On Breathing Light

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The journey began Monday evening, when the iPad which had gone dark over the past few weeks, and refused to start up inspite of my best attempts of geekery, decided to come to life. I went searching in the library app for something good to read, and an incredible journey into breath began when I downloaded, and read, that same evening, from cover to cover – WBBA – but more about that a bit later….

Breath has come into the forefront for me this week. There is a story in the Upanishads where the student asks the teacher – who among sight, speech, hearing, touch and breath, is the most powerful in life? The teacher says – ask each of them to leave, one at a time, and you shall know. When it comes the turn of breath to leave, the student’s question is answered…

I have been led to work with, observe it, and develop a greater awareness of the physical act of breathing this week. When the emotions rise, when I feel the stress level change, I have tried to pause and check my breathing pattern and cadence. The interesting thing about breath is that it is easy to observe, because it is always with us, even when it is temporarily is taken away. My observations have been quite a revelation. It is no surprise that I have discerned a direct correlation between feeling stressed and the disturbance in my breathing pattern.

So, how do I plan to use this breath awareness? I believe that, with practice, one could modulate, if not to some degree even consciously control, the autonomous breath and the nervous system connected to it. When our new breathing practice becomes habit, we shall find an emergence of new patterns, new pathways, new possibilities.

For when breath remains, all is possible in the field of possibilities, and then some… is it not?

What began on Monday evening, came to a head this morning. I share with you, my entry from my meditation journal:

There was a such a surge… a wave as high as me… in the final ten minutes… that it literally seemed to push me sideways… the intensity and breadth of the light was such as if it became like the air around me and that I was breathing it with every breath… it held no force, it’s nature was gentleness and pure being, and I was awash in its wholeness… it felt that the white light was energizing every single alveoli in the lungs… cleaning, cleansing, oxygenating, healing, liberating, and filling me with the life force that travels between every channel of the many layers of my being… it felt like the same way that I might have felt in my first awareness of being born into this physical world… the aggregated energy of all the prayers she might have said from the instant that the was aware of me, until her last… and with that breath of first new light, I felt such immense gratitude for the experience that I was led to celebrate the breath of light and life with you… and I hope… no, it’s more than hope… it is a knowing that every breath you breathe is also filled with light… and that you are enough light in this moment, and you will be enough in the next moment… and when the breath stops and leaves, the aggregate of the light you breathed and shared would also have been enough…

for when we add or subtract the infinite from the infinite, the infinite breath of love and light still remains… and that, breath, in life and what we call death, is worthy of celebration… so, let that celebration of love continue… even when breath becomes air….

Thank you. For awareness. For breath and light. For breathing light into me.

– Kumud

P. S. Join us Sunday, Feb 17 at 9am ET / 730 pm IST as we celebrate, breath, light and breathing light. Namaste – Kumud

Breathing light during one of my walks…

The one who took eternal breath, Feb 17 2016…

Why Spirituality – I Wonder

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For those of us who have been in and around the weekly conversations with the #spiritchat community on topics related to spirituality and spiritual practice, the answer to “why spirituality” may be plain as daylight. Many of us may even think the question to be irrelevant, or take the answer for granted.

Yet, I have been wondering about this question over the past few days, with a sense of wonder, with a sense and spirit of inquisitive, curious, scientific examination.

So, let me share my sense of wonder with you, and ask the short question – “why spirituality”? What is it about your ‘spiritual practice(s)’ that sets them apart from the rest of your daily life? How do you integrate the results and outcomes of your spirituality into solving the challenges of life and living? Has your approach to ‘spirituality’ changed as your life situation(s) have changed? If yes, how so?

I have often found that the answer to the question, particularly the question that is borne of wonder instead of being borne out of doubt, is already present in our awareness. Over the past few weeks, in preparation for spring, I have been doing some ‘house cleaning’ of my books, media, music and notebooks. During one such episode this week, I came across a few books that were given to be by my mother over my past few visits to India.

As I was sorting through them, one of the ‘bookmarks’ that I came across was a trifold brochure called ‘why spirituality’! The brochure, published in 2011, contains a few quotes from the then leader (Chariji) of the ‘Sahaj Marg’ foundation (http://sahajmarg.org). It contained not one, but a few answers to my sense of wonder. Let me share some of them with you in the quotes below – maybe one or more of them will resonate with you.

“Spirituality is the need for an inner existence. The whole idea of spirituality is to revive in us that which is sleeping in us – the true inner being, the Self”

Why Spirituality? It is a path to an awakening within. It is a yearning for something more than the routine of daily, worldly life. In spirituality, life becomes a wondrous journey to uncover that inner Self. Wonder leads to a wondrous journey. Yes!

