Posts Tagged With: Carla Woody

The Wake-Up Call: Part I

Time for A Change

The Wake-up Call

The Wake-up Call
©2011 Carla Woody

Something has been running beneath my skin; not pain or real discomfort, more something urging change–an eager part of me pulling away, separating out, wanting to rip the bandage off. What I’d made familiar, through my own intent, attraction and careful placement has become–to an extent–mundane. I am a creature who relishes evolution, really revolution. Looking back over the last few years, I discovered that I’d gotten lazy. I’d become a prisoner of the status quo, a resting place ordinarily quite distasteful to me.

So this energy has been humming, making waves beneath my skin, in readiness. But toward what? To where? It’s been a mystery. There’s only been a glimmer. My eyes refused to focus, there being nothing solid they could land on.

When I’m in creation mode my mind has a strategy, somewhat like unconscious storyboarding. Ideas get filed away on post-it notes hanging out in space. Some are more visible, some completely obscured. There’s a time they collect in the ether, simply shimmering in the breeze. When the time is right the truly valid piece parts are attracted to each other and swoop down and join. The puzzle comes together. The image may be seen in its totality. I’ve learned to have patience with the process.

But when there are distractions, as there have been lately, when there’s so much drawing on my attention, it can be like an internal tornado where everything gets caught up and whirled together, making the process longer than necessary.

The Breakthrough

The Breakthrough
©2001 Carla Woody

I’ve been in Ireland on vacation. This time it took jet lag, being awake in the middle of the night with no hope of returning to sleep. There’s a several hour time difference from my home in the US. The urge to boot up the computer to check email wasn’t there. I had no Internet access. The phone wasn’t ringing; no cats demanded breakfast, nothing to get up and clean. All was taken out of my hands. There was no external “noise.” I was given an invitation: to be–only–fully present.

And that’s when it all began to come together: the answer to the question running beneath my skin.

What do I want now?

 What more do I want to create?

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Go here to read The Wake-Up Call: Part II – The Attunement.

Categories: Creativity Strategies, Meditation, NLP, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Edge of Limitation

For years I led a meditation group. A good number of folks were faithful to this weekly gathering, a quite important factor because every one of them extended their self-intent to the group as a whole through presence and commitment. Consequently, when we came together we were able to dive deeply—immediately.

Resistance

The Resistance
Photo: Carla Woody

We always opened with breathing together, to leave the day behind and connect with each other energetically. Then I would open the circle for sharing before we moved on to guided meditations. One time during the open frame a long-time participant asked a question.

What is the edge of limitation?

It was an astounding question, one I’m not sure I adequately answered in that moment. It was a question that—over time—framed a journey of my own, an odyssey into self-inquiry and the nature of a spiritual journey. I went on to write an entire chapter on this question in Standing Stark and, in the process, generated other queries to further define the question. Some of them are below.

Where is the meeting point between complacency and possibility?

Where is the meeting point between pain and healing?

Where is the meeting point between control and surrender?


Invitation

The Invitation
Photo: Carla Woody

Recently I was camping in Utah with friends. When we get together we’re in the habit of exploring such territory. So, sitting around an evening campfire, I brought up the question originally posed to me. Thoughtful discussion unfolded. We may have had different words for that edge—but we all recognized it. With their permission I’m sharing excerpts of our conversation.

  • …the duel…as one decides or is compelled to take the risk of expansiveness or remain stuck…
  • …looking from the inside, fear is as far as I can go—the limitation…from the outside, I cross the “edge of limitation” as I conquer the fear.
  • …a balance point between growth and fear, then maybe as the high tide mark—which moves and shifts—between those two.

Clearly, the edge of limitation is something you lead up tounless you’re merely fantasizing. New considerations will open to places that are unfamiliar. I use a variety of metaphors to describe that state. Perhaps it’s a dark forest where the path isn’t visible. Maybe it’s a membrane you bump up against; to break through the sheathing involves an identity level shift: how you are in the world. Or it’s a threshold, the precipice where a decision is made to retreat or move forward. So the edge of limitation is the pinpoint in thought, time and space before Separation from the old self of status quo.

