Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year, 2012!

The end of 2011 is here and 2012 is about to begin. As you look toward 2012, what do you want to create? What accomplishments have you been able to manifest? What habits or behaviors have you been able to release? What is working for you and what is not working?

What do you want to invite into the new year? What do you want to "feed" this year, love or fear? It is important to make conscious choices and set clear, positive intentions. Whatever you put out into the world is what you will manifest. If you choose to feed love, love will grow wherever it is focused as you join with other like-minded people throughout the world. However, when you connect with the daily barrage of fear-based news stories or conversations you feed fear. It is a choice.

Currently there are tremendous, ongoing, global and individual shifts. 2012 will continue to bring change throughout the world. How we perceive and respond to these changes will determine our future as inhabitants of planet Earth. So, instead of reacting from fear, anger, and/or resistance, I want to encourage you to respond to any challenge with an open heart and trust that this energetic shift is creating our personal and global transformation.

The global perspective can be overwhelming so I suggest that each of us begin with our personal growth. It is what we become that changes the world, not what we do. So what changes do you want to see in your own life? What fears do you want to release and what hopeful, positive expansion to you want to envision?

This is a powerful time to sit down and write out your goals and wishes for the coming year. One suggestion is to choose the areas of your life where you want to grow and write about them, in the present tense, as if the changes have already manifested. The more succinct you are in the writing, the clearer your vision and resulting manifestation will be. Consider some of the following questions:

1. What do I want this year in my personal life?
2. What do I want this year for my financial life?
3. What do I want this year for my business life?
4. What do I want this year for my spiritual life?

Now take out your new, 2012 journal out and write about each question.  For example:

I now have the financial freedom that a stable cash flow provides. I now have a monthly income of at least _____ each and every month, with ease and grace, and I am able to meet all my financial agreements plus put away money for travel and extra expenses. 

Do this for each question and then read them daily. This will help you shift old limiting beliefs and change out-dated paradigms in your life. Have fun and be creative! You can also create vision boards or a collage to provide a visual representation. What you do is not important, it's the intention, focus, and passion you have to recreate your life!

I wish you the happiest of new years.

May 2012 be filled with personal expansion and blessings for our world and for all sentient beings on Mother Earth!

Blessings of peace, love and light ~ Gretchen

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Inner Light

The days grow shorter. The temperature has dropped and today I'm sitting at my computer wearing sweats with a cozy wrap around my shoulders and a cup of steaming Peach Blossom White Tea beside me. 

Winter is approaching. Solstice is just a few days away and the holiday season is in full swing with parties and celebrations everywhere.

This is a festive time of year but it is also the time of year to reflect on the previous months of experiences and lessons, honoring areas of growth and expansion. The soul's journey requires tending. My past experiences have provided opportunities for learning and my life is enriched because of these life-lessons.

Winter is the final phase of the twelve-month cycle of Earth’s seasons. Like all cycles, winter holds evidence and clues within it about what came before, what is and what will likely be. The energy of winter is an ending and a new beginning. There is increasing darkness, the darkest point and then the shift toward increasing light.

At this time of year I look to nature to show me her rhythm, her way of "being." She is quiet. Her leaves cover the ground, decomposing. During the process of decomposition, the decomposers provide food for themselves by extracting chemicals from organic wastes to produce energy. The decomposers will then produce waste of their own. In turn, this will also decompose, eventually returning nutrients to the soil. These nutrients can then be taken up by the roots of living plants enabling them to grow and develop, so that organic material is naturally recycled. Virtually nothing goes to waste in nature.

During this season of quiet reflection and review, I encourage each of you to recycle your energies. Renew, refresh, and envision the richness of your journey to date and the possibility that lies before you. 

I love to search for quotes that inspire. May these quotes help invoke that spirit within.  
In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
~Albert Camus

One is wise to cultivate the tree that bears fruit in our soul.
~Henry David Thoreau

We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light.
~Mary Dunbar

This is the season we are invited to go within and honor our personal journey. In the darkness of winter, may we find our own light. May we shine and, collectively, may we brighten the world.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chaos to Order

Fall is a gentle season. In Southern California there are subtle changes of cool nights, early-morning fog, falling leaves, and withering vines. Monarch butterflies continue to grace my garden but there are fewer now and the milkweed is no longer being consumed by their offspring. The earth seems to be drawing into herself, preparing to rest. She will continue to provide winter fruits and vegetables to nourish our bodies but there is a shift in the elements, even here in sunny California.