“As a bird needs two wings to fly, a human being needs the two wings of existence, the spiritual and the material, to lead a natural and harmonious life”

Why Spirituality? For harmony, for the restoration of balance. Balance is restored by integrating a spiritual practice into daily life. A practice that blends into our daily living like sugar dissolves into tea.

“Happiness is the natural inner condition that we will reach when we have removed all unnecessary things”

Why Spirituality? Spiritual practice leads us to find true happiness and love. Joy is the quality of the inner Self, and is nurtured in spirituality, along with other qualities of the heart – courage, hope, faith, wonder, compassion, tolerance and, most of all, universal love. By following a spiritual practice, we have the possibility to experience universal love, the divine essence, within our own heart.

The brochure holds more wondrous messages. I shared the thoughts above with you, so that perhaps, you too shall wonder with a sense of inquiry – why spirituality? What is this spiritual path that I walk in my practice? How does my spirituality grow my heart and its inherent qualities, and the sense of joy and love within it?

Let the wondering begin. Let us share our wonder, our heart, and our joy and universal love with each other. And I will keep cleaning, exploring, practicing, uncovering more wonder. Namaste.

Kumud @AjmaniK

P.S. Join the #spiritchat community in our weekly twitter conversation – Sunday, Feb 10 at 9amET / 730pm India. Bring your sense of wonder with you, as we share the answers to ‘why spirituality’, over a cup of tea. Thank you!

After the storm, a double rainbow...
After the storm, a double rainbow outside my door…

The Spirit of Loyalty

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“I am loyal to the throne. Who are you loyal to?”

It is interesting that we can watch a two-plus hour movie (during a polar vortex shut-in) filled with action, and the one fragment that adheres to us, days later. In the movie “Black Panther”, the question above was asked by Okoye (the General) of Nakia (the future Queen), in the moments after there is upheaval in the country of Wakanda.

I thought about the question that evening, and it kept returning to my brain box for a few days. I am still thinking about it. Let us begin at the beginning. What is loyalty? One definition of loyalty is a strong feeling of support of allegiance. The other synonyms are faithfulness, obedience, adherence, devotion and the like. It would seem that loyalty would be a good quality or virtue to develop in our character, yes?

Before we answer the original question (who are we loyal to?), maybe we can reflect on some related questions. Where does our sense of loyalty come from? What qualities in others incite, grow and sustain loyalty within us? What makes our loyalties wax and wane over time? Have you experienced real-world examples of long-term, unwavering, even permanent loyalty in your life? If so, how did such examples of loyalty influence you, your life?

Now that we have put the questions out upfront, we can reflect on them and probe for the answers. If we choose not to probe, we can cast the questions out like seeds, and wait for the answers to bloom in their own time. Either way, if we remain loyal to the process of asking, and then provide space and time for the answers to be received by us, the process has a chance of working. In this increasingly hurried world, we can perhaps reflect on the question – how loyal are we to the process of receiving (answers)?

But I digress a bit. As I asked myself some of the questions about loyalty, one common answer that seemed to emerge was that a lot of our loyalties, allegiances, adherences, even devotions – are transitional and transient in nature. Time and space and relationships change as we transit through life, and so do our loyalties. Even the long-term loyalties of satellites (moons) to planets are constantly changing (albeit ever so slightly) over time. (Aside: what examples of ‘deep loyalty’ may Mother Nature reveal to us?) So what chance do we mere mortals, of finite life-spans, have of developing and honoring permanent loyalty?

Maybe we need to look beyond, if we are to experience a permanent sense of loyalty. Our physical frames of existence and our actions within them, bound as they are by time, space and causation, are bound by impermanence. Hence, the resulting loyalties are (mostly) impermanent. What if we were to go beyond the physical, and into the spiritual domain? If we were to become and be meditative, examine our heartspace and feel our heartsense, what deeper loyalties may be revealed in That light?

Before she asked that question of Nakia, Okoye actually said… “I am loyal to the throne, no matter who sits on it“. If we ask the same question of our heart, what will be the reply? Who sits on our heart’s throne? Who are we really loyal to? Does that relationship have a nature of permanence?

Kumud @AjmaniK

On behalf of the #SpiritChat community, I invite you to join us for a conversation on this topic – Sunday, February 3 at 9amET / 730pm India. We would love to know – who sits on your heart’s throne? Namaste.

Postscript: Fragments of a poem, that keep coming, as answers to the question… if you can think of additions, please share in the comments… Namaste…

There may be be love without cause,
Just because…
But what is the nature, of cause without love?

