AWAKENING TO THE REAL YOU

“Awakening is not changing who you are but discarding who you are not.” Deepak Chopra

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Who are you really? Do you answer this question by looking at your appearance, defining what you have accomplished, or evaluating your spiritual life?

For many years, I primarily saw myself in terms of what I did for a living as a teacher or dancer. Growing up at the time when the women’s movement was very vocal, I was influenced by that and chose not to describe myself as a wife although I was one. I wasn’t a mother either so I felt that what I did in the world and how well I did it was most important.

Looking for the Real You

During those years, I was also exploring various spiritual disciplines, looking for a way to understand who I was at a deeper level. I cared about how I looked, but I didn’t rate my value based on appearance alone although I was still attached to the external value of how I earned my income.

When it came time to stop dancing and later to stop teaching it, I realized my identity was still strongly connected to being a dancer. As a skinny teen in the time of Marilyn Monroe, I had felt my body wasn’t womanly enough. But as a dancer, I was beautiful because all dancers were beautiful. Becoming a dancer fed my weak ego and empowered me, especially after skinny Twiggy became the icon of beauty.

Ballet East Dance Company

Ballet East Dance Company

There was another part of the dancer image to which I related. When I first studied modern dance, I was physically weak from childhood illnesses.   Modern dance built muscles that made me feel physically strong and it connected my body and mind. Experiencing that connection was empowering because it connected me with my inner strength.

Who You Are At the Heart Level

So, it was difficult to let go of this aspect of my life and look for the real source of who I was. Over time, I discovered I was truly a teacher at heart. I love to share what I know, discuss and question. I like to learn new things and search for answers in many ways and places, and it doesn’t matter anymore if I have an actual teaching position. My curiosity will lead me onto new paths, and I share what I learn with anyone who wants to listen.

If we ask the question, “Would I do this if I were retired?” it is likely that if “yes” is the answer, the core of that activity comes from the heart and soul. It is connected to a deeper part of us that sees how that activity has value for us and those with whom we interact.

After giving up dance, I turned to writing, a passion I had as a child, but my parents had not encouraged me so I never considered it a possibility for making a living. Much like teaching, it was a way for me to share what I had learned with others, but it led me to a greater realization. I had never given up my desire to be a healer despite having given up my desire to be a doctor when I was a child.

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Healing Yourself Will Reveal the Real You

I first had to learn to heal myself. For years I had searched for a way to strengthen and heal the still-lingering aspects of earlier illnesses. I worked with the body and mind to eat a healthy diet and develop a happy balanced mind. By working with positive thinking and manifestation techniques, I felt more powerful. I finally had a new inner strength that was opening my spiritual self to many possibilities.

In 2002 I began to write Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages because I was having trouble writing and meditating but needed some way to go deeper. Each day as I wrote, a new awareness came to the surface and opened my mind. Old concepts and grievances fell away. In my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness, the chapter that describes this experience is titled, “Breaking the Block.” But there was more than one block.

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We Must Listen to the Heart

I often prayed and meditated, leaving space for Spirit to speak to me, but at one point I realized I wasn’t listening. I was listening with my head but not my heart.   Then I discovered that I didn’t trust my own decisions because I didn’t trust the Creator (Spirit) so if I didn’t trust the Creator how could I expect my requests to be answered.

I learned that sometimes we can’t move forward because we haven’t let go of the past, and we continue to hold on to the fear that limited us in a previous situation. Nothing will change until the fear is released, but we have to acknowledge we have fear, rather than suppressing it, if we want to heal the wound caused by the fear.

Working through the Morning Pages, I sloughed off old thinking and resentments one by one. I shed many thoughts I did not need that stood in the way of my growth. Also working with transformational kinesiology helped energetically to release unhelpful thoughts and created a community with other women who had similar issues.

Awakening to the Real You

This process of going deeper is like the snake shedding its skin. By letting go of what we think we need, we find a great freedom and grow a new skin. Without all the old ideas and negative emotions that have kept us stuck, we awaken to who we are not and who we truly are.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                       ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  (video)Tarcher Talks:  Julia Cameron – Morning Pages,  Eckhart Tolle on Being Yourself (video),  Do Your Have An Inner Critic – Tolle and Deepak Chopra (video)

AWAKENING TO THE NEW STORY OF LOVE

“Some day after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

orion-nebula-space-galaxyHow in touch are you with the cosmos? Do you feel it’s important to understand how the Universe works? What, if anything, does this have to do with your life?

