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Practical Spirituality

 

809 words // 10 min. read

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I want to talk about being a highly sensitive person.

I want to talk about this a LOT actually. It has been difficult for me all of my life to feel and see so deeply – most of my social memories until a certain point are quite negative, with me being blatantly outcast, rejected, shamed, shunned, and/or misunderstood. It was only recently when I learned about high sensitivity as a scientifically-researched phenomenon that I came to see it for what it is – a superpower.

A friend turned me onto this book by Elaine Aron. You know those books that when you read them you reframe your entire existence in the context of their insights? This one has been one of those for me. It’s about the growing body of research on this topic where Highly Sensitive People (or “HSPs”, though I call them simply “sensitives”) are defined as a portion of the population with a gene predisposing them to heightened sensitivity, making up only about 15-20% of the population, equal for males and females. Interestingly this same gene is also present in over 100 different species.

The implications are enormous!!!

Sensitivity, the author explains, pertains to both a heightened reactiveness to stimuli as well as certain cognitive tendencies such as processing information more deeply and picking up on subtler information underneath the surface of events. Thus if you were an HSP you would be unable to avoid reading into situations more deeply than others – indeed more deeply than would 80% of the population – as perhaps seeing the depression hanging behind someone’s smile or sensing the discomfort someone has with your success or picking up on the subtlest of cues such as a raised eyebrow or a furtive glance or a nervous tapping of someone’s foot – all which give away certain things about the person’s emotional or psychological state.

I have felt this sensitivity all my life. And I have become so painfully aware of how few people understand it! Well the author makes this overarching point about the western world denigrating and devaluing sensitivity, citing a study wherein school kids were surveyed – “What makes the popular kids so well liked?” And in the west, the common descriptors were “outgoing”, “talkative”, “energetic” whereas in the east the descriptors were “reserved”, “composed,” “mature”….

Well this devaluation pervades our culture, including Western psychology. Sensitivity has been negatively attributed to people under various terms (“neurotic”, “introverted”, “shy”, etc) since our imperialist origins require the “superior” paradigm to be externally oriented – fighting and screaming and competing, essentially penetrating outwards. Well sensitive people tend to lean toward the inner worlds. As Carl Jung put it, sensitive people are “educators and promoters of culture”… they live “the other possibility of the interior life which is so incredibly wanting in our civilization.”

For even more sociological context, Aron also suggests that throughout history, HSPs were known as members of the “royal advisory class” which cultivated power in the esoteric realms for survival, as opposed to the “warrior-king class” which cultivated power by brute force. This “royal advisory class” pertains to such archetypes as the shamans, witches, healers, priests, etc which have influenced every society in various roles since the Neolithic revolution (the point at which humans began agricultural practices and thus developing settlements).

I could write for days about this and I’m sure I will in time, but for now I will bullet point the key points as I see them:

  • The author makes an overarching point about the negative bias the imperialist West places on sensitivity which programs HSPs to have low self-esteem from the get go
  • There is no spectrum of sensitivity – you either have the gene or you do not
  • The parts of the brain more active in HSPs are the insula, known as “the seat of consciousness” (moment to moment processing center) and the mirror neuron system which is how empathy works
  • HSPs have a greater capacity for both sadness and joy, a concept called “vantage sensitivity”
  • Trauma has a much more devastating effect on HSPs than others, especially childhood trauma
  • As a survival strategy we process so thoroughly the implications of what occurs and we are thus less likely to make the same mistake again
  • HSPs are extremely affected by their environment, called “differential susceptibility”
  • HSPs have a hard time displaying their competence when being evaluated or watched (they are keenly aware of the judgment & scrutiny)
  • Sensitivity is inherited, and if two HSPs reproduce their child is even more sensitive (studied in dogs)
  • She also gives concrete techniques for managing the trait and its downsides
  • The spiritual term for it is “empath”

To take the simple self-test to determine if you are sensitive, go here.
To get the book, go here.

Basically, if you feel misunderstood, constantly deeper than most you meet, often tired for no apparent reason, read this book!

Holy moly what a gem!!!

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891 words // 12 min. read

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Back in the day – and by that I mean like, 5,000 years ago – humans placed great emphasis on their shrines. Having a shrine or altar meant that one could access God in the daily human experience. It was understood as a central part of one’s daily life, as the foundation of one’s prayer or spiritual practice. In Feng Shui, altars are considered the place where God force comes in to your home. So if you have no altar? God hesitates to come in!

