Last week, Kristen, Kasci, and I piled into Kristen's mom van and took a road trip to Northern California. Our ultimate destination was the haunted Preston Castle in Ione, but somewhere along the way we decided on a side day trip to see the Winchester Mystery House (also haunted) in San Jose.
In Nia we have a concept called "beginner's mind." Essentially, it means approaching something you already know as if you know nothing, and it's a way to enhance your practice, your experience, and your learning.
Beginner's mind isn't a new concept. In fact, it's an archetypal energy represented across cultures and systems of symbolism: In the tarot it's represented with the 0 major arcana card, The Fool; in Jungian archetypes, it's The Innocent; and in I Ching, it's represented by the #4 hexagram Meng, which may be translated as Youthful Folly or Inexperience.
This archetype is highly represented in symbolic philosophical systems for a reason: It offers a way to view the world with new, fresh eyes, and it suggests an opening of the mind so new, creative thinking can find its way in. In all symbolic systems, this archetype represents the unlimited potential that lies before us when we enter beginner's mind.
It's easy to get stuck in fixed patterns of thoughts and beliefs about the world around us. We are so accustomed to seeing the world one way that our mind closes off to the possibility there is another. In fact, scientific studies have shown that when we are focused on one thing and a change is made right in front of us, about 50 percent of the people studied actually fail to notice the change. When referring to visual phenomena, this is known as "change blindness," but it can happen not only visually, but when we are focused on fixed perceptions and beliefs, as well. Other studies show that people with deeply held beliefs (such as political, philosophical, or spiritual beliefs) will actually dig more deeply into their stance when presented with evidence the opposite is actually true. It's how we deal with cognitive dissonance - by rooting more firmly into what we think we know, regardless of how much evidence we are presented to the opposite. There's a great book about this topic called Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) that really delves into this phenomena; I highly recommend it.
The tendency of the human mind to get stuck into one pattern of thought and perception keeps us from truly exploring the world in which we live. Our beliefs and perceptions are so powerful and strong they create our reality. For example, if someone believes they are sick and focuses on that thought long enough and hard enough, eventually their body follows suit because the power of the belief in illness brings about the physical state that matches self-perception. This is the partial basis behind the Law of Attraction; what we believe and what we focus our attention on becomes our reality.
That's why it's so important to tap into the archetypal energy of The Innocent, The Fool, Beginner's Mind. When we see things with fresh and innocent eyes, we drop our preconceived notions, and the world around us just may surprise us. Being in beginner's mind enhances our experience. It allows us to fully experience the beauty around us and opens us to new possibilities. Someone we thought was a jerk may, in fact, be lovely. Something we thought was boring may be fascinating. Something we thought we didn't like might turn out to be wonderful. We might learn something new about a subject we thought we already knew. And, we can open up to new ideas that can change our lives and possibly change the world.
One of the best ways to step into beginner's mind is to be in the moment and allow. Look at the world around you, even if it's something familiar you've seen thousands of times, and try and spot something new about it. Hear with your heart when you engage with others. Reach out with your soul as you journey through life. Allow for the possibility of fresh, new ideas, feelings, relationships, and thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking the same old thing, stop and ask yourself, "Is that true? How can I possibly know it's true? Could something else be truer?"
I encourage you to engage with the world as The Innocent. See it with fresh new eyes in every moment, and your life will instantly change.
Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay
Yesterday I found myself thinking, I wish people would be kinder to one another. Then it struck me. I can't control how kind anyone is to anyone else. All I can do is be kinder in the way I approach others and in how I choose to live my life. If I see the world as lacking kindness, then it's up to me to be as kind as I can in order to bring about the vibration of kindness. I can also choose to see kindness in others and focus on that instead of negativity, which will change my experience.
In her process called The Work, Byron Katie points out that whenever we judge traits in another and find them somehow lacking, we only set ourselves up for unhappiness. Therefore, she suggests doing The Work, which is a process of inquiry about our judgments.
Katie recommends four questions and a turn around about our judgment, so in this case, my judgment is, "People should be kinder."
