Archive for April 3, 2017


“In the absence of the sacred, nothing is sacred. Everything is for sale.” ~ Oren R. Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle clan

When writing my latest book, I was surprised how difficult I found it to write a ‘short chapter about nature and sacredness’ for a readership that would be mainly urban. Now that the indigenous movement against the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline brought the issue to the fore, I was reminded how urgently we need to re-connect with the sacred aspect of nature, not only because we face an ecological crisis and need to stand up in vast numbers to the ever increasing destruction of natural habitat and resources driven, but also because the separation from the nature aspect of ourselves, from our earth roots and souls, is contributing extensively to the dis-connection from our own wild nature and to our mental, emotional and physical suffering and dis-enchantment.

Indigenous views on the sacred in nature

One of the most important teachings, which we have been blessed with, is that people all over the world who are still rooted in Earth-based traditions have always maintained that being embedded in nature means being close to creation, the creator and the divine – that the sacred is directly experienced through creation and can be understood through observation and communication with the spirit(s) of nature.

Whilst we, in our so-called modern world have been for millennia led to believe that the divine is somewhere ‘out there’, indigenous teachers remind us that the sacred and divine is ‘right here’. The Aboriginal teacher and artist Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann expresses this when she writes that it is easy for her to experience God when she hunts, is in the bush or is amongst trees, as her people have been so aware of nature that it is natural for her to feel close to the creator. [1] And Carlos Perez Shuma, a Peruvian shaman, echoes this from the other side of the world when he says “… because in nature there is God and God talks to us in our visions.” [2]

But not only have we been led to believe that the divine is ‘out there’, we have also been led to believe that we are separate from nature and, most importantly, that we are a superior species. Societies’ current spiritual beliefs, based on our religions, affirm human superiority instead of equality and the sacredness of all living beings. In Genesis God says “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” [3]

In contrast, from an indigenous and shamanic viewpoint, everything in the web of life is not only alive and interrelated, but it is equally sacred as it derives from the same underlying (spiritual) field. The loss of this knowing has led to devastating consequences. The more we define ourselves as ‘separate’ from nature, the less we follow the intent of the spiritual dimension from which we have arisen, and the more we harm not only the manifested dimension of our Earth, which we can see in the ecological damage we have done, but also the spiritual and sacred dimension of the Earth and our own souls.

Living in the right way

Becoming aware of and letting ourselves experience the spiritual and sacred dimension, waking up to the divine in nature, leads inherently to everything being treated with respect, rather than being exploited for the gain of one species, namely our own. This doesn’t mean, however, that Earth-based cultures are sentimental about animals and plants. Animals are killed for food and plants are eaten, but understanding their inherent spirits leads to an honourable way of taking their lives.

When I was in Mongolia I was touched by how the nomadic herders, whose livelihood was rearing and slaughtering animals, honoured their spirits. You could find animal skulls everywhere being used to house the spirits of the slaughtered animals. Societies that are still Earth-based will also thank the animal spirits for giving their earthly body for human nourishment and often hold ceremonies in honour of them. When I worked with shamans in South America, no food was consumed without offerings to the spirits and all leftover food was given away rather than binned. When they cut plants for healing or collected wood for a ceremony, they always left an offering in return and thanked the trees and the plants. In most traditions, including the North American, Inuit and Siberian, all edible parts of the animal are eaten, spirit guides are asked to lead the hunters to the animal spirit to thank it, and feathers, skins and furs are worn in ceremony. The contrast to our cruel factory farming and slaughtering of about 56 billion animals per year worldwide couldn’t be stronger.

Once we reconnect to the divine in nature and begin to feel it, we will also appreciate the shamanic notion that nature teaches us right from wrong and that sustainability is directly connected to this. Eli Gatoga, a Cherokee chief, expressed this when he said, “The Indian made an effort to know of spiritual things from his own observations of nature, because all truth can be found in Nature”. [4] Slava Cheltuev, a shaman from the Dyayat Kypchak clan of Russia’s Altai mountains, says: “Our earth is sacred… living on the earth, each person must respect their place. We must respect it, protect it and it will give us life, it will give us health” [5], whilst Oren R. Lyons, university professor, author of many books and Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan, pulls it together stringently: “In the absence of the sacred, nothing is sacred. Everything is for sale.” [6]

It is the sacred in nature that we need to re-experience because the moment we understand the sacredness, we also realize that the right way to live is in balance and harmony with the natural laws that are inherent in the underlying field of the divine mother. This means respecting the preciousness of all life, giving something back whenever we take something, honouring the spirits within nature, contributing positively to the underlying energetic spiritual field and striving to live in a way that sustains all creation and helps it to thrive.