On the individual level, this common custom meant they had altars (or “courtyards”) at the heart of every home, often with sacred items representing their ancestors, deities, and perhaps energy of different forces like love or money or health. On the collective level, this manifested as temples at the heart of every city, often with a sacred “inner sanctum” at the core (a shrine within a shrine if you will).

I mean think about it. What if, instead of TVs being what our “living” rooms are centered around, what if every home in America had an altar to their spirituality at the center?

My blood boils when I think of how cities are built now, with everything so jarring and grimy and soulless. Very little is sacred in big cities, with the only nature being in parks which are (typically) not well maintained. This extreme lack of intention in our environment sets us up for confusion, scatteredness, and self-fractioning as we pass through these spaces with energetic difficulty.

A classic book on the topic I have yet to read all of but which has profoundly affected me nonetheless is one called A Pattern Language. It’s written by an architect with a divine understanding of the subtler implications of buildings, and the arrangement of buildings, in terms of how it affects our human experience. This is a field called “environmental psychology” which is FASCINATING. But my point in bringing up this book is that in one chapter he talks about the effects of a city with a courtyard in the middle, in stark contrast to a city with a dump in the middle. You can imagine the dynamic differences in energy these scenarios generate for the whole.

On a more practical level, I think of my altar as an anchor of my spiritual and psychic energy. Every day, I wake up and sit down and make an offering there, which connects me to my source. It is a centralization of my spiritual force – my willpower, creativity, passion, and divinity accumulate there into a reverberating orb of energy that envelops my whole house in a glorious state of nurturing and upliftment. This makes it easier for me to maintain higher vibrations.

With a well-loved and well-tended altar, your home can become a temple.

And besides the obvious benefits of accumulating high-vibrational energy in one place, it also encourages a habit of prayer or meditation practice, as it is designed for engagement and relishment as one gazes over their most sacred objects.

As simple as it is, I believe this is a huge way to shift consciousness quickly, for not only individuals but whole societies! And it’s really simple to start one. Most people have everything already lying around.

✧・° ✧. ・°: * ✧・° .* ✧・°: *✧ ・°.*✧. ・°: * ✧・° .* ✧・°: *✧ ・°.*✧. ・°: * ✧・° .* ✧・°: *✧ ・°.*✧. ・°: * ✧

TRY IT! 
First, designate the place and form it will take – this can be with a piece of furniture such as a small shelf or table, or it can be more simple such as a cloth on the floor. Next, find or purchase some sort of pillow/rug/blanket to place before the altar. This will be what invites you to the practice so make it enticing – fluffy & cushioned – go PLUSH on this! Luxuriate!

Then the fun part – you get to go all over your house collecting the most sacred things you can find. Crystals or stones, musical instruments, photos, representations of deities, objects representing something sacred for you, anything goes. Ideally you cleanse and “bless” everything you choose with concentrated attention (and sage or holy water). Typically you want to include at least one candle, an incense or oil burner, a bell or chime if you have one, and some kind of plate and bowl (one to hold sage bundles etc, and the bowl for giving offerings).

Activities you can participate in at your altar: lighting incense, anointing yourself with oils, charging your crystals with Love, chanting, singing, and/or playing music, lighting candles, giving offerings to deities (wine, fruit, coins, etc), expressing gratitude, setting intentions (or using EFT aka “tapping” with affirmations)… often you’ll end up just plain meditating no matter where you start out.

✧・° ✧. ・°: * ✧・° .* ✧・°: *✧ ・°.*✧. ・°: * ✧・° .* ✧・°: *✧ ・°.*✧. ・°: * ✧・° .* ✧・°: *✧ ・°.*✧. ・°: * ✧・° 

The creativity is up to you. There is no right or wrong! (Unless you spell it “alter.” That is WRONG.) I like to have several altars around my house, all working out or “holding” different things. Most of the time I am working with a deity or two in particular (see the picture above for my current!). Of course, I always emphasize the central altar though, as the “hearth” of your home and centerpoint to your practice, and ultimately, the place where God force is invited in.

I hope you take this as seriously as I do and MAKE ONE! And then you can make one for your parents and your friends and your gatherings….

Life will never be the same. And why should it, anyway?  😉

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626 words // 10 min. read

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Writing today about a concept that surfaced when speaking with a dear friend of mine who’s weighted intellectually – I love entering into conversations with him because he has such a wide breadth of knowledge, in addition to many more years on this planet than me, which gives him a glorious mind-ocean to explore.

