my own magazine called Visions in 1990 and then for Wisdom Magazine several years later.

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Fast forward to 2016  and I find myself in a room with a group of others who are also enthralled, or at least curious about the topic and want to venture into the waters themselves. The Past Life Regression workshop was facilitated by Jessica Brown Ramirez, Caryn Benevento-Munroe and Erin Muldoon Stetson. The three women with diverse backgrounds had met at a training that Brian Weiss offered at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York. They felt certain that they too had traveled around the block a few times together prior to this encounter, so they joined forces to teach.
 The workshop included EFT-Emotional Freedom Technique, which is a modality that involves tapping on certain points on the body to release long held patterns and beliefs. It was described as being like acupuncture without the needles.

Another component was psychometry, in which we were invited to hold an object owned by another person in the class who we didn’t know (lest it muddy the waters) and tell that person our impressions that arose. The woman I worked with had a pearl ring she asked me to use. I was able to evoke messages and guidance that addressed issues she was facing and life changes she was making. When she held an earring of mine, she too came up with powerful phrases and images that spoke to my own transitions.

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The next portion of the day incorporated a few meditations for healing and regressions into three past lives and one future life. Following each one, we were asked to journal about the experience and note the lessons learned.

In the initial journey, I was a 10 year old girl playing on the beach under the watchful eye of her father. When asked what year it was, my first thought was 1973. My logical mind questioned how this could be, since I was born in 1958. I remembered hearing (and Brian Weiss subscribes to his paradigm) that time is fluid and that lives are lived in overlapping, simultaneous ways. Susan (as I was told her name was) had recently lost her mother following a long illness. There are numerous details in this lifetime, but the important one that links this lifetime to the others I experienced, is that when her mom passed, she held in her hand a silver heart shaped locket that had a photo of them in it. Susan wore it every day after that. Five years later, a new girl comes to her school and they notice that they are each wearing the same pendant. They become friends and Susan discovers that this other girl’s father had died and left her mother a widow. The two scheme to get their parents together. Eventually they marry. I am not certain if the Susan aspect of my soul is still alive. I will explore that further.

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Lessons: Love never dies. People find each other when they need to. People can create new lives. There are indeed what I call ‘overlapping soul circles’. The Warren Zevon song, Keep Me In Your Heart, came through as well.

As we were led into the next lifetime, I feel a pain in my legs and I curl them up and a thought crosses my mind that I don’t have the use of them. I am a girl in 1922 who has polio and I am in a wheelchair. Sitting in the parlor of my parents’ NYC brownstone, wearing black woolen stockings and braces, I am being tutored by a bitter, angry woman who tells me that I had better learn what she is teaching me so I can be independent, since “No man will want you and your parents won’t be around forever.”  I am so upset by what she is saying that I tell my parents and they fire her. My next tutor is a supportive man who encourages my independence for different reasons; so that I can make a positive life for myself. I become a writer who travels the world, albeit in my wheelchair. I do eventually meet a man who is an artist and musician. We marry and have two children. On the last day of  that life, I am in bed with my family around me.

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Lessons: I can overcome any challenge. Mobility looks all kinds of ways. I can trust a man to take care of me. I can speak my truth and ask for what I want and situations change. I can love myself even with perceived limitations. I can use creativity to thrive.

In the third lifetime I discover that I am a young boy playing by a stream, hanging out with rabbits, squirrels and fox. My father is a hunter who kills for sport and not because food is needed. I rebel against that mindset and we are often at odds and he makes fun of my Dr. Doolittle-like relationship with animals. Later in my life, I become a veterinarian and animal communicator. People bring their animals to me and I make house calls to them if they have farm animals. I don’t recall if I married in that lifetime or had children, but at the end, there was a George Bailey- ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ type tribute.

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Lessons: Follow your path. Connect with nature. Speak your truth. Stand up to bullies. Love animals. I currently offer Reiki and massage for horses. Kindness counts.