Our earth souls are starving

But it is not only the earth and the many life forms we harm with our ‘forgetting about the sacredness’ of all life. Within this cosmology of the sacred inter-connectedness of all life, it becomes obvious that the harm we do to nature within the web we also do to ourselves, to our body/mind and to our souls.

If we look at human development, we realize that we are indeed beings of both nature and culture, and that our increasing neglect of the nature dimension of ourselves causes soul starvation and mental/emotional problems. My own observations as a psychologist, therapist and shamanic practitioner over many years have shown me how much disenchantment, emotional and mental imbalance and rootlessness modern people experience. This is supported by profound research, which also shows us the healing power of nature on the psyche. Nature symbolism is, for instance, dominant in healing experiences and people of all age-groups feel emotionally more stable, more peaceful, more alive, more compassionate and re- enchanted after spending time in nature.

Nature also shows us alternatives to our consumer-orientated and technology-poisoned way of life.

Bill Plotkin, a shamanic eco-psychologist who facilitates long, intensive wilderness camps, observes that “… healthy human development requires a constant balancing of the influences and demands of both nature and culture… By suppressing the nature dimension of human development… industrial growth society engenders an immature citizenry unable to imagine a life beyond consumerism and soul-suppressing jobs.” [7]

And George Monbiot, the Guardian columnist and author of ‘Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life’ remarks: “It is no longer rare to meet adults who have never swum except in a swimming pool, never slept except in a building, never run a mile or climbed a mountain, never been stung by a bee or a wasp… We are separated from the world by a layer of glass…. in our temperature-controlled enclosures, all can be reduced to abstractions.” [8]

Unfortunately our longing for nature is increasingly pushed into the subconscious. Only when we are encouraged to dig a bit deeper do we realize that our mind still associates being powerful and wild, being at home, feeling safe, peaceful and healthy, with being in nature. In my practice I have never experienced anybody who, when asked to find their place of power, sanctuary, peace or healing visualized a crowded city, their place of work, a shopping mall, a club or any other place in our urban world. People of all ages and social backgrounds visualize a place in nature.

The connection to nature is not only important for our mental and emotional wellbeing but also for re-experiencing the ‘sacred wild’ within ourselves. As we begin to reconnect consciously with nature, we recognize that our Earth soul is indeed wild and needs to be allowed to tune into where it lives, namely the vast and beautiful realms of nature, in order to be nourished and reflect itself back to us. Every time we connect with nature in a sacred way, we reinforce the sacred within us, nurture our soul and give ourselves a chance to experience ‘being home’.

So, why am I writing about this? Well, mainly to stress that all of us, who seriously want to become whole and make a difference, need to make time to be in nature. We need to focus on learning from nature, be inspired by it, revitalize and re-energize our natural powers, quest for vision, tune into the seasons and use the many ways and means open to us, from wilderness camps to vision quests, from fire ceremonies to connecting with the underlying spirit essences of trees, plants mountains, rocks, water, star and planets. Above all we need to remember, in our urban technological world and life styles, that re-experiencing the divine in nature – and within ourselves – is necessity if we want to become whole and agents of change.

References:

Ungunmerr-Bauman, M.R. (2007) Dadiiri Inenr Deep Listening and Quiet Awareness. http://nextwave.org.au/wp-content/uploads/Dadirri-Inner-Deep-Listening-M-R-Ungunmerr-Bauman-Refl.pdf
Narby, J. (2003) The Cosmic Serpent, DNA and the Origin of Knowledge. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc. p.2
Genesis, 1, page 28
Gatoga, E. (1914-1983) http://www.freepressjournal.in/the-call-of-nature
http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/land-has-breath-respecting-nature-in-altai
Lyons, O. http://www.indigenouspeople.net/orenlyon.htm p.1
Plotkin, B. (2008) Nature and the Human Soul. Cultivating Wholeness and Community in a Fragmented World. Novato, California: New World Library p. 6
http://www.monbiot.com/2017/03/02/screened-out

Also by Christa Mackinnon:

The Return of the Feminine Principle: A Question of ‘Thriving Life’ or ‘Destructive Death’
What About the Feminine? How Patriarchal Value Systems Affect Consciousness

About the author:
Christa Mackinnon holds a Master of Science in psychology and is a family counselor, clinical hypnotherapist and shamanic teacher. She has worked as a psychologist, therapist, trainer, lecturer and trauma consultant internationally for 25 years, and is an honorary teaching fellow at the University of Exeter in the UK.

