The Open Door

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If there is a struggle of any kind at this time that overwhelms you, ask yourself two things:  what does it mean? and where is it leading me?  Our minds are inclined to believe that it’s only through light and bliss that we’ll obtain freedom.  But, by now we should know this is utter and complete bull****.  We find the invaluable in the darkness, we obtain the diamond through clawing our way out of the dung hill.  It’s the place that we often put off from approaching but it’s the only way towards realization and balance.  Living a one sided life in which the primary focus is positive thinking  is a denial and rupture of the human condition. The reality is life is brutal filled with battles for us to engage and conquer.  Every one has a battle to overcome but you cannot overcome what you don’t know what you’re fighting.  The denial of our wounds only makes them worse.  It’s necessary to stare down those dark places in our lives, take a stand, and be willing to enter through the dark corridors of our being.  This is how authentic character is built.  Deciding to put fear aside and face reality, face our wounds, is the emancipating and heroic act of escaping the prison of stagnation.  It’s marks the beginning of character.  It’s the only way we come to realize how powerful we are. 

Shaman, Shamania

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Our ancestors sought answers by journeying far and wide, seeking spiritual leaders for guidance and answers to life’s most pressing issues.  Many times, they sacrificed their lives in order to listen to the wise counsel of the healer, the devoted shaman.  The shaman was the median between the gods and the people.  He would summon spirits through deep contemplation and rituals, receiving divine life saving knowledge from beyond.  The shaman wore clothing that distinctly separated himself from the community, wore specific painting designs on his face, chanted freely towards the spirits in language unknown to the laymen, and danced in a convulsive like fashion.  Among those that sought out the shaman was a universal understanding that this process was the way of attaining help, direction, and insight into specific issues.  This understanding was ingrained in those that came before us and is a part of our present day make-up.  The chanting shaman is a representation of hope, renewal, and rebirth.  The outcome of seeking these “medicine men” was always one of healing, or at least a consolation of some kind.  

Fast forward present day, the most influential form of entertainment is heavily populated with shaman-like artist drawing in millions of young men and women, who as many of us, are seeking genuine and concise answers to life’s most essential questions.  The “medicine man” effect lures in crowds through senseless chants, tattooed faces, belligerent dances, strange smoke, lanky bare chested men receiving their share of the gold from their performance-and those eager to find answers, while entertained- come empty and leave empty.    

By far, this art form is extremely damaging to the psyche because it taps into the human drive of seeking truth and direction.  While we have moved away from the primitive days of climbing mountains for divine wisdom to climbing stages at an attempt for the same, the result of the latter creates psychological and social decay.  The messages we wholeheartedly yearn have been completely distorted into those that promote violence, hedonism, drug use, promiscuity, addiction, objectification of women, the breakdown of family and community, and the devaluation of morality.  We must all stop to ask ourselves what effect the shift from “knowledge from above” to “f*** b******, get money” has on our youth.  

There is no doubt that such senseless music and artists should be banned from our society.  More importantly though, and more effectively, it would benefit the individual and society to carefully filter content that resembles anything that promotes social garbage and deceptively disguises itself in the images of the “wise old men” of the past.  

4 Words

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Shuffling papers, meeting with clients, crisis interventions, meetings, family contacts, documentation…Getting busy, staying busy, feeling productive.  And then a shadow emerges out of a corridor, a half-broken figure, contorted, confused and healing- to thank you but you can’t remember for what… a smile and then you remember you only placed your hand on his shoulder and uttered four words.  The smile is reciprocated and you realize that this whole time you’ve been busy with nothing and the most productive thing you’ll ever do is tell someone “I’m here for you.”  

Shattered

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We talk too much, often expressing what we think we desire rather than taking time to listen to ourselves… it’s no wonder we fluctuate between anxiety and depression.  Our default focus tends to be on the anxiety producing concerns of what others are thinking or doing, on what should be or could be, and on what appears as the accepting consensus.  All the while, the depressed soul withers from its unattended cries of purpose, identity, needs, and passions.  It’s hard to explain this to the disquieted person.  It seems it has become easier to increase dosages and wait in line for a prescription than to address the pressing matter of who we really are, what living is really about, and how to live according to our individual purpose.  We live in a sedated society, medicated by detached practitioners who themselves, through ignorance, evade the    real issues and causes of anxiety, depression, addiction, and other ailments.

The Best Investment

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An essential kind of success-perhaps the most critical type-is psychological.  Unfortunately,many people attain financial wealth and yet ignore the importance of their psychological health.  We tend to frequently check our bank statements and balance our checkbooks, yet we put off reflecting on what’s happening in our minds.  With the rates of  anxiety and depression becoming more prevalent, it’s time to prioritize and take inventory on our thoughts, feelings, and actions.  We begin by reflecting on our past and current relationships (social, personal, occupational, spiritual). What seems to be the theme?  What or who is the common denominator of the problem?  What are my greatest liabilities and am I ready to discard them?  The initiation of such a process is probably the most daring and life changing endeavor a person will ever embark on.  Psychological success requires discipline, structure, and an enduring commitment to tend to one’s inner life.  A dedication to reflect, admit defects, and take on the painstaking task of breaking unhealthy patterns and cycles is by far the best form of achievement.  Psychological success is the thread that holds everything together and it’s proper management pays off the greatest dividends.  