In the future life progression, we were guided to a healing temple up steps into clouds. It reminded me of a Maxfield Parrish painting. I was led into a lifetime in which I lived in a pod of people who shared a home, responsibilities and interwoven relationships with each other. Each of us had a healing gift to offer. Mine was creativity and communication (as in this current lifetime).

Lessons:  No need to compete with anyone to feel valued. We are all special and have unique gifts to offer. Living in community and cooperation.

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At the end of the workshop, I left with a sense that all is well and everything in my life is unfolding as it should.

“All is love…All is love. With love comes understanding. With understanding comes patience. And then time stops. And everything is now.” -Brian Weiss

 

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You Worry Too Much

“Oh soul, you worry too much. You have seen your own strength. You have seen your own beauty. You have seen your golden wings. Of anything less, why do you worry? You are in truth the soul, of the soul, of the soul.” -Rumi

I have long believed that worry is a waste of imagination, even though our minds can spin out of control with what could go wrong. All of the what if and if only thoughts come waving their metaphorical arms for attention, reminding us that ultimately we are not in control of the outcome of much. When my brain capacity is filled with fearsome ideas, there is no room for creativity.

I could say that I come by my worry tendencies genetically as my paternal grandmother could have received a bronze statue, a gold medal and a blue ribbon if ever there was a worriers’ competitive event. She and her parents fled Russia before the pogroms when Jews were ousted from the country. Even though they safely landed in their adopted country of America, I imagine that the pattern was already ingrained. I never knew my great grandparents, but I would bet they were worry champs too.

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So, what kind of things creep into my open mind when I least expect them to appear?

* Money issues

* Health issues

* Relationship issues

* My son’s well-being

* My friends’ and extended families’ states

* My car

*My home

* Career issues

Are those enough?

Ironically, I don’t fret over the state of the world, since I can’t single-handedly stop war and poverty, quell violence between people  and between humans and animals, keep folks from polluting the planet and be sure there is enough for everyone. I do, however, behave in ways that I perceive to be loving and kind, supportive and pro-active.

A friend asked me yesterday if I have faith. That’s a tough one to answer, since it implies a not knowing. What gets me through is remembering that I have survived everything that has ever happened in my life, so I will leap whatever hurdles might appear. The idea is to do it as gracefully as possible, without tripping over my feet. I am also able to silence (at least temporarily) the monkey mind by chatting with the Divine within and around me. I am still not settled on what I perceive God to be. There are times when I say that our conversations are dialogs and sometimes monologues. What I do know is that answers arrive; albeit not always in the ways I expect. There is no such thing in my mind as an unanswered prayer. I don’t always appreciate the answer at the time, but in retrospect, I can always see the purpose of the experience.

Learning to take the Nestea Plunge in trust that there is plenty of water in the pool to catch me….and I can swim.

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Detaching With Love

The people in my life with whom I feel close kinship have a few things in common. They are loving, but also demonstrative of that emotion. They walk the talk in most ways. They understand that love is a verb; an action word. Not just when it is easy or convenient to express, but rather when it is the most difficult. They reach out when they sense something is amiss, offering support. They also reach up to celebrate successes. They acknowledge communication and respond accordingly. They follow through on agreements. They share their thoughts openly and willingly, with a desire to cultivate deeper intimacy. They move past fear of being known. They are reliable and game to respond to questions so that they can get to know themselves better. They exhibit courage to move beyond fears that hold closeness at bay. They listen with the ears of the heart. They are authentic and vulnerable, trusting that they are safe with me, since I give them every reason to think they would be.

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That being said, there have been people who have entered my life with whom I have practiced cognitive dissonance and put aside some of the beliefs I mentioned above in the service of maintaining connection. It has put to the test one of the Four Agreements, written by don Miguel Ruiz.

“Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

When I contemplate this paradigm, I ask myself of what benefit are these relationships?  How do we serve each other?  There comes a time when it is best to step back from investing so much energy in interactions that are mostly uni-directional. It doesn’t mean closing anyone out of my heart, since I don’t do that. It means to detach with love and allow these people to be who they are, since it is not my place to expect anyone to live by my standards. Hard lesson to learn, but necessary to be in integrity with myself. When I do that, I allow into my life more people who do walk the talk and are ready, willing and able to walk with me.