Brian Swimme’s documentary  Journey of the Universe is a powerful film. I recently watched it with a group of like-minded people who see themselves as part of All that is. What Swimme emphasized was that we need a new story about who we are and how we are part of the Universe. In fact, he pointed out that we are beginning to live in a way that is coherent with our actual knowledge of the Universe when we see ourselves as connected with all life.

The Universe and the Earth Are Aware

The Universe is aware and as we become more in touch with the earth and more concerned about its well-being, we tap into that awareness and connect with it. This is just another way of saying that we are all One. Continue reading

DANCING TO THE DANGER OF ASSUMPTIONS

“Begin challenging your assumptions. Your assumptions are your window to the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile or the light won’t come in.” Alan Alda

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Have you made any assumptions lately that turned out to be wrong? Are you quick to make assumptions or do you explore a situation before deciding what you believe?

We all make assumptions every day and many of our beliefs about life are based on assumptions. We may make judgments about people based on little evidence and proceed to take action based on those judgments. If our assumptions are wrong, they can lead to disaster.

Assumptions May Hide Lies

When I was teaching in high school, I had a student who frequently told dramatic stories about her parents. Having taught for many years by that time, I retained my skepticism because I knew teenagers often embellish the truth to their advantage. When I met the parents and talked to other teachers, it was clear that her parents were not the people she described.

I have to admit this student was very convincing and I had sometimes assumed a story was true. It isn’t always easy to sort out the truth or to even be clear that we are making an assumption. For example, I recently made an assumption about outdoor mural artists that I discovered was incorrect when I attended a religion and arts conference a few weeks ago.

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styleweekly.com

We May Not Realize We Have Made An Assumption

I have always assumed that most artists who paint on buildings are basically graffiti artists, often talented but untrained, but I wasn’t consciously aware that I made this assumption. At the conference, when Ed Trask, a very successful, talented and well-trained outdoor mural artist spoke to us about the people who do this art, I realized how ignorant I really was about the subject.

Based on Ed’s presentation and our tour around Richmond that day, I learned that most of these artists have studied art like any other artist and are often well-paid for their work. Looking closely at the murals, I began to appreciate the detail and artistry of these paintings. With accurate information, my assumptions about mural artists changed.

The Danger of Assumptions

Unlike these two examples, there are other places in our lives where making assumptions may be dangerous. Sherman Alexie points out his concern: “In the middle of the night when you are ambiguously ethnic, like me, when you’re brown, beige, mauve, sienna, one of those lighter browns in the Crayola box, you have to be careful of the cops and robbers, because nobody’s quite sure what you are, but everybody has assumptions.”

What we are seeing right now is how deeply assumptions around race permeate our culture. The number of recent murders of black men by police is staggering, and I suspect they are based on any number of assumptions. One assumption is that whatever the police do, they will not be held accountable, even if they kill an unarmed, non-violent person.

Another assumption is that if a person runs away from the police that means he is guilty of something illegal, and it’s okay to shoot or harm him physically. It never seems to occur to the police that a young black man may run away from them simply because he fears them. Our assumptions are often based on such stereotypes that are not truths; they are distortions. But the problem is that we may not always know the truth, and we often have to dance around it, hoping for the best rather than ask the questions that needs to be asked and assume the suspicious person is innocent unless we have proof the opposite is true.

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The Danger of Assumptions Is That They May Be Lies

As a woman born at the end of World War II, I’ve seen many changes take place in the treatment of women. It is hard for me to even grasp that for part of my grandmother’s life, it was not legal for her to vote. When I was 27 years old, the Supreme Court struck down the laws that prohibited blacks and whites from marrying. A few years later, when I was divorced, the credit my husband and I had both worked to earn belonged to him only.

All these laws were based on the assumption that one group of people is inferior to another so that the “superior” group can retain control over the other. But this assumption is a lie. The reality is that we are all supposed to be treated equally in this country and the law is supposed to support that. Clearly we have still not reached a time when this theory is a reality because many people still cling to these lies of inferiority as truth.