This is the time of year when I begin to prepare for my own wintering. My stack of non-fiction books is growing by my bedside ready to assist me in gathering new wisdom and insight about myself and the world I live in. I love this time of reflection and discernment through the written word.

Lately I've been reading Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World by Margaret Wheatley. Margaret Wheatley writes, teaches, and speaks about radically new business practices and ideas for organizing in chaotic times using quantum science and nature for guidance. She works to create organizations of all types where people are known as the blessing, not the problem.

Leadership and the New Science was published in 1999 but the wisdom and insight Wheatley shares is even more relevant in today's chaotic world than it was a decade ago. Daily we observe chaos in government and the global economy. Unemployment plagues once-thriving countries and communities and depression is at an all-time high. There is a growing fear of disorder and chaos.

Yet chaos and disorder, and the falling apart of antiquated systems, is exctly what is required in order to move into the prophesied new era. Old systems that no longer serve must fall away and be replaced with sustainable systems that do not deplete the natural resources of our beautiful planet while supporting the growth of communities.

But where do we look for inspiration, hope, and wisdom? Where are the systems that can serve as a model for more sustainable systems? Nature. Nature is constantly changing from one cycle to another. Look at the cycle of a butterfly, the migration of birds, the seasonal transformation of deciduous forests, and the life cycle of all sentient beings.

Perhaps if each of us makes the commitment to reflect on our own inner nature and spend time each day meditating in the arms the natural world, especially wild places, order will begin to emerge within and without. Inspiration can replace fear and ideas for creating order from disorder can begin to emerge.

Nature is filled with cycles and rhythms of change, order and chaos. What plants thrive naturally in the wilderness habitats where you live? What seasonal changes can you observe around you? What natural systems are working together to create balance in your garden or neighborhood? What is not working and needs to be changed?

We live in evolutionary times, more globally intense than at any other time in recorded history. Human beings are amazingly adaptable but we have forgotten how to live together in balance and harmony. We have lost our interdependence with Mother Earth and are out of rhythm with her cycles. She is reminding us that the world within is reflected in Nature. None of us can live alone. We need each other and our communities to solve the daunting problems in our world.

During this season I encourage you to slow down and look within. Is there any chaos in your life that you wish to transform? Spend some time in nature and allow her to speak to your inner wildness. Reflect on what is working and what is not. Let the chaos within and without guide you to creative solutions as you bring order to your life and hope into the world. Be willing to let go of the things that no longer serve you and embrace the invitation to transform the internal and external chaos. Allow nature to be your compass.
"One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature -- inexhaustible abundance amid what seems enormous waste. And yet when we look into any of her operations that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. It is eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unspendable wealth of the universe, and faithfully watch and wait the reappearance of everything that melts and fades and dies about us, feeling sure that its next appearance will be better and more beautiful than the last." ~ John Muir

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Compassion is defined as a deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. Wikipedia states that compassion is a virtue in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy are regarded as a part of love itself, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism.
Last week a dear friend forwarded a video of Tenzin Robert Thurman speaking at Chautauqua Institution in 2009. Robert Thurman is the first American to be ordained a Tibetan Monk by the Dalai Lama. He is a scholar, author and tireless proponent of peace.

In this video Robert Thurman asks that we develop compassion for all, including our enemies. He prescribes a seven-step meditation exercise to extend compassion beyond our inner circle, encouraging universal compassion and responsibility. Although he shares from the Buddhist perspective, his message is at the heart of all spiritual traditions.

I began reflecting on the meaning of compassion in my own life and my limitations in seeing beyond my inner circle. At my core I believe that all human beings carry both light and shadow but I recognize that I often experience judgement about others, especially leaders, who appear to be void of compassion for others. However I want to become a universally compassionate person who lives from an expansive heart space.  How do I become part of the change the world needs? How do I begin to expand my perspective of compassion to include all of humanity? How do I become peace?

These questions sent me on a Internet search for deeper insight and awareness about this principle of compassion with the intention to move from my head into my heart, for myself and the world.