There may be clouds without rain,
With loud refrain…
But what is the worth, of rain without clouds?

There may be heat without light,
Warming the night…
But have we felt the love, of light without heat?

There can be sight without vision,
A heart’s decision…
But can there be vision without sight?

– A Traveler’s Loyalty

Nature-Inspired Loyalty

The Spirit of Mentoring

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I miss my mentors. All of those who have passed…

My Dad was perhaps my first real mentor. Long before there were those outside the home, and they were few and far between because good mentors are hard to find, Dad was there. Even though he had an inclination towards silence and stillness, it was his carefully measured, softly uttered, frugally spoken words that still linger with me.

Words uttered on a railway platform as the train was departing and I had come to bid him farewell till the next school break – “I expect nothing but the best of effort from you”. When you are in middle school, that stuff somehow stays with you for a while. In my case, it’s been a few decades and I still remember that message from my mentor. The home was always stocked with all kind of books (mostly from American fiction authors!) and music (Indian and western). It was his way of creating an environment for me to ‘learn’ outside of my education. And there was much more. That was Dad’s mentorship.

My mother’s sister’s husband, my second Dad, was pretty much cut from the same mold of silence. I got to know him well because I spent fourteen years (from age seven) growing up in his household. His mentorship to me came through his relentless devotion to providing for his family. He worked long, long hours working the family business, and you did not want to be ‘talked to’ by him after he got home after a twelve hour day. His reverence and dedication in celebrating the major Indian festivals was also a great lesson in ‘slowing down’ for me. And when it came time for me to leave his home and come to the USA for graduate studies, he was instrumental in convincing my parents that it would be okay. He was my biggest cheerleader, and that gave me tremendous belief in myself. That was Uncle’s mentorship.

When I moved to the US, his youngest brother here became my ‘American Dad’ and mentor. He and his family provided a sense of ‘home away from home’ that was vital for someone whose nearest family was on the other side of the world. An electrical engineer for Ford, he always kept a keen eye on me all through graduate school. I looked forward to meeting up with every Thanksgiving and Christmas, so that I could learn from him about how to raise a family with a blend of American and Indian values. A lot of his wonderful advice about faith, career and family, continues to linger with me. That was my Ann Arbor uncle.

And while all three of them have physically departed, I can honestly say that I often find myself asking – what would Dad (or my Uncles) do in such and such situation? I can also say that I have had a very tough time replacing them as mentors. The closest ‘replacement’ was my NASA mentor – I am greatly indebted for his decision to take me under his wing when I was first starting my career.

All this talk about ‘male’ mentors doesn’t mean that I did not have any ‘female’ role models. I have talked about them (my Mother, my Aunts, my maternal grandmother) extensively in many previous #spiritchat blog posts. For some reason, as I sat in morning #meditation this past Sunday, I was asked these questions – Who are your mentors? Who are you mentoring? How are mentors different from role models? And what about our (spiritual) guides? How do I go about identifying some new mentors in my life? What effect is the (apparent) lack of influential mentors in my life having on me and my growth?

I share these questions that were asked of me with you, with the intent that perhaps you can relate to (some of) them. Yes, we have all the power within us to do great things, but a lot of that potential lies latent – like fuel needing a spark. What if the heart-based guidance of a good mentor could ‘raise us to that stage’, and help us manifest our power, so that we may expand our experience of truth, awareness and joy?

Kumud @AjmaniK

Share your stories about mentors and mentoring in our weekly twitter conversation – Sunday, January 27 at 9amET / 730pm India in #SpiritChat. Who knows – maybe you will find a new mentor, or have an opportunity to mentor someone you haven’t even met yet? Namaste – Kumud

Swami Vivekananda in Boston
Swami Vivekananda – A mentor whom I met through his books, poetry, lectures and essays…

On Ritual and Science

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A New Daily Ritual

Every morning, some days even before our multiple rounds of morning tea (or coffee) were yet to be completed as we sat by the pool overlooking the vast lake, she would arrive. Her smiling, glowing, full-of-life greeting was always the same – “Namaste, Sir. Namaste, Madam”. She would be decked with gold jewelry as if she was ready to attend an Indian wedding. This ritual became part of every single one of our ten days in Kerala.

She was the housekeeper who took care of the entire span of the five bedroom home that we were staying in. After her welcome greeting, she would immediately start her work. Broom in hand, she would start her slow back and forth walk. First, in all the common areas and all the walkways. Then, when we were at breakfast or at lunch, she and her helpers would take care of the bedrooms and attached bathrooms. Every time I saw her, she was working, focused on her task at hand, standing tall, head slightly bowed, radiating pride. If she ever took a break, I did not see it.