We Believe In Lies Because We’re Afraid

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The FourAgreements says, “When we believe in lies, we cannot see the truth, so we make thousands of assumptions and take them for truth. One of the biggest assumptions we make is that the lies we believe are the truth.” So why do we choose to believe these lies? Because they serve a useful purpose for us or simply because we are afraid of the truth.

Fear is at the base of all negative emotion and behavior. When we can release it and look beyond it, we can come to a place where that emotion does not color our experiences. When we find ourselves believing without a doubt that something is true, it is worthwhile to question what information this is based on. We must learn to challenge our own assumptions.

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Our Intuition May Help Us Avoid the Danger of Assumptions

There are two times when I know I need to challenge my assumptions. First if I start defending my view point and “digging my feet in” I know I need to stop and question why I am being so insistent. That leads me to the second awareness. In that case, I feel an uneasiness or a sense that something isn’t quite right and my intuition is suggesting I reconsider my assumption.

In the areas of our lives and society that are not working, we need to examine what is at the core of the issue and challenge ourselves to explore it until we are sure the path we are taking is the best one. It may require learning some new steps in this dance of life. As Alda suggests, we need to be open so that there is room in our thinking for the light to come through.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                      ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: The Dangers of Your Unconscious Assumptions About OthersExploring the Psychological Motives of Racism

AWAKENING TO SPIRITUAL CREATIVITY

“First one seeks to become an artist by training the hand. Then one finds it is the eye that needs improving. Later one learns it is the mind that wants developing, only to find that the ultimate quest of the artist is in the spirit.” Larry Brullo

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Vincent Van Gogh’s Olive Trees with Yellow Sky and Sun

Are you creative in any way? Do you feel a need to express your creativity? How do you express it? How does this connect to your spirituality?

Creativity is not a simple subject. In this time when rationality is still valued in the dominant culture, the non-physical aspects of creativity and spirituality are not always considered important. In this country, arts programs are the first to be cut in the public schools despite numerous studies that indicate how artistic activity is significantly valuable to the development of young minds.

The Spiritual and Creative Are One

Despite that, the creative and the spiritual often intermingle, for they both come from an internal, non-physical connection. On the non-physical level, I cannot tell them apart for they both seem to come from an inner knowing. The idea for a poem appears any time of the day or night and is streamed to me from an inner source. It flows onto the paper. I do not think about it initially. I may edit it later, deciding what to keep, but I never interfere with the original flow.

As Julia Cameron says, “Creativity requires faith. Faith requires that we relinquish control.” We have to trust that inner part of ourselves. Not only does creating require faith, but it requires us to experiment, to play, and to explore the unknown. Even the most realistic painting is not just a pastoral scene, it is also the reflection of the artist’s vision and skill.

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Sean Hedges-Quinn

Recently, I attended the Marsha Powell Festival of Religion and the Arts at VCU in Richmond, Virginia. I spent three days immersed in lectures and activities including a wide range of artistic expression and theory on how art and spirituality are intertwined in various settings and in the artistic mind.

Understanding the Creative Mind

My husband Charles Davidson, a Van Gogh scholar, was on the first panel along with Cliff Edwards, another Van Gogh scholar, and Laura Kreiselmaier whose presentation was on the concept of transliminality in art. They provided a fascinating look at Van Gogh.

Anyone who has read about Van Gogh knows that he had a volatile temperament, so the concept of transliminality that Laura introduced was intriguing. Transliminality is the tendency for thoughts, feelings, perceptions, sensations, images, ideas and intuitions to move in and out of one’s consciousness. This happens more frequently with artistic people than with those who are not, and it certainly describes my experience with art.

Artists Awaken to Spiritual Creativity

Because I spent many years as a modern dancer and choreographer, it is virtually impossible for me to hear music without dance images coming into mind. A part of me always wants to move to music and so my mind does the choreography even when I’m sitting still. I also feel a sensual response to any music I find pleasurable.

Speaking about her art, Georgia O’Keefe said, “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—the things I had no words for.” So what was the source of this knowing? How did she or any artist know what color or shape to use?

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Georgia O’Keefe – Cala Lillies with Red Anenome

Certainly training contributes to an artist’s expression, but there is a deeper, spiritual source that also guides what is created. Vincent Van Gogh was a deeply spiritual man. At one point he even wanted to be a minister. This intertwining of spirituality and art is deeply explored in Charles Davidson’s wonderful book Bone Dead and Rising: Vincent Van Gogh and the Self Before God.