I found that Buddah said, "Compassion is that which makes the heart of the good move at the pain of others. It crushes and destroys the pain of others; thus, it is called compassion. It is called compassion because it shelters and embraces the distressed." Christ challenged mankind to forsake their own desires and to act compassionately towards others, particularly those in need or distress. Through the ages Rabbis have spoken of the "thirteen attributes of compassion." The Biblical conception of compassion is the feeling of the parent for the child.

During my exploration I came across an organization called "Charter for Compassion." The original contributors of the Charter are a group of multi-faith, multi-national religious thinkers and leaders. The council of contributors has grown and includes many spiritual leaders as well as muscians and writers throughout the world. (

The Charter for Compassion states...
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the center of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.
I encourage everyone interested in world peace to explore this amazing website. There are inspirational resources and ideas for acting with compassion on a daily basis. By affirming your participation in this project you join thousands of others, worldwide, who have made the same agreement.

May we become the change we want to see. May we practice universal compassion, finding joy in living in kindness for our self and others. May we practice peace!

Blessings of PEACE, COMPASSION, and LIGHT ~ Gretchen

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reveal, Release, Transform: The Soul's Journey

My parents loved to read. They loved the language of a well-told story, especially historical fiction, and passed that love for reading down to my sister and me. Sometimes my mother or father would share a story from their own childhood as a value lesson. My grandmother in Oregon loved to take me out into her garden where I would help her pick peas or feed her flock of chickens that cackled and scratched around the yard. I always felt as if my parents and grandparents, especially my mother and maternal grandmother,  saw me as their hope for a better future. They courageously dreamed new dreams for me, hoping to release old family limitations and patterns in their own life.

I remember times during my childhood that were filled with laughter, times when my mother, my sister, and myself would be thrown into hysterics by an unexpected mishap during one of our songfests or a family outing. We would roll on the floor giggling! I have passed many of those stories on to my children and hope they will be shared long after we are gone.

But I'm also keenly aware of the many secrets my parents and grandparents harbored. There are family secrets that I have spent a lifetime uncovering, trying to unravel the patterns that have unfolded throughout my own life, patterns repeating themselves over and over again in my family's history. What was my mother hiding and why? Why were my grandmothers so angry at the world? Why did my father mistrust anyone who got too close to him? Was it shame, guilt, fear, or self-judgment? How can I shift their grief into positive lessons for healing, not only for myself but also for my ancestors and my descendants?

I just finished reading a beautiful story, The Silence of Trees, by Valya Dudycz Lupescu. Here's what an editorial review on says about this book:

"Too often the women of history have been silenced, but their stories have power - to reveal, to teach, and to transform. This is one such story. In Chicago's Ukrainian Village, Nadya Lysenko has built her life on a foundation of secrets. When Nadya was sixteen, she snuck out of her house in Western Ukraine to meet a fortuneteller in the woods. Ignoring the threat of Nazis and Russians, Nadya was driven by love and a desire to learn the unknown. She never expected it to be the last time she would see her family. Years later, Nadya continues to be haunted by the death of her parents and sisters. She clings to her traditions and stories from Ukraine, the only parts of her past that she can share with her family. The myths and magic of Nadya's childhood are still a part of her reality: house spirits misplace keys and glasses, dreams unite friends across time and space, and a fortuneteller's cards predict the future. Her beloved dead also insist on being heard, through dreams and whispers in the night. They want the truth to come out. Nadya needs to face her past and confront the secrets she buried within-THE SILENCE OF TREES."

This book has stirred my sleeping and waking dreams with thoughts about my own story and how I can use it to reveal, to teach, and transform myself and others. It brings up memories of my father and my mother and the parts of their stories I know and the parts I don't know. As I grow older I realize that both of them wanted their daughters to love them and respect them. They wanted my sister and me to experience success and happiness and they wanted us to love and respect them.

But neither of my parents loved themself. My grandmothers were angry and felt that the world had been unfair to them. There were too many secrets in their closets that brought personal shame, disappointment, and fear. The untold stories created festering wounds and they were afraid that they would be rejected if the family knew who they really were. They never felt safe enough to look deep within and release the subconscious beliefs that lay hidden deep within their very being.