Question 1: Is that true?
Objectively, yes. I do wish people were kinder.
Question 2: Can you absolutely know it's true?
No. I don't know 100 percent that people should be kinder.
Question 3: How do you react when you believe that thought?
I react by feeling sad people aren't as kind as I want them to be. It makes me unhappy. Occasionally, I may use that thought to be less kind myself.
Question 4: Who would you be without that thought?
I'd be kinder, and I'd be happier because I wouldn't wander around feeling upset when people weren't kind enough. I'd choose kindness myself because being kind is who I want to be, and that would be independent of how kind other people were.
Turn it around: (In other words, turn around the statement in ways that are equally true).
Turn around 1: People shouldn't be kinder. Why not? Because if they should be, they would be.
Turn around 2: I should be kinder. Absolutely true. Kindness is my value, and if I want to experience kindness in the world, I need to be kind in spite of how others behave.
This simple process is a valuable way to look at your own judgments and find ways to be more authentically you in the world without projecting onto others how they should behave or think. It also served as a good reminder for me this week about kindness;it is a quality I can choose to cultivate and it isn't up to me what others choose, no matter how much I wish I could make people play nice.
So, I'm choosing kindness because it serves me, and it makes me happy. What others do is entirely up to them.
Image by truthseeker08 from Pixabay
Eight years ago today, my first book was released. When I wrote it, I was riddled with insecurity about putting my work out there. It felt deeply personal. It felt like being naked in front of a crowd. It was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying, yet I put it out there as a suggestion to the universe that this is what I wanted my path to be. I was compelled to write it by forces that felt bigger than me. It was like the universe was directing me, setting me on an inevitable path I'd been meant to walk since the day I was born.
The book, Avalanche of Spirits, enjoyed modest success. With many more books under my belt since then (13 cookbooks where I am the named author plus many more that I've ghost written and 10 paranormal/metaphysical/energy healing titles with two more currently in the works with different publishers), I remain grateful this place I wrote so passionately about in Avalanche of Spirits (Wellington, WA) showed me I could do something that, up until that book released, I didn't realize I had the courage to do.
As I wrote about in Avalanche, the book came about originally after the heartbreaking crash of a documentary. At the time I was angry, hurt, and sorrowful. I'd felt like someone had taken my creation and stomped all over it. But from the ashes of that event, my lost documentary I spent so much time and care making, arose the book. And that book changed my life.
I didn't release my second book, Dancing with the Afterlife, until 2013, nearly three years after writing my first. It was the follow up to Avalanche of Spirits, another book about Wellington, and I started to worry I was a one-trick pony who could only write full length books about this one place that so captured my imagination. However, a little over a year later, another book arrived, and I was off to the races.
Since then, I have been passionately writing books about topics I love. It is my life, my passion, and the way I make my living, and I couldn't be happier that it is. It is my escape, and it is my obsession. I've experienced much joy as an author and a few heartbreaking disappointments, as well. But as I did when the loss of my documentary served as the impetus for launching my career as an author, I've gone on to bigger and better things as a result of the disappointments. The heartbreak led me away from projects I cared about to others that were far more meaningful.
Writing is my purpose and as my life focus has shifted, so has the focus of my books. Now, I write primarily about metaphysical and energy healing topics, and I teach classes in these subjects, as well. I believe this is what I am meant to do; I believe my life's work is to empower others to find their own highest vibration that serves their greatest and highest good.
I am grateful. I've said it before and I'll continue to say it. Being able to make a living writing is a great blessing, and I'm thankful for my publishers, my editors, my project managers, my family, my friends, my dogs who do everything they can to take me out of my writing process, and most of all you, my readers and people who take my classes. Because you read my books and take my classes, you are allowing me to spread joy, love, and tools for creating positive energy in the world. I feel that together we are all part of a movement to take this planet to a higher vibration and make it a kinder, more compassionate place to live.