The Spiritual Dimension Awakens Art

Van Gogh’s paintings are vibrant and alive with energy and light, especially the flowers and landscapes. The artist clearly sees more than what the average person sees. His pictures tell us about what he feels when he looks at the scene, person, or object. Because he is so intently connected to nature and sees beyond the surface of life, he offers us more than what we see, he pictures a spiritual dimension as well.

What was so wonderful about the conference I attended was that I saw many ways that artists are touched by their religious and spiritual awareness. One artist, Ernesto Pujol, creates silent performances in public places, recognizing that our endless chatter and doing distracts us from our spiritual and creative centers deep within. His work was inspired by Buddhist mindfulness.

Ernesto Pujol's Walking Ground

Ernesto Pujol’s Walking Ground

Fleming Jeffries’ sees drawing as a way to slow the mind and get in touch with the unconscious. Much of her art is about connecting deeply with nature or her environment. Currently living in Qatar, she must navigate with empathy the complexities of living and creating art as a non-Muslim woman in a Muslim society.

In a world that is still so attached to rational thinking, we need to develop our creativity, in whatever area suits us, in order to develop our whole selves. One does not have to be an artist to be creative. Business people, technicians, doctors, teachers and all people have opportunities that arise where they have to use creative thinking to solve a problem.

But it is perhaps art—dance, visual, theater, or music—that touches our hearts most deeply and is a place where we can all experience the Divine and our own spiritual creativity.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Transliminality,  Awakening to Wildness: One With Nature, The Relationship Between Spirituality and Artistic Expression: Cultivating the Capacity for Imagining

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AWAKENING TO THE SPRING OF LIFE

“We cannot stop the winter or summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or stop them from being other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.” Gary Zukav

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What does spring mean to you? How do you change your life in the spring? How do you enliven your life or your community at this time of year?

Spring is about new life. Each year it awakens in many ways, distracting us from the winter blahs with flowers we haven’t seen for a year springing to life. Yesterday as I walked through the botanical gardens with a friend, trillium, buttercups, trout lily and a dozen colorful flowers peeked through the brown leaves that had blanketed the ground all winter. Continue reading

AWAKENING TO THE FEMININE

“The world will be saved by the western woman.” Dalai Lama

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When did you learn to love yourself? love others?  Do you feel accepted for who you truly are?  If not, how can you change that?

This week I attended a reading by Massimilla Harris and Bud Harris of their latest book Into the Heart of the Feminine: An Archetypal Journey to Renew Strength, Love, and Creativity. They are both Jungian analysts, and although the book is about the feminine, it was written for men and women, for we all have both feminine and masculine aspects to our psyche.

The book explores the harm that is done to us when we have not had a loving nurturing mother and the deficiencies that exist in our society as a result of not honoring the feminine. The authors explore these negative situations but also describe how we can heal them. I was deeply moved by their stories and insights.

Women’s Lives Have Changed Dramatically

Having lived for seventy years now, I have seen many changes in our society. When I was born, women had been allowed to vote for only 24 years. My mother was born in 1919, a year before women in the US voted for the first time. Although woman in other countries have served in the government at the highest level, we have yet to elect a woman as president in this country.

Recently, when a young man read my memoir, he was shocked by some of my experiences. When I was divorced in 1977, I had a master’s degree while my husband had not completed undergraduate school; however, as a high school teacher I made $7,000 less than he made as a policeman. Because of my higher degree, his lawyer was able to keep him from having to pay alimony. Although we had both worked all those years, our credit was his. I could not get a credit card until I established my separate credit and that wasn’t easy.

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One of the reasons that so many older women who have always worked have such dire needs when they retire is that they have so much less Social Security than most men because they have earned lower wages for so many years. The lack of equity isn’t over when the laws change. It lives on in the consequences of former discrimination.

Awakening to the Feminine Will Take Us Deeper

The lack of respect for the feminine also affects men and women in much deeper ways. The most obvious is the effect it has had on our mothers and the effect they have had on us. It is in that relationship that we are first nurtured and loved or first experience the lack of love, and those experiences have a profound effect on our emotional development. This topic is explored extensively in Into the Heart of the Feminine.