It's only now, having reached the maturity of my 60's, that I have come to have deep compassion for my parents and grandparents and have uncovered enough of their personal histories to allow forgiveness and healing to permeate my inherited DNA, releasing and transforming the past for my ancestors and the future for my descendants. 

My prayer is that I find ways to share my own story with my children and grandchildren - to reveal, to teach, and transform. As I move through elder-hood, may I remember the lessons learned from my parents and grandparents and my own childhood and weave these memories into the fabric of my relationships with the people I love. May I be transparent in the journey I have taken to get to this point in my life and may I release any secrets that need to be transformed.

"Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey." ~ John O'Donohue (Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom)

Blessings of peace, love, and light ~ Gretchen

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What the Mayan Elders are Saying about 2012 by Carlos Barrios

Recently a friend sent me this letter from a Mayan Elder. In light of current world events I believe this is important and valuable information to share. 
Blessings ~ Gretchen

Carlos Barrios is a Mayan elder and Ajq'ij (a ceremonial priest and spiritual guide) of the Eagle Clan. Carlos initiated an investigation into the different Mayan calendars circulating. Carlos along with his brother Gerardo studied with many teachers and interviewed nearly 600 traditional Mayan elders to widen their scope of knowledge.

Carlos found out quickly there were several conflicting interpretations of Mayan hieroglyphs, petroglyphs, Sacred Books of 'Chilam Balam' and various ancient text. Carlos found some strong words for those who may have contributed to the confusion:
Carlos Barrios: "Anthropologists visit the temple sites and read the inscriptions and make up stories about the Maya, but they do not read the signs correctly. It's just their imagination. Other people write about prophecy in the name of the Maya. They say that the world will end in December 2012. The Mayan elders are angry with this. The world will not end. It will be transformed."

"We are no longer in the World of the Fourth Sun, but we are not yet in the World of the Fifth Sun. This is the time in-between, the time of transition. As we pass through transition there is a colossal, global convergence of environmental destruction, social chaos, war, and ongoing Earth Changes."

He continues: "Humanity will continue, but in a different way. Material structures will change. From this we will have the opportunity to be more human. We are living in the most important era of the Mayan calendars and prophecies. All the prophecies of the world, all the traditions are converging now. There is no time for games. The spiritual ideal of this era is action."

Carlos tells us: "The indigenous have the calendars and know how to accurately interpret it -- not others. The Mayan Calendars comprehension of time, seasons, and cycles has proven itself to be vast and sophisticated. The Maya understand 17 different calendars such as the Tzolk'in or Cholq'ij, some of them charting time accurately over a span of more than ten million years.

"All was predicted by the mathematical cycles of the Mayan calendars. -- It will change --everything will change. Mayan Day-keepers view the Dec. 21, 2012 date as a rebirth, the start of the World of the Fifth Sun. It will be the start of a new era resulting from and signified by the solar meridian crossing the galactic equator and the Earth aligning itself with the center of the galaxy."

At sunrise on December 21, 2012 for the first time in 26,000 years the Sun rises to conjunct the intersection of the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic. This cosmic cross is considered to be an embodiment of the Sacred Tree, The Tree of Life, a tree remembered in all the world's spiritual traditions.

Some observers say this alignment with the heart of the galaxy in 2012 will open a channel for cosmic energy to flow through the Earth, cleansing it and all that dwells upon it, raising all to a higher level of vibration. Carlos reminds us: "This process has already begun. Change is accelerating now and it will continue to accelerate.

If the people of the Earth can get to this 2012 date in good shape without having destroyed too much of the Earth, we will rise to a new, higher level. But to get there we must transform enormously powerful forces that seek to block the way."

The date specified in the calendar Winter Solstice in the year 2012 does not mark the end of the world. Many outside people writing about the Mayan calendar sensationalize this date, but they do not know. The ones who know are the indigenous elders who are entrusted with keeping the tradition.

Carlos tells us: "The economy now is a fiction. The first five-year stretch of transition from August 1987 to August 1992 was the beginning of the destruction of the material world. We have progressed ten years deeper into the transition phase by now, and many of the so-called sources of financial stability are in fact hollow. The banks are weak. This is a delicate moment for them. They could crash globally, if we don't pay attention. Now, people are paying attention."