Here's to 8 years of writing books. Eight years and one day ago, I had no idea this would be my life, but I hoped somewhere deep in my heart it would. Now it is, and I am humbled for the opportunity.
I have had many roles in my life: mother, wife, sister, friend, writer, teacher, musician, but my role as John Riseland's daughter has always been one of my favorites.
Yesterday I gathered with people who I have known all my life, and we said good-bye to my dad. His service was packed - standing room only - a fitting and appropriate send-off for a humble and kind man who touched more lives than he ever would have known.
My dad was a giant of a man; he was 6'4" and over 200 pounds with size 14 feet. People with that stature can be scary to some, but I don't think my dad ever was. Sure when he coached high school basketball he could bark at a ref, or if someone threatened his family in any way or questioned his integrity, he got mad like anyone else. But in his day to day life, in his general demeanor, he was a gentle and kind soul. He always had a smile and a laugh. He loved telling jokes, and he never met bad dad pun he didn't love.
Here's an example of his bad dad jokes: when we were kids, every time we ate Chinese food and it came time for fortune cookies, he would open his, adopt a shocked look, and pretend to read from the fortune in a panicked sounding voice, "Help! I'm being held prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory." After the first dozen or so times, we groaned when he said it, but he never stopped believing it was the height of hilarity.
My dad was always uniquely himself. I never saw him be anything but exactly who he was. He was a man without pretension, and if he thought it, he probably said it. He loved to tease and joke. He thought deeply about everything in life, and he loved to engage in thoughtful, philosophical discussions.
In many ways, he was a paradox. He was a deeply spiritual man with a vastly open mind. He was a talented athlete who could also be clumsy and accident prone. This is a man who played college basketball with grace and yet still somehow managed to run over his foot with a lawn mower or drop a fully cooked Thanksgiving turkey in the garage behind the car. Because of these things, we affectionately call him Clark Griswold and joked that his klutz DNA runs generations deep. We're not wrong.
My mom and dad raised three very different daughters - all independent women with vastly different careers and belief systems, and he's always respected each of us and our right to believe what we do and find our own understandings for the way the universe works. He was a good parent - probably even an excellent one. In fact, he and my mom used to teach parenting classes in their church to young couples. Yet with all his knowledge of parenthood, he seldom tried to tell my sisters and me how to raise our kids and if he did, he realized afterward that was what he was doing and apologized. For instance, one night in a casual dining restaurant when my son was about six, Tanner was playing with his glass of water by trying to spoon the ice out of the glass.
"I wouldn't let you girls do that," my dad said, to which I responded, "Dad, sometimes you just have to pick your battles."
I promptly forgot our conversation, but dad must've been thinking about it throughout dinner and on the way home. When we got home, he said, "You know Kar - you're right, and I'm sorry. Sometimes I forget what a challenge it can be to raise young kids. You do have to pick your battles."
That was what he did. If he felt he overstepped, if he felt he stepped outside of his integrity, he apologized. And he probably apologized a lot. My dad was, after all, human.
There were things that stood out about my dad to virtually everyone: his humor, his intelligence, his integrity, his big heart, his kindness, compassion, and dedication to community service, and his devotion to his family. He set a tremendous example for his children and grandchildren. He did what he thought was right, he told the truth (except when he was teasing the kids - then he virtually never told the truth), and he cared deeply for others. He was a friendly guy who always greeted people warmly and made them feel welcome. In his career, he was a high school guidance counselor and in his private time, he spent countless hours in community service, feeding the homeless and working with the underserved and disenfranchised. He and my mom served sandwiches to the homeless in downtown Bellingham, created and served a community meal for people who just needed some hot food, and engaged in a number of similar activities.
Dad treated everyone with dignity and respect. I remember a walk through Bellingham with my parents and son one afternoon, and we came across a man who appeared to be homeless carving a piece of wood on the steps of an old building. As we stopped to look at the building, my parents engaged him in conversation, asking what he was carving, what it meant, and how he'd learned to carve. They asked what he did with his carvings. They treated him like they would anyone else they encountered; there wasn't a hint of condescension or judgment from either of them. They didn't ignore him or walk away. They engaged him. Because he was a human, and they knew and recognized that.