Adherence to Ritual

Now that I have been back for almost two weeks, my sleep cycle has mostly reset itself. Except when it isn’t. I was awake at 1am last night, and decided to pull the “Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda (Vol. 1)” from my go-to stack of books. Randomly opening the book, I found myself in the midst of the essay on “Karma Yoga” (Science of Work) titled “We help ourselves, not the world”. It happens to be one of my favorites because it includes the following quote:

This world is like a dog’s curly tail, and people have been striving to straighten it out for hundreds of years; but when they let it go, it has ruled up again. How could it be otherwise? One has to know how to work with attachment, then one will not be a fanatic. If there were no fanaticism in the world, it would make much more progress than it does now.When we have avoided fanaticism, then alone will we work well.

It often comes to pass that we so fervently believe in our path, our vision, our righteousness, our desire to do good that we may unwittingly take on the traits of working like fanatics. Our work-ritual becomes our refuge, our excuse to become so hyper-focused on our goal that we lose sight of detachment and the real purpose of our life’s work. We think that our single-minded devotion to our cause is doing good to the world. But is it really so?

Ritual and Philosophy

At the beginning of the same essay, Vivekananda posits that there are three components of every religion: philosophy, mythology and ritual. Philosophy forms the essence; mythology explains and illustrates through legendary lives of great men and women; and ritual gives to that philosophy a concrete form so that every one may relate to it. Ritual is in fact concretized philosophy.

Ritual leads to symbols, to language, to communication and connection. In its pure state, it is in fact the seed bed of the science of work. In addition, the connection between word and thought often occurs through symbols. When I offer a greeting to you with folded hands and a radiant smile, my whole being assumes the symbology of love. The energy transfer in this ritual needs no scientific proof – try it and experience the goodness that it creates for the world, and more importantly, within you.

The Ritual of Hope

Her name was Asha. It simply means, Hope. On my last day at the lake house, I engaged her in a bit of conversation. A high-school graduate, married to Shenoy, mother of two kids – a boy aged eight and a girl aged six. She worked because she wanted to help supplement her husband’s income, so that they could save up enough to send their boy and girl to college. Her philosophy in life seemed to reflect her simplicity. “Do the work that is assigned to you with joy”.

Every time I think of her approach and attitude to her work, I draw hope from her daily ritual. She seemed to model Vivekananda’s suggestion for us regarding work:

It is the level-headed person, the calm person, of good judgement and cool nerves, of good sympathy and love, who does good work and thus good to themselves.

Thank you, Asha. I am going to adopt your attitude to work. And if you will allow me, I also plan to adopt your family – not to help you, but to you help myself. For you reminded me of the power of joy in work, and making work play.

Playing with Ritual

And as I played with this topic, it dawned on me that ritual is embedded in spi(ritual)ity. It may seem like wordplay, but maybe there’s more to it. There’s more. Ritual begins with ‘ritu’, which means season, i.e. in every new season, we can adopt a new set of actions, create new rituals. A further reduction leads us to ‘rit’, which reminds me of ‘writ’ and the Sanskrit ‘reet’ – which means code (of ethics), tradition, and yes, concretized philosophy. Finally, there is ‘ri’ – which is the root word for ‘rishi’ – those who follow the path of goodness and become illumined.

So much for science, eh? Sometimes it just gets in the way of play. Maybe we will just rebrand ritual as #workscience. What do you say? Who’s with me?

Kumud @AjmaniK

P.S. Join us in our weekly conversation on twitter with the #spiritchat community. Sunday, January 20 at 9amET / 730pm India. We will talk about the role of ritual(s) in our lives. Which ones did we inherit? Which ones serve us well? Which ones do we need to walk away from? How do our ritual(s) help us on the spiritual path? Does science understand the effect that ritual(s) have on our emotional and spiritual well-being? So many questions. Come share – in the ritual that has become an integral part of my well-being. Namaste – Kumud.

Asha in Kerala
Asha – the Hope of Kumarakom, Kerala

The Heart’s Revival and Revitalization

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The Amazing Race

Five airports, four flights, three airlines and two days later, the heart that began its journey on a pre-dawn, cold, rainy morning in NorthEast Ohio reached its destination in a sunny, warm, humid, sleepy hamlet of Kumarakom, south of the city of Kochi, in the southernmost state, Kerala, of India.