The North and South Poles are both breaking up. The level of the water in the oceans is going to rise. But at the same time land in the ocean, especially near Cuba, is also going to rise. Carlos tells a story about the most recent Mayan New Year ceremonies in Guatemala. He said that one respected Mam elder, who lives all year in a solitary mountain cave, journeyed to Chichicastenango to speak with the people at the ceremony. The elder delivered a simple, direct message. He called for human beings to come together in support of life and light.

"Right now each person and group is going his or her own way. The elder of the mountains said there is hope if the people of the light can come together and unite in some way. We live in a world of polarity -- day and night, man and woman, positive and negative. Light and darkness need each other. They are a balance."

"Just now the dark side is very strong, and very clear about what they want. They have their vision and their priorities clearly held, and also their hierarchy. They are working in many ways so that we will be unable to connect with the spiral Fifth World in 2012."

"On the light side everyone thinks they are the most important, that their own understandings, or their group's understandings, are the key. There's a diversity of cultures and opinions, so there is competition, diffusion, and no single focus."

Carlos believes the dark side works to block unity through denial and materialism. It also works to destroy those who are working with the light to get the Earth to a higher level. They like the energy of the old, declining Fourth World, the materialism. They do not want it to change. They do not want unity. They want to stay at this level, and are afraid of the next level.

The dark power of the declining Fourth World cannot be destroyed or overpowered. It's too strong and clear for that, and that is the wrong strategy. The dark can only be transformed when confronted with simplicity and open-heartedness. This is what leads to unity, a key concept for the World of the Fifth Sun.

Carlos said the emerging era of the Fifth Sun will call attention to a much-overlooked element. Whereas the four traditional elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water have dominated various epochs in the past, there will be a fifth element to reckon with in the time of the Fifth Sun --- that element is 'ETHER'.

The dictionary defines Ether as a "hypothetical substance supposed to occupy all space, postulated to account for the propagation of electromagnetic radiation through space." Perhaps it could be defined as the "space between space". I would suggest it could be manifest as the alignment of charged particles from our solar system (Sun), and our galaxy (Milky Way) surge. The Ether element represents spiritual energy.

"The element of the Fifth Sun is celestial. Within the context of Ether there can be a joining of the polarities. No more darkness or light in the people, but an uplifted unity. But right now the realm of darkness is not interested in this. They are organized to block it. They seek to unbalance the Earth and its environment so we will be unready for the alignment in 2012."

"We need to work together for peace, and balance with the other side. We need to take care of the Earth that feeds and shelters us. We need to put our entire mind and heart into pursuing unity and unity now, to confront the other side and preserve life."

"We are disturbed -- we can't play anymore. Our planet can be renewed or ravaged. Now is the time to awaken and take action. Everyone is needed. You are not here for no reason. Everyone who is here now has an important purpose. This is a hard but a special time. We have the opportunity for growth, but we must be ready for this moment in history."

Carlos says: "The prophesied changes are going to happen, but our attitude and actions determine how harsh or mild they are. We need to act, to make changes, and to elect people to represent us who understand and who will take political action to respect the Earth."

"Meditation and spiritual practice are good, but also action. It's very important to be clear about who you are, and also about your relation to the Earth. Develop yourself according to your own tradition and the call of your heart. But remember to respect differences, and strive for unity. Eat wisely --- a lot of food is corrupt in either subtle or gross ways. Pay attention to what you are taking into your body. Learn to preserve food, and to conserve energy. Learn some good breathing techniques, so you have mastery of your breath. Be clear. Follow a tradition with great roots. It is not important what tradition, your heart will tell you, but it must have great roots."

"We live in a world of energy. An important task at this time is to learn to sense or see the energy of everyone and everything -- people, plants, animals. This becomes increasingly important as we draw close to the World of the Fifth Sun, for it is associated with the element 'ether' -- the realm where energy lives and weaves. Go to the sacred places of the Earth to pray for peace, and have respect for the Earth which gives us our food, clothing, and shelter. We need to reactivate the energy of these sacred places. That is our work."

"One simple but effective prayer technique is to light white or baby-blue colored candles. Think of a moment in peace. Speak your intention to the flame and send the light of it on to the leaders who have the power to make war or peace."