Fulfillment

The Fulfillment
Photo: Carla Woody

One time I asked retreatants to do an exercise I drew from NLP. They chose an area of their lives where they experienced a block. Then I invited them to choose two spaces along a line they imagined on the floor. The first had to do with the edge that, if they moved beyond it, would take them through the threshold to freedom. Second, they chose a space along the line, prior to the first space, that signified their degree of resistance regarding the issue. The farther back they stood, the greater the degree of discomfort or blockage. Some had their backs up against the wall; others were poised close to the edge. I invited them to try something out; to physically walk along the line, out of the space of resistance and up to the edge; and if they chose, to cross the threshold to what lies beyond. To a one, they did. Their responses ranged from displays of relief to calm to abject jubilation. Fear vacated and possibility took its place.

Sometimes it’s just that simple to open the way.

Categories: Healing, Meditation, NLP, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Readiness

Author at Hayu Marca

The author at Hayu Marca, Puno Region, Peru.
Photo credit: Darlene Dunning

Excerpted from Navigating Your Lifepath.

Preparing for the Journey

The point of readiness is exactly that.  It’s a pinpoint in time, a moment of decision when we are poised at the threshold contemplating intent’s power to move us to a farther path from where we’ve been.

Hopefully, readiness endures. Some people dance back and forth or even all around it. Others try to ignore it. But it’s hard not to notice a strong wind at your back urging you to go somewhere, to fly over the landscape.

Still others go willingly, pausing for a moment and then stepping deftly through the doorway. But they, too, had to come to that marker called readiness—even if more subtly—the love of adventure already built into their personality.

This is the path called evolution. We’re all on it. Some of us rest on the plateau longer than others. Most of us take a series of leaps in our lifetime. The question here is to consider: How do we know when it’s time to go? To jump? To move through? To evolve?

The movement we entertain or undertake may not even be visible to those around us. Yet there is a part of us that is restless, that’s weary of standing still—or worse, running in place. It’s this part that asks: What needs to be in place in order to come to readiness? Is there something to settle? Or maybe a little used quality to call into service? Perhaps it’s the courage to open to something new instead of settling for what has been.

I invite you to reflect on your own readiness and the questions here. Add more of your own. Then allow your expression to emerge.

Announce yourself.

Categories: Healing, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Tasking

Excerpt from Standing Stark.

Rio Paucartambo
Salk’awasi, Mollamarka, Peru
Photo: Carla Woody, 2004

Set your intent and let it go. Your intent is your beginning. Worrying about the details detracts from the intent. In your strong intent, the attraction will take care of the details.

The first aspect of beginning is assessing yourself and taking responsibility for your own course, where it has taken you and where you are now. That responsibility will determine your future—the one that exists through the vibration you now exude.

This is the Separation and then the Search. It isn’t really a search as much as it is a surrendering to intent. The giving over is to intent. Then intent takes the lead and brings you what will take you further. It will take you further to recognize your Core Self, the Self that had been hidden from you previously, but the one that had been there all along.

Sometimes the realization comes through sitting still—through patience and listening. It’s not listening to what has been habit, but listening to the quieter place and the guidance there.

Sometimes the realization comes through an action, but only an action made from clarity, from impeccability. Otherwise, it’s an action taken from habit. Then the action will merely tell you something about your habit.

An action arising from the deeper place will have a solid knowing and urging about it. It’s a bodily felt energy that envelops you in knowing. It’s not a feeling of desperation accompanied by inappropriate or castigating internal voices. That’s the dialogue through which the actions of habit are fulfilled.

Actions of impeccability move you along the warrior’s path of utter surrender to the destiny of Knowing and Not Knowing. It is the knowing of the Core Self in all aspects, in all human tendencies, in all that is resident of Source. It is the not knowing of the profound comfort of the Infinite.