It felt like we had been in an episode of “The Amazing Race” over the past forty eight hours of traveling. Except that this was a one-team episode, and so we were the first to arrive at the destination…

The Hole in the Heart

It had been over two years, actually closer to three, that I had been back to India. The passing of my Mom in February 2016, the last of my two sets of parents (birth and sustenance), had created a small hole in my heart that had grown slowly bigger as the weeks turned to months, quarters and then years. After the two year mark, I had begun to wonder, when the road back home would open up to my heart again. The longer I stayed away, the weaker the pull to go back became.

My wife must have felt my fading away. In mid July, the visionary that she is of great intuition, made the decision. It was time to return. In a whirlwind of messages between close family and friends on WhatsApp, a location was found, advance deposits were made, plane tickets were bought, and seven families committed to two separate reunions. The stage was set for the heart.

A Resurgence Story

After having read all the reports of the massive flooding which had happened in August, I had expected Kochi city and her surroundings to show signs of damage everywhere. I was to learn from the local cab drivers that the shiny, gleaming airport terminal we had arrived in had been three feet underwater, and had to be shut down for four weeks. Everywhere we went, whether by auto-rickshaw, car or boat – not a single person complained about what had befallen them. You could see and feel that they were happy that we were visiting and investing in their recovery.

As we took multiple boat trips through the backwaters and on the massive lake, more stories of overcoming and resurgence filtered through. I asked questions of everyone on the lake house that we were staying in – the cleaning lady Asha, the cooking lady Jinu, the manager Aarokya, the boat guides. I asked questions of a mix of Hindus, Muslims and Christians, for Kerala is a state where they all blend together.

All of them would speak of their beautiful families, how much they were grateful for what (little) they had, and of how the floods – and their subsequent recovery from them – had brought them closer as communities.

Family Foundation – Revival Begins

As the long languid days of sitting by the pool unfolded, entranced by the lake as boats of all shapes and sizes slowly slid by like a knife through slightly warmed butter, I felt a warm glow beginning to heal my heart’s hole. The heart started to feel a revival, an increase in functional and emotional capacity. The first reunion, with my brother and sister’s family, laid the foundation for the revival. The feelings of disconnection that had grown with time and distance after my Mother’s passing, were rearranged and reframed like the floating hyacinths that constantly reconfigure themselves on the lake surface.

The heart felt closure, it felt rooted and anchored again. It was a bit like the houseboats that anchor themselves overnight on the lake, and whose solitary lights could be seen like a string of pearls in the distance every night – an entourage of twinkling stars brought down from the heavens onto the waters.

Reunion with Friends – Heart Revival

And as if the revival with the family reunion wasn’t enough, what followed during the reunion with four friends from undergraduate engineering school (and their families) was an even greater closure of the heart’s hole. The five of us have a friendship, a kinship that goes back over thirty years. It has sustained the test of time and space, grown through our weddings, our children’s births, our travels across the world with our businesses and careers.

When you gather the energy of five families, in a five-bedroom lake house, where there is not much else to do but to sit around and swim in the energy of each other, a healing synergy surges through every heart. The five of us are like the five elements, and every time they come together, the limits to our creativity seem to be transcended.

For those of you who have read this far, I am grateful to you for coming along on this journey with me. I share with you with the intent that somewhere in this retelling of my personal revival, you find inspiration to be led to a heart’s revival of your own. I also hope, that when your heart’s hole does close, that you will share a bit of your revival journey with us.

For we shall all be grateful to draw inspiration from the resurgence of your submerged heart, your resilience, your heart’s revival.

Namaste,

Kumud @AjmaniK

P.S. Join us for our weekly twitter conversation with the #spiritchat community on twitter – Sunday, January 13th at 9amET / 730pm India. I will step up to host, and I look forward to hearing stories about your heart’s revival. I will bring the tea and the questions… your presence is much looked forward to 🙂 – Kumud

Houseboat in Kerala

Friends with families

Permalink: https://spiritchat140.wordpress.com/2019/01/12/the-hearts-revival/

The Spirit of Curiosity

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The Spirit of Curiosityby Christy Johnson

Recently I had yet another conversation about how radical it was for me to quit engineering to start an energy healing practice, which made me curious about the differences and similarities between my two professions. After all, if my soul embraced both for me as part of who I was and who I was becoming, are they that incompatible?

Science and Spirituality

My musings led me to realize that spirituality and the forefront of science both spring from unconventional thought and result in new awareness. We may perceive science and engineering as solid, knowledge-based, and quantifiable. Yet while science pertains to what is already known it also explores what is unknown and uncharted, inviting us to be curious about possibilities and to let go of old certainties and beliefs. Both science and spirituality help us expandour understanding via curiosity.