Carlos reminds us this is a crucially important moment for humanity and for Earth. Each person is important.

He said the elders have opened the doors so that other races can come to the Mayan world to receive the tradition. "The Maya have long appreciated and respected that there are other colors, other races, and other spiritual systems. They know that the destiny of the Mayan world is related to the destiny of the whole world."

"The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It's not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It's encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Becoming Peaceful Change

Spring has arrived in all her glory. After much rainfall during the winter months, the coastal community where I live is alive with vibrant shades of green, purples, pinks, and yellows. I sit on my patio overlooking the quiet little canyon in Laguna Beach where I live and I feel peaceful. The giant cottonwood rustles as the breeze tickles her branches and the air is filled with bird songs and wind chimes. Peace.

It is these moments that I want to imprint on my heart and mind for future reference. When life's challenges "invite" me to explore the depths of what I've learned and who I am becoming, I want this peaceful moment in nature to soothe me, give me hope, and remind me that this too shall pass and balance will be restored.

Throughout the world we are watching situations where Mother Nature is actively tearing down everything in her path. It's difficult to see the impact of these events on the communities affected but we need to understand that this isn't a judgment or punishment for anything that people have done. Nature is not vengeful. She is going through a powerful process of transformation, restoring balance with the assistance of the elements. The dilemma is how do we come together to support the needs of those suffering without becoming hopeless or pessimistic? How do we envision a peaceful outcome and create hope?

Sandra Ingerman recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post, "How to Heal Toxic Energy."  She says,
"Throughout time spiritual teachings have taught that our outer world is a reflection of our own inner state of consciousness. When we look at the environmental pollution and the state of the world today we are seeing a reflection of our own inner world. If we want to change the world we need to focus on changing ourselves. And this includes the need to be more conscious of the thoughts we send out."(read full article)
We need to be conscious of our thoughts, words, and intentions, treating others with the kindness we would like to receive. As I have stated many times, we need to become the change we wish to see. How are you evolving? Consciously or unconsciously?

One of my favorite monthly newsletters is "Astro Alchemy" written by Simone Bulter. In her current newsletter she shares about the three eclipses we will experience between June 1 and July 1:
"The June 1 partial solar eclipse in jumpy Gemini (2:03 p.m. PDT) gets things going, followed by a total lunar eclipse in Sagittarius on June 15 and another partial solar eclipse in Cancer on July 1. Eclipses are known for bringing abrupt change, especially when they hit sensitive points in your chart...Consciousness is rapidly evolving as dimensions merge and a new world is born. It's our choice: adapt and flourish or resist and suffer.

Does something in your life need dramatic improvement? Since eclipses break through stagnant patterns, now's the time to align with the incoming energies and make a change..."(read the full report)
Here are a few suggestions for living more consciously with the intention of becoming part of the solution and helping to restore balance, first within yourself and then for the planet:

BE GRATEFUL. Gratitude transforms your negative thoughts and brings peace of mind. Make a daily list of ten things you are grateful for and read through them frequently. "When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears." (Anthony Robbins)

SPEND TIME IN NATURE. Sit with your back against a tree and relax. Just be. Take a walk in nature and listen to the sounds around you. Feel the wind, listen to the birds, smell the fragrance of the natural world.  "Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.” (George Washington Carver)

WATCH CHILDREN PLAYING. Or better still, play with a child! Pay attention to the freedom they experience when they are playing, especially in nature. "Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play." (Henri Matisse)

LAUGH. There is nothing as uplifting as laughing with friends. Seek out people who have a positive attitude about life and laugh often. Spend time involved in activities that encourage laughter. “Laughter is the spark of the soul.”

DANCE. Put on music that you love and move to it. You can be alone, with friends, in public, or in the safety of your living room. “To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.”

Celtic prayers have their roots in nature, the seasons, the elements and the beauty of the world around us. In closing I share this old Irish blessing with you.
May the blessing of light be on you, light without and light within.

May the blessed sunlight shine upon you and warm your heart till it glows,
Like a great peat fire, so that the stranger may come
and warm himself at it, as well as the friend.

And may the light shine out of the eyes of you,
like a candle set in the windows of a house,
Bidding the wanderer to come in out of the storm.