Christa sees her current work as ‘Bridging the Worlds’ between the ancient shamanic and the contemporary therapeutic. Based on her ground-breaking book on the subject matter, she facilitates Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses for professionals, speaks at conferences, and lectures widely. She also facilitates courses and retreats for women and is currently in the process of writing a new book, which will be about the feminine.

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Published on Apr 3, 2017

Nonduality Teacher Rupert Spira and Rick Archer (Buddha At The Gas Pump) are inquiring into the nature of raw or direct experience. If we refer to thought to give us a clear image about reality then we will quickly reach the limits of our understanding. Instead we should forget our identity or what thoughts suggests to us and see that the only thing we truly know is that we are aware.

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Rupert Spira is a spiritual writer and teacher in the branch of Non Duality, exploring the nature of experience in his essays and texts. He has published a book (The Transparency of Things, Non Duality Press, 2008), and a few DVDs with interviews. He holds regular meetings and retreats in the UK, Europe and the US. (Source: Wikipedia.org, https://goo.gl/1hd303)

Rupert Spira shares his views and experiences related to
Non-duality, Ceramics, Meditation, Advaita, Vedanta, Consciousness and Awareness.

‘The discovery that peace, happiness and love are ever-present within our own Being, and completely available at every moment of experience, under all conditions, is the most important discovery that anyone can make.’

‘To believe that I, Awareness, share the limits and the destiny of the mind and body is like believing that the screen shares the limits and destiny of a character in a movie.’


“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” ~Wayne Dyer

One day, I was complaining about not having enough days off to escape work and treat myself to a vacation. I was feeling stressed and tired. I can recall my stepfather looking into my eyes with a deep sense of peace and compassion.

“I hear you,” he said. “I know you work hard. Sometimes, I imagine myself jumping out of bed and going for a walk, whenever I want to.”

His words came like thunder. It was a wake-up call to remind me how blessed I was and how much I was taking it for granted, as if nothing was ever enough. And there he was, my stepfather, trapped in a wheelchair by a severe form of multiple sclerosis, dreaming of a nice walk in nature. That day, he was my teacher.

For too many years, I spent a lot of my precious time complaining. I thought I never had enough time, money, or love.

Many of us get stuck in the habit of projecting our happiness into an imaginary future instead of living in the only reality that is, the present moment. We often think thoughts like:

The day I get married, I will be happy.

The day I can afford a bigger house, I will be happy.

The day I make x amount of money, I will be happy.

Looking back on my life, I came to realize that I didn’t know how to be happy. I continuously kept myself busy, always running somewhere so I could achieve more or better. Turning my happiness into a project and waiting for “the big things” to happen so I could finally feel joyful and satisfied.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was a rat racer. Here’s what I mean by that:

In his book Happier, Tal Ben-Shahar (a Harvard professor, leading researcher, and author) defines four different happiness archetypes:

Nihilism

Nihilists have lost their joy in life, both present and future. They find no pleasure in their work or private life and expect no future benefits or rewards. They’ve given up and resigned to their fate.

Hedonism

Hedonists live for the moment and give little or no thought to future consequences and plans. Because they feel unchallenged by future goals or a purpose, they are often unfulfilled.

Rat Racing

The rat race archetype often sacrifices current pleasures and benefits in anticipation of some future rewards. This is likely the most familiar archetype to many of us (continuously setting new goals, never pleased, always busy).

It doesn’t mean that setting clear goals for the future is a bad practice. We all need a purpose and a clear vision. If we don’t even know what we want, how could we ever get that? The problem occurs when we attach our happiness to future outcomes without being able to see and appreciate what’s already good in our lives.

Rat racing is all about hunting for happiness, chasing an illusion, and never feeling content. The more we achieve, the more we want: another house, another car, another job, or more money.