My mom and dad were married for 55 years, and they were devoted to each other. Although we moved away from our hometown, my sisters and I seldom worried about them because they had each other. The shared faith, intellectual and spiritual curiosity, the love of laughter, a love of sports, a dedication to community service, and a deep and abiding love for one another. My dad loved and cared for my mom in small and big ways that were beautiful to witness. I can't imagine her without him, and I couldn't imagine him without her.
There is so much more I could say about my dad because he had a life well-lived. He crafted a full life in which he engaged in all of the things that were important to him. He never let grass grow under his feet; he was a man always on the go overflowing with good will and laughter.
Last night as we were driving home from the memorial, Jim said, "The world is a crappier place without him," but I disagree. The world is a better place for his having been in it, and his legacy will live on in all of the lives he touched. He was a man who did what he believed was right, and he taught his children and grandchildren to do the same. And through that, who he was is not lost to the world; it is multiplied. His legacy of love and giving lives on in all of the lives he touched, and the world is an infinitely better place for his having been here.
Does your mind wander from place to place and worry to worry? Try this strategy: When you notice yourself caught up in worries about things like money, health, work, or anything else, bring your focus to your breathing and say, "I am here now." Then focus on right now. How are you? Are you safe? Are you warm? Is there anything right in this moment you need that you don't have? Focus on all of the things that are good about this moment. Be present.
Here's an example. The other night, I woke in the middle of the night and caught myself worrying about an upcoming bill. I knew if I allowed myself to go into the worry, my night of sleep was over, and the worry was not only not productive, but it could also through the law of attraction bring about the actual circumstances I was worrying about (not having enough money to pay for the bill) by giving attention and energy to that exact circumstance.
So I focused in on my breathing and asked myself, "How am I right now?" Then, I focused on everything I was in that moment.
In that very moment, I had enough money to do what I was doing (lying in bed). I was warm, safe, and sheltered. So were my loved ones. I felt well. I was physically comfortable. I was peaceful. In that moment, when I moved my mind away from the future, I had everything I wanted and needed.
This week, pay attention to your thoughts. Notice and catch yourself worrying about something that isn't an immediate (in the moment) concern. When you do (and every time you do) check in quickly. Ask yourself, "How am I right now in this very moment?" And then list all of the positive things you are. If a worry about the future sneaks in, remind yourself, "I am here, now." Then, go back to a quick check in. Chances are in this very moment, you'll find this future thing you are worrying about isn't an issue at this moment. Focus only on this moment and notice what is good. This is how you begin shifting situations; by focusing on what is right and what you choose to attract instead of worrying about what you don't wish to attract.
Right now, all is well. By the way - I had plenty of money to pay the bill.
Image by Tuan Hoang from Pixabay
Starting today with the new book. I've got citrine by my side to facilitate creative expression and success. I love the process of starting something new.
I was raised in the church and while I struggled with many of the beliefs taught, I was a whiz at memorizing scripture which is of course, something kids in Sunday school do a lot. However, even as a child, I never believed scripture was literal. I've always looked at the Bible as an allegory for an embodied life as opposed to actual, literal instructions for how to live.
Still, every once in a while some piece of scripture I memorized back in the day pops up, and I suddenly have a new understanding of what it is telling me. That happened this morning during my meditation.
I've been working on cleansing and clearing these past few weeks; I'm ridding myself of things that no longer serve me so I can make space for new energy to enter my life. I've done this not only with physical stuff (I've removed piles of garbage and things to donate from my drawers and closets over the past few weeks), but also mentally and emotionally. I've felt a driving need to create spaciousness in every aspect of my life; to make room for new energy to arrive by clearing out old energy that's cluttering up the joint.