And may the blessing of the rain be on you - the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit so that all the little flowers may spring up,
And shed their sweetness on the air.

And may the blessing of the great rains be on you,
that they beat upon your spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there many a shining pool, and sometimes a star.
And may the blessing of the earth be on you - the great round earth;
May you ever have a kindly greeting for people you pass
as you are going along the roads.
Blessings of peace, love and light,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Living in Integrity

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who expressed her frustration with the lack of integrity she often encounters with businesses that claim to care about the environment but in fact have no clear understanding of what ethical environmental practices are. Documentaries abound exposing us to the unethical practices by the global banking community, pharmaceutical companies, and big corporations.

Human population growth has altered nature’s systems for maintaining long-term balance by reducing the impact of natural disasters. Through such interventions as fragmenting the forest into smaller and smaller pieces, harvesting timber for immediate profits, "importing" invasive plant and animal species, introducing genetically modified seeds into the food chain, suppressing natural wildfires leading to larger more destructive ones, and spraying for insects creating conditions for out-of-balance wildlife, we have interrupted the natural cycle that allows nature to take care of itself.

What is personal integrity and ethical behavior? We are in the midst of global change--our planet is evolving. How do we become part of the solution in restoring balance? How do we co-create the world we want to leave for our descendents? Mother Nature demonstrates restoring balance through natural disasters. She steps in and takes control of imbalances through earthquakes, floods, and tsunamis.

Sometimes we pray for change. We ask the Universe to show us the way to become our authentic self, a person of integrity. Discomfort forces us to change our situation, to move us into balance. But when we find ourselves losing a job, a home, friends or a spouse, we can feel like victims.

Two decades years ago I began to envision a new way of being, one that included living with nature all around me and a life where I was able to be my true, authentic self out in the world. I yearned for a home where fences did not surround me, a place where I could experience the natural world. The changes that had to occur for this dream to manifest have been extensive and if anyone had told me what the journey would look like I probably would have declined and settled for the familiar, limiting circumstances that I knew.

In response to my prayers the Universe invited me to go deep within myself and ask difficult questions. Each new step of the journey required me to consider what it meant to be my authentic self and what needed to shift in me if I wanted to stand in integrity. I was provided new opportunities to expand along the way, some easy and some very challenging: leaving my teaching career before retirement age; selling my home of twenty years to move into a small condo near the ocean; caring for my mother during the last five years of her life; going to Africa to learn traditional healing from a Zulu shaman; moving every three to five years; moving four times within six months.

But now here I am, settled in the town I’ve envisioned living in since adolescence, making my living through work I am passionate about, being of service to Spirit, and living on an amazing piece of property surrounded by the tranquil sounds of the natural world, within walking distance of the ocean.

This journey of life leads us through many adventures, asking us to work with  the situations our journey provides, learning to trust in the evolutionary process. In this process we can discover our true nature, our authentic self.

Nature can teach us how to regain our balance. Spending time alone with a tree, in a garden, at the ocean, or hiking on a favorite trail is the perfect way to go within and listen to your inner voice. Remember who you truly are, your authentic self. Your soul came here with a blueprint and lesson plan. However each of us gets to choose how we move through our days on Earth. We have free will. The path of self-discovery is one of remembering our true purpose, our authentic self, while engaged in this experience of life.

When we choose to flow with life, we have the opportunity to learn about the importance of integrity within others and ourselves. Before we can expect global integrity we must accept the responsibility of standing in our own truth. Then we become part of the solution, part of the co-creative process.

"A life lived with integrity, even if it lacks the trappings of fame and fortune, is a shining star in whose light others may follow in the years to come."
~ Denis Waitley

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Embracing the Shadow

Recently I asked a group of my students to spend the next four months getting to know their chakra energy centers personally and up close. The directive was to spend two weeks intimately connecting with the issues and lessons of each chakra. I knew this would be a powerful exercise but I had no idea how deep this would take all of us.

Intention is everything. Once I had given the assignment, the deep work began within me as well. I must admit some of my shadow issues - traits, fears, and hidden agendas - surfaced and I was humbled.