Happiness

True happiness comes from keeping a healthy balance between the present and the future. It’s when we are capable of enjoying both the journey and the destination, focusing on today’s gifts, as well as our dreams, goals, and desires.

“Happiness is not about making it to the peak of the mountain nor is it about climbing aimlessly around the mountain; happiness is the experience of climbing toward the peak.” ~Tal Ben-Shahar

The day I shifted my perception from stressed to blessed, everything changed. Here’s what I have learned and what worked well for me:

1. Happiness is a verb.

Research has shown that happiness is 50 percent connected to our genes, only 10 percent attributed to life circumstances, and 40 perfect correlated with our thoughts and behaviors. That’s why happiness is not a noun; it’s a verb. For those of us who are mentally healthy, it’s an attitude, a continuous inside job.

Many people are afraid to be happy, since they could lose it one day, and they let their worries ruin their joy.

I cultivate optimism and trust the flow of life. I shift my focus from what could go wrong to what could go right. Whatever I fear, it hasn’t happened yet. I embrace my future with the genuine curiosity of a child, and I choose to believe that something wonderful is waiting around the corner—that we live in a supportive Universe where everything unfolds perfectly, and things happen for my highest good.

If I see life with negativity, fearing that bad things could happen to me, my actions will likely attract the very things I’m trying to avoid. I’ve stopped letting my mind play with me and stress me with unnecessary fears, worries, and concerns about things that haven’t happen yet.

I nourish my mind with healthy thoughts, like this one:

“Life loves me. All is well in my world, and I am safe.” ~Louise Hay

2. I sweeten my life, every day.

I have seen that many beautiful moments and small pleasures come at a low cost or even for free.

If I don’t have time for my hobbies, I make it. I read a good book or watch a fun movie that brings me the joy and laughter.

I gather with non-judgmental people who love me just the way I am. The mere act of having a good conversation over a cup of coffee charges me with a high dose of positive energy.

I go for nice walks in the park and connect with nature.

I play with my dog.

I sometimes light a candle or some nice smelling incense. (Jasmine is my favorite.) It stimulates my creativity and makes me feel good.

I’ve stopped waiting for the VIP moments of the year (like my birthday) to embellish my house with fresh flowers.

I have created the habit of drinking water from a wine glass with a slice of lemon in it.

I enjoy my morning coffee from a beautiful cup with a red heart on it, to remind myself that love is all around.

I use the beautiful bed sheets and the nice towels instead of saving them for the guests, just because I’m worth it.

“Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift; that’s why we call it present.” ~Unknown

3. I grow dreams, not regrets.

The need for stability and security (including on a financial level) is a basic human need. No wonder we start rat racing if we don’t have enough money! But what is “enough”? Isn’t that a subjective qualifier, based on our individual needs and expectations?

I have met many wealthy people who were unhappy because their ego always wanted to get more or better. It’s like when we think, “Okay, I’ve got this house now, but when I can move my family into a bigger one, I will finally be happy.”

Another reason we project happiness into the future pertains to limiting (often culturally inherited) beliefs around money that keep us stuck in a survival mode.

Take my example: Years ago, I used to work in China. I lived in a beautiful compound in downtown Shanghai, all paid for by my company, and I was single, with no loans, debt, or financial commitments. It all looked wonderful, but deep inside, I was so unhappy!

I knew I always wanted to travel the world and meet people from different cultures. I had enough money to afford that, and still, I was so afraid of spending! Even today I am thankful to the good friend who insisted on me following her on a trip, because that’s how I finally managed to break that wall.

You see, I was raised in an Eastern-European middle-class family. As a child, I often saw my parents saving money for the “black days” of their pension years (the time when one would not earn a salary and could potentially “start starving.”) As a result, I followed the same behavior once I started to make my own money.

So here’s what I’ve learned: I won’t spend my precious younger years saving everything for my retirement. Saving money is a form of self-care, and something I currently do. However, I know I won’t die with my savings account, and I won’t look back on my life with regrets once I’m older. I invest in myself and in my learning, and I spend part of my money on experiences, making sure I gather more precious memories than material things.

“You will never regret what you do in life. You will only regret what you don’t do.” ~Wayne Dyer

4. I do what I love and love what I do.

We spend the majority of our lives at work. So if we’re not happy with our jobs, we’re not happy with most of life—another reason some of us start rat racing and hoping for something different.