 

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After Ashram

I am nestled in my bed as I am writing these words. Thousands of miles and seemingly worlds away from the peace-drenched place in which I spent the past five days. Sivananda Yoga Ashram in the Bahamas drew me there by divine invitation when my friend Joan Borysenko sent an email announcing her workshop called Writing Down the Light.  The absolute affirmation jolted me into action as I registered and arranged for transportation that day. I am not usually as decisive, as this Libra normally weighs and measures each decision carefully. This was a no-brainer. As a writing workshop, it would open the door to new possibilities to another way of looking at my life and re-scripting it. Up for that, since even though my daily existence is pretty amazing, I welcome all kinds of new delights. The setting was gorgeous, even in the rain (two days of it made the grounds even more lush and green) and the canopy of trees offered a pitter patter sound as the drops fell on them.

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Arrival day had us crossing the expanse of water from the mainland to the island in a torrential downpour and the captain of the little putt-putt boat had taken the spiritual name Ganesha who is part of the Hindu pantheon. The elephant headed emanation of God is known as the remover of obstacles. Sputtering the water out of his mouth and wiping it from his eyes, he was able to safely maneuver the expanse from one place to the next. When we arrived on the other side, wringing wet and laughing hysterically, I realized that it is how I get through mostly everything in my life. Complaining is not in my nature. Finding a way to resiliently get through challenges is, or at least, has become a learned attitude. It wouldn’t make the rain stop and actually make me feel wetter than I was. Besides, it was a ‘first world problem,’ since here I was on retreat in the Bahamas. How could that in any way be a bad thing? It continued for another full day, as some of the grief and anger, frustration and desire for some aspects of my life to be different, were washed away with the rain, winds and my own tears. I stood on the beach in the howling wind on the second day, watching the waves crash on the sand and did a ritual in which I offered my overwhelming emotions to the sea and asked that they be carried away and transmuted to beauty. Later that night, while sitting in Satsang and immersing myself in chanting the words and sounds that are the ‘liturgy’ of worship there. I felt a dramatic shift and a sense of relief wash over me, like the now calmer waves on the shore.

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The next morning brought the sun peeking through the passing clouds. As I was lying on the outside deck on my mat in yoga class, I had a revelation that each relationship in my life and every experience I have are no less beautiful as they morph into various forms. None looks the same from moment to moment. As much as I want consistency in all areas, I know that change is inevitable and desirable.

In the  writing class portion of the retreat, I was pulled into the heights and depths of emotion and was willing to courageously explore what had lay dormant previously. Old fears, wounds and loss arose for healing. Past glories melded into present day joys. All that I had seed planted for, worked for, believed in, desired, was coming to be. I could feel butterflies dancing in my stomach, as they are doing now. Flapping their metaphorical wings, creating that ‘butterfly effect’ in which an action in one part of the world impacts something elsewhere, a gazillion miles away. Who knows what love mischief was stirred up by my actions.

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One of many things I loved about this experience was being surrounded by people from all over the world, who spoke different languages and who had various spiritual beliefs…and we all got along. Images of Hindu deities, the gurus who created and sustained the ashram, along with a statue of Mother Mary and prayers from all traditions in the prayer book enriched my time there.

At several points, I gazed at the beatific image of Sivananda and felt a kinship to this man who had passed into Eternity many decades ago. He had a quizzical look on his face, as if he was asking me to go deeper and touch the Divine in ways I had been fearful of doing previously. A familiarity, a welcoming. I am willing. I am ready. I am able.

Crossing the water again was a peaceful experience as the waves and my emotions were calmer, the sun was shining and I was beaming from the inside out.

When I left yesterday, I carried in my heart, the people who touched my life there. I listened to the chants on youtube last night and this morning, as a way of grounding my time there and embodying it daily, even though I am back in chilly Philly.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti….Peace, Peace, Peace~

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