Well the other day we were talking about some angle of multi-dimensionality or other, and I was describing something about the impending shift in consciousness, and accordingly the impending “fall” of our society, whatever that will look like. And he was saying, “where are you getting your FACTS?” “What is it all based on?” “What is your reasoning?”

And while I greatly respect his inquiries into my philosophies at ANY time, this one really got me thinking in terms of the collective.

I think we all need to shed this tyrannical over-reliance on facts that we have been taught to emphasize above all else, and re-learn the art of reading vibration.

I explained to him that in my opinion, the hold of LOGIC and REASON and FACTS, while important in terms of premises and building larger ideologies (among other things), can be detrimental to the spirit, in that one does not come to utilize our natural system of discernment by vibration. As an example, the way that I personally distinguish truth from falsehood is not by relying solely on the mind. That is one way to do it of course, if you are into the tedium of tallying. But for me, truth is a much deeper thing; I feel it in the core of my being, like the ringing of a bell tower.

The truth, howsoever menial, will come into my system and “ping” against my inner world – the deeper the ring there, the truer the truth. If it bounces into my body and falls flat, or has no movement whatsoever, I know it is untrue. Some things come in and have less impact than a gnat landing on a banana, while some things come in like a tsunami of vibration. Most things are in between, but I can always tell by the depth of the vibration.

Regardless, I believe that the best way to determine if something is true or not is by FEELING, not necessarily by thinking.

One of my favorite metaphors to understanding intuition vs. mind energy goes like this. Mind energy – the chatter of thoughts from your ego –  feels like swimmers splashing on the surface of the ocean. Da da da da da! High, fast, quick, and then easily replaced by the next thing that comes along. Intuition though feels like the sound of the ocean depths, like how whales sing – long, slow, deep – powerful in its vibration. It rings in your entire field. Truth is quite similar to that.

TRY IT !
• Go someplace you’re alone and become really still.
• Sit or stand up tall and take some deep breaths. Let everything become quiet.
• Bring to mind your dilemma or decision, then sample any tension that results.
• Then make your mind like a stage with you as the audience – empty and anticipating a show.
• Feel the blankness first, then call in the energy of Option/Situation A.
• Feel all of the feelings around what it does for you.
• Breathe into it, whether it’s icky or empowering, allow it to come up and just observe.
• When you feel complete, go back to the empty stage.
• Breathe a few times into the nothingness.
• Then call in the energy of Option/Situation B. Feeling it all fully, how does it change your state?
• Compare options. Which had the most resonant feel?

You can use that same idea to “feel” with your inner body. We all have a built in meter for truth, just not everyone knows they do. Useful in this age of “fake news” and fear mongering and information overwhelm, eh?

Last thing, I know this post has been oversimplified – cue debate about subjective vs. objective truth – but I believe there exists an objective truth and I think it’s detrimental to say there isn’t one, or that we can’t experience it from a subjective mind. I believe that these objective truths are perceptible, and that they show up in our daily experience, to the extent that we have Love in our lives. I believe, when this universal force comes to you, no matter how slightly, it generates a deep, abiding, resonant vibration, and that you can tune into this to stay on course if you are aware.

Because you ARE that vibration! Truth is Love is God is You. 

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629 words // 10 min. read

glitterbomb

Ok, so I really like sidewalk chalk, right? As in, I regularly drive around with a basket full of chalk in my trunk, in case the urge hits me to leave a “mark.” I do it under mischievous circumstances usually. Maybe I’m resonating with a good quote at the time, or I think of a really good question to ask strangers to ask of themselves, or there’s a nice message that I would like to hear from the Universe if I were walking along…

In any event, every time I do it, there’s this amazing arc of emotion to it. First the anticipatory mischief and joy at scheming for the highest good of all, then the thrill of actually executing the act, then the satisfaction of knowing I uplifted at least one person. The after effects of joy and satisfaction can last for days.

I also get a kick out of the fact that the most mundane of things – like the sidewalk or a stone or a wall – can be made Divine in this way. Because while I do it, my entranced attention expands like a mushroom into the space, fluttering up into the area around me, implanting a Divine and eternal resonance for all who happen to come upon it in their day.

The mystique of the all-powerful glitterbomb. For all who are aware enough to notice it, the Love from this act is theirs to drink in. There is no logic in it, only feeling – the feeling of Love for all of creation. You imprint a vibration that resonates in the memory of the space there, uplifting it with the vibration of Love, and all who pass through can feel the Divinity there whether they notice it or not.