Curiosity and Serendipity

I realized they also both have an element of serendipity.  An extraordinary shift happens when we surrender to divine timing and divine intelligence, curious to see what might occur beyond our own limited imagination. The discovery of penicillin is a prime example of this considering what revealed itself was not part of the original experimental design. Surrendering with curiosity leads us to truth.

 

Children arrive on the planet naturally curious. They come from a place of awe and wonder which happens also to be where spirituality arises. When we tap into curiosity, we can connect more deeply with nature, our selves, and others because we’ve released judgment and have embraced being present.

Engaging Curiosity

Returning to my own life, asking what, why, and how questions in the Akashic Records soul database or seeking a supportive Jin Shin Jyutsu flow for clients leverages my curiosity just as it did when I used to use transmission electron microscopes to investigate why computer chips failed. Why do I see this and not that? What does this finding mean? How do we explain and resolve our thorniest problems?

 

Now my curious mind is engaged and more questions arise. What happens when we approach spirituality, and even life, with curiosity? What happens when we move beyond expectations and beliefs? What happens when we start asking questions instead of making statements? What’s the connection between curiosity and creativity? What relationship does curiosity have to healthy relationships, intelligence, and even longevity? How do we restore our curiosity? What hampers it? What is possible?

 

Please join us this Sunday, January 6th, 2019 at 9 A.M. EDT/7:30 P.M. India in #SpiritChat on Twitter, as we explore The Spirit of Curiosity. Please come to connect, learn, and share how you welcome curiosity into your outlook and your life. What magic might happen when spend an hour being curious together?

– Christy Johnson (@IntuitiveHeal on Twitter)

Host Bio: Dr. Christy Johnson quit her decades-long engineering career in 2010 to open her own integrative energy healing practice. She helps clients create love and compassion inthe relationships with themselves and others via soul level information, energy healing, and empowering self-help tools. You can connect with her via her website www.intuitiveheal.com , on Twitter @IntuitiveHeal and on her new YouTube channel.

Holistic Awareness by Janet Nestor

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Holistic Awareness is a choice and a way of life. It is present moment living that allows connection and awareness of our body, mind, emotions, our energy field and flow, our spirit, and our environment. Holistic Awareness is a way to feel vital and alive – to feel free and limitless – to find contentment.

Holistic awareness is not a mental activity, yet we have a better perception. There is a greater awareness and ability to use the information provided through our sense of touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste. Holistic awareness allows us to “talk” with our body and sense into our environment. It enriches our self-knowledge, self-understanding and allows interaction with our inner nature and the nature of creation.

Awareness and Childhood

As children, most of us need not be taught how to stay in touch with our own inner nature.
We are born connected to ourselves and the divine. We have present moment holistic awareness and instinctively know when we are hungry, sleepy, when our diaper needs changing, and when we are uncomfortable in our environment. We sense who loves us and we develop a connection with them that includes trust. But our culture expects us to learn certain things and most of them lead us away from our most precious gifts.

As we grow older, we are urged to wait a minute or deny our needs. We are asked to repress our hunger until a certain time, to sit still when we need to move, or eat when we are not hungry or sleep when we are not tired. Some of us have been urged to accept someone (caregiver or family member) who frightens us. Because our instincts are not honored on a regular basis, we learn not to trust them. Gradually we learn to live in our heads and from our thoughts.

Our Return to Awareness

A growing holistic awareness is essential to our well-being, and it is the key to our personal growth and our physical and emotional healing. It is how we learn to connect to our own divinity and the universal wisdom that makes everything possible. As adults, we have to overcome our lifelong conditioning and learn to trust the messages that constantly come from our body and environment. We even have to learn to trust our own divine nature.

The moment our holistic journey begins, we change the way we perceive ourselves and the way we perceive life and the world. As our awareness blossoms we slowly (or suddenly in an ah-ha moment) notice the hidden parts of our inner being and the realities of mother nature and our communities. The journey provides opportunities for us to know and understand our beliefs, our emotions, our memories (good and bad), and ask the most fundamental question: Why am I here now, with this family, with this job, with these life issues, with this body I’m not totally satisfied with, and with the health issues that plague my life or the life of someone I love.

Practical Ways of Choosing Awareness

Many of us choose holistic awareness and want to begin a spiritual journey, but we don’t know how. But we can seek answers and join groups like #SpiritChat. Here are four suggestions that might enrich your journey.