7 Billion OD’d

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Addiction pertains to all of us.  Though the problem may not be substances or compulsions, the condition of addiction is universal and we all experience it to some degree.  Every time we turn away from what is true, what is good, what is just, what is virtuous- we take another “hit” in favor of what seems gratifying.  While it may seem harmless-to look away or evade your responsibility-it erodes the soul and gradually removes us from our nature of loving, caring, feeling, uniting, connecting, etc.  Being unable to face the reality that we are living in contrary to our nature, we continue to turn away, drifting further into pleasures and distractions until anxiety, or depression, or crisis signals us to take action.  Recovery is a return to the fundamental aspects of being a person… it is the state of answering life’s questions with action of what is good for the world and what is my responsibility in this given moment.  Recovery limits or all together turns away from distractions and pleasures that get in the way of this responsibility.  

Bottom and Birth

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I’ve come to realize that at the core of every relapse, underneath the distress and volatility of each craving, there is a sincere and desperate cry for reality… a reality tht lives out love, wisdom, and truth in its purest form.

All the rituals and practices of the major organized religions cannot parallel the moment a person hits rock bottom. There are no scripts, no pretensions, no rehearsed utterances…just a man or woman bearing their soul, pleading for healing, for answers- sending their cry into the void in hopes that Something or Someone will come.  It’s miraculous to watch.  You’ll never see someone as connected to their natural state as that.  It’s similar to watching the miracle of birth.  Being able to be a part of moments like this, I’ve discovered that there is something greater than ourselves watching over Its creation and I’m convinced loves us.

Smile Through Storms

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“Pick me up and throw me where you will.  Wherever I land I shall keep the god within me happy…” -Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

I’ve heard many stories from people in recovery dealing with obstacles, some so severe I wondered how they were managing to stay clean and sober.  Some had lost their homes to foreclosure.  Some were laid off from work.  And some had even lost children to illness.  In every account, the same statement reappeared at the end of each share, “But I didn’t drink” or “I didn’t pick up”… “no matter what.”  These people were living proof that something profound had taken place within, a spiritual awakening.  Though the external reality of their lives were constant and difficult, there was a wise and directing consciousness beneath what they presented. This consciousness was impenetrable- although their lives were shaken, they were far from broken.  

Recovery is spiritual awareness.   People become aware of the divinity within and make a decision to honor it on a daily basis.  Outside circumstances such as death, divorce, and financial problems cannot influence the spiritual life within.  Many people in AA refer to this idea as the “98 Burn”, a statement made on page 98 of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book text which states “job or no job, wife or no wife…burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone.”  While our world may be shaken or everything seems to be crumbling down around us, we must acknowledge the god inside us, unfazed, smiling, and always willing to direct us towards the next step.  Stability, healing, and recovery depend not on what happens to us but on the reckoning and daily practice of honoring the divine life within. 

Addictive Nature

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It’s surreal to think of how a thing, a substance, sometimes so small, sometimes invisible or pleasantly deceptive to the human eye can utterly destroy a life.  Sometimes, these things appear to be beautiful in their rawest form.  A swaying cocoa plant or a vibrant poppy add beauty to the fields they inhabit.  It’s astonishing and at the same time unfathomable to accept the reality that these beautiful ornaments of nature-once they are separated from their original form and ingested-have the capacity to enslave and obliterate a person on every conceivable level.  

I think of these beautiful intricacies of nature in their true essence…I think of the lives that were once whole and later became separated from themselves and the world because of addiction.  This helps me understand that there is an objective and guiding principle pervading all living things:  Nature and people thrive and are at their most beautiful in their wholeness, and this should never be tampered with…

Be Still

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Man envies every least deserving thing.  He strives and dies for the things that should always be allocated at the background of reality.  The promotion, the size of his home, his bank account, the attention given by others, where his kids go to school, where he dines and gathers- all take center stage and consume the pathway to his purpose. And nature which seeks to teach him how to live, how to be happy, is altogether ignored, kicked away like an orphan who incessantly begs for loose change and crumbs.  He seldom ponders the trees that show him how to weather the inevitable storms, to stand strong through the turbulence, to accept harmoniously the place it’s been given, and to fall gracefully when it is time.  It’s tragic that we often fall prey to the erroneous escapes of life’s struggles-the pill, the powder, the bottle, the dollar, the relationship, etc- through self medication and yet, often ignore the guiding example of nature.   Nature stands still, stoically, through both the pleasant moments and drudgery of existence.  It doesn’t rebel nor complain about what should or could be… it stands and exists in perfect harmony with what is and what has been given.  If you’ve run out of answers, if there’s no more ways to escape left in you, switch your focus to bringing nature and life center stage and lessen your priorities on those things that hinder.  

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