Mary Cassett

What were you taught by your mother and father about who you should be and how you should behave? How much of that was based on society’s expectations of your sex?

Feminine Values Can Heal Patriarchal Extremes

The patriarchal values of power, achievement, and competition have dominated our society and helped create the value of separation that exists in its extreme with our uncompromising current Congress. In contrast, the feminine values community, respect, love, and cooperation. If we have not learned these in the homes where we grew up, we are unlikely to learn them in the business world that is now too often focused on money at the expense of the welfare of their employees, especially women.

Awakening to the Feminine Teaches Us To Love

The truth is that every child needs to grow up with parents who love themselves so that they can love their children. Loving ourselves means we accept and respect all aspects of ourselves, do the best we can each day, and don’t belittle ourselves when we fail. We need to be able to test, explore, and experiment with who we are in our quest to find our deepest, truest selves.

To do that requires the belief that we are all right, that who we are is good. As Masimilla and Bud Harris remind us, life is a journey in which we can choose to grow and heal ourselves so we can be our best selves. If we can change ourselves, we can change our society to embrace the best of masculine and feminine qualities. If we can do that, we will have a society that meets the needs of all its people.

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Awakening to the Feminine Can Save the World

When the Dalai Lama stated that the world will be saved by the western woman, I was surprised, but compared to the restrictions on women in the rest of the world, we may be the very ones with the power to do that. We just have to heal ourselves and know that is our destiny, for it is the feminine spirit whose time has come. If we don’t do it, who will?

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Jungian Analysts Deal with the Medusa Within, Relationships: Why Maternal Love Is So Important For Us All

AWAKENING TO UNDERSTAND

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Marie Curie

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Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

When you fear something, do you try to understand it? If you understand it, are you able to release the fear?

I’m not sure I agree with Marie Curie that there is “nothing in life to be feared,” but I often find that my fear goes away when I am able to understand a person or situation. Feeling fearful is often our first response when something new confronts us, especially if it appears to be negative.

Years ago when I first discovered I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I had many tests run to determine exactly what the problem was. It was a tense moment when I picked up the phone and heard my doctor’s voice. What was he going to tell me? Was this curable?

Understanding May Guide Us To New Solutions

“Well, Georganne, the bad news is that you have nine things wrong with you, but the good news is that we can cure them all.” I was surprised and relieved at the same time. There were chemical imbalances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and absorption problems, but this doctor knew how to heal it all naturally.

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By lavender3457

As I learned more about what I needed to do, I understood it was within my ability to get well. My fear diminished, and the process of healing taught me how I needed to live in order to stay healthy when I was healed. It was a wonderful gift in disguise.

Awakening to Understand

Understanding may be the solution to releasing our fear, but how do we find that understanding? When we have a conflict with another person, we can resolve it only if we are willing to consider the other’s point of view and treat it with respect. We don’t have to agree with it or decide to do things another way, but sometimes we can release the fear in the conflict simply by knowing the other side of the issue. Usually, the unknown is what we fear most, but as long as we are afraid of an honest conversation, we will never discover the truth.

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Fear Blocks Understanding

The reality is that the natural fear that protects us from physical harm is the only kind of fear that is positive and helps us. The psychological fears that underlie so much of our behavior often need to be released before we can understand. When we release our fear first, before trying to understand a different point of view, we release the block that impairs our vision of the other’s way of looking at the situation. To learn more about the technique I teach to release fear, see this link.

At the moment, I’m very concerned about the state of Congress because I know that the amount of anger that seems to control decisions there is fear-based. All anger is. I often wonder if any time is spent in bi-partisan groups trying to understand what all the options and consequences are when a decision needs to be made. They seem so caught up in trying to prove they are right that they forget to focus on want is most needed by the people they serve.

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Awakening To Understand Leads To Solutions

When we find ourselves feeling fearful, it is perhaps wise to ask, “What don’t I understand here? What is the whole picture?” Going beyond our feelings and perceptions and trying to imagine what the other related ideas are may help us expand our understanding and adjust our own point of view when necessary, offering us new and better solutions.

Each time we have a new understanding, we widen our ability to perceive. We increase our experiences so that the next time a similar situation arises, we are better able to cope with it. That’s how we grow in life. If we are unwilling to do this, our ability to understand others will simply shrink and diminish our relationships. Growth is always preferable.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

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