This is a planet of duality: yin/yang, light/shadow, sun/moon, day/night.  Each of us has a light and a shadow side. The light side is expressed through joy, compassion and unconditional love. Shadow is operating when fear, anger, resentment, hatred, and jealousy  are present. Through conscious awareness the shadow becomes a powerful tool for expanded perspective and a deepened awareness of self. Once we become comfortable that both light and shadow exist within us, we can explore these polarities with detachment, observing our subconscious beliefs without judgment, and step into our lives from a place of empowerment.

The first chakra, the "root" chakra, is located at the base of the spine and rules survival consciousness and represents our deepest unconscious and most primitive self. At the first chakra level we address issues of standing up for self within the family or group, recognizing self-blame, guilt or shame, and the need to clarify personal boundaries.

While exploring the first chakra I found myself confronted with recent decisions and the consequences of having ignored my intuition. I had not set clear boundaries and it had resulted in a difficult situation where a number of people were being affected. I had to rethink my responsibility for my students' overall highest and best good. I had to back track and reset boundaries. It meant that I had to make difficult decisions and there were hurt feelings along the way. It was messy and uncomfortable.  I experienced self-doubt, guilt, and self-blame for not having handled things in a more loving manner. This moved me into issues of the second chakra.

The physical energies of the second chakra symbolize that all relationships are essentially spiritual messengers. They bring into our lives, and we into theirs, revelations about our own strengths and weaknesses. From relationships within the home to those at work to community, no union is without spiritual value; each helps us to grow as individuals. We can more easily see the symbolic value of our relationships when we release our need to judge what and who has value and instead focus on honoring the person and the task with which we are involved.

The second chakra’s energy has an inherent duality. The unified energy of the first chakra, represented by the tribal mind, becomes divided into polairites in the second chakra. Understanding the significance of these opposites is key to working with second chakra issues.  It is crucial to accept our own "shadow" as part of our whole being. The spiritual challenge of the second chakra is learning to interact consciously with others to form unions with people who support our development and to release relationships that handicap our growth.

Throughout this process I considered how the first and second chakra issues where affecting my third chakra, personal power. The third chakra is our power chakra that helps us manage life on earth. It is very helpful and we need it as it is the center of our egoic self. However, it is has limited usefulness. When we try to do everything with this chakra, we get caught in anxiety and fear. Most personality problems are centered in this chakra because it has to do with defending oneself and polarizing judgments.

Managing the power of choice, with all its creative and spiritual implications, is the essence of the human experience. All spiritual teachings are directed toward inspiring us to recognize that the power to make choices is the dynamic that converts our spirits into matter, our words into flesh. Choice is the process of creation itself.

With this new perspective I was able to look with fresh eyes at the situation that had been presented, for myself and others, and accept the "invitation" to forgive myself and then take responsibility for the choices I had made. In the end I felt like I had made the correct decision but also recognized that in future situations I need to pay attention to my intuition before making decisions that affect a group that I am responsible for.

We have chakras that focus on issues of higher consciousness that are not stuck in polarities. The chakras focused on these issues are the fourth through seventh. The fourth chakra is located at the heart center and is connected to universal love, compassion, and empathy for self and others. Located at the throat, the fifth chakra is about speaking our truth, communication, and creative expression. Intuition, physic sight, and visualization is the focus of the sixth chakra located at the forehead (third eye) and the seventh chakra is your spiritual perfection and your connection to Divine Love.

Healing and balancing the chakras of the body is an important part of maintaining a healthy body, mind and spirit. Understanding the chakra system and restoring the balance of light and shadow is essential to wholeness and well being.

May you find the beauty that is inherent in your soul. May you appreciate the lessons provided through relationships and have gratitude for both light and shadow in your life and may you learn to embrace the shadow in your own life.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Blessing for 2011

Blessing others is a lovely Irish tradition. As we embark on a new year, in honor of all my Irish ancestors, I offer this beautiful blessing by one of my favorite Irish writers, John O'Donohue.

Blessed be the longing that brought you here and quickens your soul with wonder.

May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire that disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease to discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging - in love, creativity, and friendship - be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.

May the one you long for long for you.

May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.

May a secret providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.

May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.

May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.

May you know the urgency with which God longs for you. 

Blessings of peace, love, and light be upon you and yours in 2011 and beyond ~ Gretchen Crilly McKay