  1. Become aware that you are becoming aware; learn to be a witness of your own actions and thoughts. Self evaluate without judgment or criticism. Allow your perception to expand.
  2. Accept your life as it is now. Acceptance is the beginning of all change.
  3. Realize that you are limitless and free and that you have choices and the ability to positively change your life.
  4. Allow your mind to become peaceful, quiet, still, and unencumbered through meditation, spending time in nature, or sitting in silent contemplation. The result will be a reality-based communication and an increased sense of being part of the world around you.

-Janet

Author’s Note: This post is adapted from Revolutionize Your Health, a new book I co-authored with Cornelia Merk. The book is a seven-year collaboration that is filled with lots of researched information, deep soul searching, and personal stories from ourselves and others. It is interesting to know that Connie and I have never met in person. Social Media and fate brought us together in 2012. On that first phone call we were so synergistic that we agreed to merge our previous writing into what we thought would be an eBook. That eBook turned into chapters, we hired an editor, and a new book was born. Our book launches on January 22, 2019.

Editor’s Note: Please join me as I host our long-time friend, supporter, participant and advisor to the #SpiritChat community, Janet Nestor (@JanetNestor). We will gather on Sunday, December 16 at 9amET / 730pm India on twitter. Thank you – Kumud @AjmaniK

Janet Nestor

Janet Nestor of Revolutionize Your Health

The Freedom of Forgiveness

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The Freedom of Forgiveness

– by Sharon Kathryn D’Agostino

I believe in the healing power of love, in the transformation created in our lives when we allow ourselves to give and receive love with our hearts wide, wide open.

Life events this year have led me to examine more closely the various aspects of love, and to feel love even more intensely. In the process, I have been exploring forgiveness, an aspect of unconditional love that is sometimes overlooked. We may lose sight of the fear, anger, resentment and sadness associated with our decisions not to forgive others, or ourselves, for the conscious or unconscious hurts we have experienced. Some of us carry the burden of past hurts around with us for years with little awareness of their weight in our day-to-day existence. Fleeting or persistent thoughts about hurtful things that were done or said to us, thoughts pushed aside but not truly addressed, can sap our strength and energy, and they can interfere with our ability to experience joy in our lives.

Forgiveness has the potential to free us from these burdens, though the act of forgiving may be more difficult than we think. For the most hurtful experiences in our lives, the advice to “forgive and forget” misses an essential step even when our intention to forgive is genuine. Once we decide to forgive someone, we must take steps to heal the hurt, to truly let it go, before we can move to the step of forgetting it. We need to release the pain, the anger, the resentment that resulted from the actions or words that injured us. This release may come through meditation, through prayer, in conversations with a friend, in therapy, or by any of the ways we move through our important life lessons. Releasing the hurt must be intentional, as it is highly unlikely that the pain will magically disappear simply because we made the choice to forgive.

In our personal exploration of forgiveness, we can also benefit greatly from understanding the things for which we blame ourselves. That list may be short or long… the experience of not meeting the expectations of ourselves or others… the feeling of letting others down… the could haves, should haves… all of the hurtful words or actions for which we hold ourselves responsible. Self-directed blame, disappointment, and anger can be the most significant burdens in our lives and often we carry them without asking ourselves why we have not chosen to let them go.

Our choice to forgive frees us. Our requests to be forgiven free us further. Forgiveness gives us the space to love others and ourselves more fully. In every moment, we can choose the freedom of forgiveness and thereby open our hearts completely to the healing power of love.

Sharon

Sharon Kathryn D’Agostino believes that love and compassion can and will save the world. She is the founder of SayItForward.org, a web platform where women and girls are invited to share their stories of empowerment. Sharon can be found on Twitter at @SharonDAgostino, @SayItForwardNow and @AwakeningTrue

Editor’s Note: Please join Sharon as she steps up to host our weekly twitter chat on Sunday, Dec 9th at 9amET. Sharon is a long-time regular in our Sunday morning gatherings, a great proponent for women and for choosing love, and a wonderful friend of the community. Thank you. – Kumud @AjmaniK

Making light - bees at play

A miracle, a death, and the holidays

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Lucille Rusconi Fisher for Spiritchat

Thirty-seven years ago, on December 2, 1981; I watched my father, Frank Rusconi, take his final breath. He had fought a rare intestinal cancer for two and a half years. He amazed his doctors who didn’t think he would survive the initial crisis. It was after my sister’s birthday celebration in June that he woke up with severe pain in his abdomen and went to the hospital. We were initially told by his longtime doctor that he had a hernia, and he was scheduled for an operation. He was 63 years old and me and my two sisters were still living at home. I was attending college.