I've always viewed my closets and drawers as an allegory for my life. On the surface, my house is clean and tidy. Sure, there's a little clutter from time to time, but if you were to come to my house, it would look fairly neat and clean. Just don't open a closet or a drawer, because under the surface of clean, oy. Chaos. And that physical condition has frequently mirrored my internal or emotional life, as well. On the surface, I appear as if I've got my crap together. But if you open a drawer or a closet - in other words, if you dig more deeply under my surface - chaos. And that chaos has traditionally occupied a whole lot of my mind and emotional space.
And so, as I've cleared away physical clutter in pursuit of physical spaciousness, I've also been working to clear away mental and emotional clutter into pursuit of emotional and mental spaciousness. I wish to create those mental and emotional spaces so I can allow for new energy that better serves me to enter my life.
Which brings me back to scripture. In my meditations, I've been using a technique my friend psychic AurorA teaches called heart space. Essentially, heart space is entering a place of pure love and acting from that practice. In my meditations, I've been focused a lot on bringing others into my heart space - especially people with whom I have relationships that need healing (part of my cleansing and clearing has been focused a lot on forgiveness). And as I did this today, a piece of scripture I memorized as a kid popped into my head.
Matthew 7:5: You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
I always saw this as an admonishment about judging others - don't judge lest ye be judged, that type of thing. But from heart space, I discovered for me it is something else altogether. It isn't about judging. It is about loving. What it meant to me this morning in my meditation was this...the plank in my eye is my inability to fully view myself with love. How can I view others with deep love love if I can't provide that for myself? With that acknowledgment, that recognition of what is, the plank starts to dissolve, and I can see more clearly than I have before. One more very important piece of clutter is disappearing right before my eyes.
What is the plank in your eye? What is it you have that you can't see around? What's cluttering up the joint and preventing new energy from entering your life? As we move through the holidays and into the new year, I encourage you to allow time and space to discover your planks, to clear your clutter, and to move forward with joy into the truly empowered life you can lead if you allow yourself to do so.
Image by klimkin from Pixabay
Our experience of life comes from the stories we tell. In the moment, there is only what is happening right now, but then our egos step in to shape and mold the events of now into a narrative we believe. The second we start telling these stories, we disconnect from the truth of what is. In any moment, we are without limits. We have the potential to draw any experience we wish depending on where we place our focus and intent. But the second our egos start to tell the story about the moment, the vast and unlimited beings we truly are become small. Our Divine beings are infinite, but our egos convince us we are tiny.
Any event or any moment just is. There is no judgment about that moment, only pure experience of whatever we are doing, being, feeling, and noticing. However, in the hands of the ego looking back, that moment of pure experience becomes something else altogether. It becomes a story we tell ourselves or others through our thoughts and words. That moment, which was pure, is filtered through all of the lenses through which we see the world. It goes from pure experience to pure narrative as we tell and retell the story of that moment. In the retelling, the story is disconnected from the truth because the truth is that in that moment, it was pure experience, and now we've added context and subtext. We've assigned motivation and meaning that have everything to do with how we see the world and nothing to do with the pure, simple truth of a moment in time.
The ego looking forward also tells stories. None of us knows what the future will bring, but it doesn't stop us from projecting. We worry and fret. We create scenarios. We tell a whole story around something that hasn't even happened yet and in doing so, we create the filters through which we will very likely experience that moment when it arrives because we have generated expectation, which acts as a magnet that draws that very experience to us at lightning speed.
We all have stories, and those stories become our experience because thoughts--whether negative or positive--attract energy of a similar vibration. So here's my suggestion for a happier life. Try to stay in the moment and in the experience. Notice when ego starts to tell stories. Do those stories make you feel good, or do they make you feel bad? Are the stories even true? Why do you need to perpetuate those stories after the moment has passed or before the moment has arrived? Do the stories somehow enhance your experience? Notice your stories as they arise, but don't own them. While you may believe they are yours, they aren't. The are merely your ego sharing its agenda. Notice them and let them drift away. Then, decide the experience you chose to have and focus on that, instead. You alone determine your experience of every moment as it comes. You alone decide which stories you attach to it, and in doing so, you alone determine your experience.
Image by Bessi from Pixabay