Too many people live their precious lives in survival mode, like robots. Frustrated or drained on Monday mornings and looking forward to the weekends so that they can feel alive. When we’re happy with our work, there’s nothing wrong with Monday mornings.

If you find yourself stuck in a job you don’t like, know that you always have a choice to step outside your comfort zone and work toward something new. It may not be easy to change careers, especially if you have limited education and people depending on you. But it’s possible to do something you believe in, something that brings you genuine joy and fulfillment.

The key is to work toward that something new while also cultivating joy in your daily life so you don’t fall into the trap of waiting for the future to be happy; and also, to remind yourself that no matter what happens, even if your circumstances are never ideal, you can still be happy.

“The most important two days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” ~Mark Twain

5. I stay away from perfection.

To me, being a rat racer felt exhausting. I didn’t know how to have fun and relax. I was too busy trying to be perfect and do everything perfectly. It was tiring, and it made me feel like I was never good enough or worthy of the best things life had to offer.

Even when I transitioned into the job of my dreams, I was still unhappy. I kept thinking:

“The day I get to make that much money a month, I will be happy.”

“The day I know everything about this job, I will be happy.”

You see, even people who love what they do can be rat racers, if they are struggling with the need for perfection.

Today, I aim for progress instead of perfection, and I enjoy each step of my professional journey, celebrating every new lesson and every kind of achievement, no matter how big or small.

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never feel content.” ~Lev Tolstoi

6. I mind my own journey.

Another thing that keeps us trapped in rat racing is the behavior of comparing ourselves to others—the money we’re making, the status at work, the house we live in, and so on.

I now know everyone is on their own journey, and each time I dedicate moments of my life comparing, I find myself in someone else’s territory, not mine. It’s like trying to live in their story and life experience instead of my own.

I’ve come to understand that when I shift my focus and attention from other people to myself, I suddenly have more time and energy to create good things in my own life. So many people complain about not having enough time for themselves. If you want more time for yourself, mind your own business and see what happens.

“Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against your authentic self.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant

7. I am grateful.

In the past, I rarely said thank you or counted my blessings. Today, I practice gratitude as a morning ritual. I focus on what I have, rather than on what’s missing.

I make sure I start every day being thankful for my health; for having a loving family, a wonderful life partner, and a great job I love; for the creativity flow that helps me write such posts and the opportunity to share my insights and experiences with the world; and for the air I breathe and the sun that caresses my face.

“If the only prayer you ever say is Thank you, that will be enough.” ~Eckhart Tolle

I might not always get what I want, but I know I always get what I need. I see every day as a fresh start, a new opportunity for me to taste more of this juicy experience called living. Life is a precious gift and I intend to spend as much of it happy as possible.

And now, I would like to hear from you. What is your happiness archetype? What makes you truly happy?

About Sara Fabian
Sara Fabian is a women’s empowerment coach and inspirational speaker, on a mission to help professional women to discover their unique strengths, gifts and talents, boost their confidence, find their calling and live a meaningful life of purpose. For weekly inspiration, subscribe to her free newsletter at sarafabiancoaching.com or follow her on Facebook.


Published on Apr 1, 2017

http://adyashanti.org – Who do you want to blame? Who do you want to withhold love from? Who are you so resentful and bitter towards that you would never want to express your love towards them? Adyashanti opens up a doorway into self-knowing, where you can explore where you are withholding love in your life. By holding up the torch of truth to your interactions and releasing your arguments with yourself, others, the world, and God, your world is dramatically transformed — your daily activities become more inclusive, and you begin to embody your awakening more fully.

Quotes from this Video:

“Step outside of everything you think you know.”

“The entire internal world — when you’re not thinking about it — just stops.”

“Doubt is powerful. Not the kind of doubt that makes you feel small and diminished and afraid to move, but the doubt where you see, ‘My God, the whole way that I have myself, and everybody, and everything hooked up in my mind may be nothing more than a thought. A persistent thought, but maybe nothing more than that.’”

“This is the kind of doubt that not only allows us to begin to experience the dimension of being but actually releases it into experience.”

“To be really awakened is to have no more argument with yourself, no more argument with the world, no more argument with others, and no more argument with God.”

“Reality is the ultimate bait-and-switch maneuver. It costs nothing to wake up, however it costs everything to stay awake.”

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