His doctor called to say the operation went well but neglected to tell us about the cancer. The next thing we heard was he had a heart attack. In truth, he became septic because his bowel and appendix burst. We didn’t find this out until he was transferred, near death, to a Boston hospital. The doctor at Boston University Hospital was horrified by what he saw and quickly brought him into surgery where they released some of the poison in his system and repaired the damage as best they could. We learned after, that the Boston doctor had only seen one case of this rare cancer and that person died shortly after. Thus, the doctor didn’t think my dad would survive long either but shortly after surgery he came out of his toxic delirium and said, “I have to get home to my girls.” And so, he did, three months later.

I think prayer had a big part in his recovery. We had a lot of people praying for him, He was known and respected in the community and at church as a dedicated volunteer. My aunt even called a radio prayer line and asked strangers to pray for him. My father loved his faith and he was a good, kind man. With his illness, he couldn’t get to church but we often watched the Reverend Robert Schuller every Sunday on TV and found comfort. One of Reverend Schuller’s standard lines was “God loves you and so do I.”

My father was dubbed a miracle man by the doctors and hospital staff. The attending doctor said “If you wanted to pray, the place to do it is under Frank’s hospital bed.” My dad continued to beat the odds for another two years, never complaining. What we came to realize and appreciate was the strong will to live this good man had. Thus, he gave us the miracle of time.

At the onset of his illness, I was 21, my sister Christine 17, and my older sister Annmarie was 26. My mom was 56. At the end of his two- and one-half year illness, he had showed us how to be strong and prepared us for life without him. Even though the doctor recommended he be put in the hospital near the end, my mother refused. “He will die at home,” she told him. My mother was amazing. Not trained as a nurse, she quickly filled the role. Irrigating the open wound in his abdomen, emptying his colostomy bag, attended to him with inspiring love. At our final thanksgiving together, he was unable to leave his hospital bed located off the kitchen (my mother’s former sewing room). We attempted to get through Thanksgiving dinner by trying to engage him in our conversation, but often we reverted to reminiscing. It was excruciating. He quickly declined thereafter, and it was clear his death was looming.

I was so frightened because I didn’t know what death looked like. However, I stayed close by. In those final days there were many moments of grace. At one point I was leaning over his bed and he reached out his hand to caress my face. Not a demonstrative man before his illness, he didn’t hesitate to express his love now. He would say to my mother, “I have had a good life. It is better me than one of the kids.” He looked at me at one point and said, “I don’t want to go.” And I replied, “You are not going anywhere daddy. You are staying home.” Thinking that he thought he was going to the hospital.

His eyebrows furrowed and later when I thought about it, I realized what he really meant. I would say to him, “God loves you daddy and so do I.” It would make him smile. The final night he got a burst of energy and asked to speak to my two older siblings who were married, so I called them to come quickly. He said he wanted scrambled eggs which we made but he didn’t eat. He asked my mother to sleep with him that night in the hospital bed which she did.

The next day, December 2nd, he fell into a coma. We did not leave his side. At the moment of his death, near 8 p.m. that night, my mother and I were the only two in the room. He took a breath and held it then let it out. Silence. His soul had left. I was stunned by the beauty and sacredness of the moment. So peaceful it was.

Christmas eve was three weeks away and my family talked about whether we should have the big Christmas Eve celebration that was our tradition. My mother told the story of when my dad’s eldest brother died near Christmas and he insisted that we get a tree and celebrate as usual. I was small at the time and he did not want any of us to be denied the joy of the holiday. So, we had our Christmas Eve celebration in 1981. We invited all his nurses and doctors as well as family and friends. It was a joyful celebration of this miracle man who left us with so many gifts of grace.

Lucille

Bio: Lucille Rusconi Fisher is the owner of Sage and Savvy Marketing. She helps business owners over fifty grow their companies through digital marketing. She has been a seeker of truth her whole life and began to study the ancient teachings in earnest and meditate regularly fifteen years ago. She took classes with Donna Mitchell Moniak, founder of Spiritfire Retreat Center in Leydan, MA and creator of the Practice of Living Awareness meditation. In 2011, she was fortunate to attend the Dalai Lama’s Kalachakra in Washington, DC with the Spiritfire sangha. Her life mantra is taken from a Dalai Lama quote, “My Religion is Kindness.”

Editor’s Note: Please join me and guest-host Lucille (@sageandsavvy) for a twitter chat on Sunday, Dec 2nd at 9amET. Lucille is a wonderful friend of the community, and a long-time regular in our Sunday gatherings. We will discuss death, miracle(s) and the holidays! Thank you. – Kumud @AjmaniK

Lucille (on right) with her Father…