I love how simple it is. You are reminded of the Divine Spark running through EVERYTHING by something as seemingly mundane as a chalk message on the sidewalk.

Talk about the magic in the every day….

* * *

I first heard the term “glitterbomb” at a party in the Houston art/warehouse scene probably around 2014. I remember I was speaking with a girl passionate about activism, and she was telling me about the concept of “glitterbombing,” which was when certain activists would take a handful of glitter and throw it at their opponents. But that was too extreme for some, and it kinda got spun into this new “milder” thing, where they would leave positive messages to others in very inconspicuous ways. It was understood to be a sort of “wink” to those who were aware – this beautiful idea of leaving playful, uplifting signs to encourage people who are paying enough attention to take note.

One of the things I remember her describing was her friend who was a waitress that would write loving things on sugar packets, and watch for who noticed them or not.

What an amazing concept, right!? I love doing this with chalk, but what if we ALL did that, ALL the time? What if you were constantly bombarded with positive messages sent to you by other humans like you? What if there was a whole movement of people planting positive signs EVERYWHERE, and we just lived in this amazing culture of expressed human love?

* * *

Other examples I can think of are going to bookstores or libraries and leaving kind notes in books, putting messages in people’s windshield wipers, taking dry erase markers to public bathroom mirrors, leaving posts on Craigslist “Missed Connections,” bombing people’s social media with praise, writing things in the dirt at the trailhead….

You can also think of your own! Let’s combat the dark tentacles of modern advertising with JOY sent human heart to human heart. I know I would looooove to see more things like this happening in the world, wouldn’t you? ^_^

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570 Words // 10 min. read

 

sage

So people shower what, like a few times a week? Typically you shower because maybe you’re starting to feel like you smell, or you feel a grimy film all over your skin, or maybe you did a lot of “work” and want to refresh your whole world. Hop in the shower and wash off, easy!

Well you can wash your body easy, but how do you cleanse your mind? How do you clear away the emotional remnants of an argument? How do you make sure your aura and/or personal space isn’t jam-packed with hate or anger residue?

Do you even think about these things as needing to be “cleaned” (in an energetic sense)?

The spiritual body becomes “dirty” just like your physical body does, and accordingly with the “body” of your space. Arguments, obsessiveness, anger and spitefulness, outbursts of any kind including menial, daily frustrations – all of this leaves a residue in your environment and can accumulate in your body, auric field, and personal space. If left unaddressed, over time it can become a sticky/slimy/dark/smoggy/surreal film-like curtain over your reality, making you feel like you’re “not yourself” – and not only that, if you are unaware enough, it can keep you in a negative feedback loop reliving the issue over and over again.

It shows up differently for everyone, as your energy shows up differently than everyone’s. But the basic thing you need to know about it is that energy, just like dirt and grime, can accumulate and then over time come to stagnate. Therefore to optimize our health we must “move” the energy regularly to keep it flowing. This can mean both in the physical sense of the word, meaning a rearrange or shift of the physical objects in the space, and an energetic sense of the word, meaning a shift of the space vibrationally, via sound, smudging (with sage or otherwise), or even just a mental direction of light to clear things up.

Anything that does not get “shaken up” with a degree of regularity – including under your couch, behind your bed, and by the kitchen trash cans, for instance – can start to grow pockets of negativity, like a cancer of sorts. Additionally if you have certain places in your home that you spend a lot of time in (desk, armchair, meditation or altar space, etc) then those should be cleansed more often. Rearranging furniture and/or cleaning behind it can bring huge energetic shifts. Also try moving lights around in rooms for big changes.

For the basics of energetic clearing, use a smudge stick and direct smoke into nooks and crannies to get things moving, or use a chime, bell, or your own voice to make noise that sweetly expands into the darkness. If you don’t have these things, you can always just use your imagination and breath to direct light from God – in through your crown chakra, down to your heart chakra, and out into a spot anywhere in or around your space.

For body or aura cleansing, you can use the same techniques, just using your imagination to direct the smoke/sound/breath/light into anywhere in/on your body.

I hope this post inspires you to think about creating a daily, weekly, or monthly habit where you “sit with” the energy of your body (and space) to see if you can improve the vibration in any way. Most people ignore this altogether but there are huge benefits if you don’t!

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