It is the mind overtaken by Spirit.

It is the mind having willingly succumbed to the wider wisdom dwelling within and without.

And you have to leave the place of previous comfort and familiarity in order to uncover it.

Categories: Healing, Meditation, Personal Growth | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Wanderings and Inspiration

This is an excerpt of an article I published in 2006 about what happens when you leave “home” with intent; what can show up to inspire; and a bit about the beauty of the land and people of Chiapas, Mexico.

Lake Najá Photo

Lake Najá
©2011 Carla Woody

If I have an indulgence, it’s travel. On second thought, it’s not an indulgence at all, but one of the significant ways I care for myself. It serves as a gateway to wider experience of the world—and self-discoveries as well. These are intangibles I can bring home, like souvenirs, even if no one else can see them. But they won’t be put away in a drawer or gather dust on a shelf. Instead, they impact who and how I am in the world.

But it’s not just any kind of travel that has this effect. It’s the kind where I choose to step outside time. Having identified specific points in the calendar that the journey will begin and end, with a wide reach in-between, l just let go of any schedules or agendas. So strongly programmed by our culture to have both those things as absolute necessities of life, the residue may linger on for a bit until it clears completely. When the space vacates, it opens a portal toward untold treasures.

Palenque in the Mist

Palenque in the mist
© 2010 Carla Woody

Palenque

Over the years I’ve found myself drawn repeatedly to the Mexican state of Chiapas bordering Guatemala, particularly the Palenque area. The village of Palenque holds no real fascination. Stepping off the bus though, I did feel the familiar sense of anticipation. For as we headed out of town in a taxi toward our destination, climbing a bit in elevation, feeling the balmy air soothing my skin, a part of me sighed, “Ahhhh… home again.”

There was the dirt path alongside the road. Playing over memories of the many different times I traversed there, to and from the ruins, breaking out of the thick, moist rainforest from who knew where, or headed to Mayabel for a cold one in their open-air café, the screams of howler monkeys periodically punctuating the air in early morning or dusk.

The Palenque ruins, and those of Yaxchilán and Bonampak buried in the rainforest, contain a resonance, one captured through history and brought up through time. Unfortunately to me, things have changed and these places aren’t as obscure as they once were, but the vibration endures. Tourists who sprint through won’t experience it though. It takes lingering and opening to what these timeless places have to share. It takes immersion. Only then will they offer up their secrets.

The Lacandón Maya

The Lacandón Maya reside in this region in the depths of the Lacandón Jungle. Their appearance and form of traditional sacred rituals set them apart from the highland Maya. Their creation stories have the familiar ring of what we know from the ancient Maya of that area. For centuries they avoided contact with the outside world, continuing their practices and passing stories down through generations. They weren’t hidden enough. In the last several decades, like an infestation of fleas, missionaries and loggers descended.

Chan K’in Viejo

Chan K'in Viejo

Chan K’in Viejo
©1960 Collin Hanney

The central guardian of the ancient traditions was Chan K’in Viejo, the spirit holder of the Lacandones, living in the small enclave of Najá, a place, difficult to reach, in the heart of the Lacandón Biosphere. As the vast rainforest was whittled away around him, and more of his people were enticed away by Western trappings, he was steadfast in the virtues his tradition brought him. Quietly tending his crops, feeding the god pots with copal, leading the balché ceremonies and telling stories for those who would still listen, he held to the central truth. “The roots of all things are connected. When a tree is cut in the forest, a star falls in the sky.”

By the time he left this world in 1996 he may have sadly marveled there was any light left overhead so open was the view to the heavens! His great concern was also that the Lacandones would have no home and their ancient, esoteric tradition would no longer exist. (To link to a recording of Chan K’in Viejo speaking to his children in 1991, go here. The audio is in Lacandón Maya with transcripts also in Spanish/English.)

Trudi Duby Blom

Gertrude Duby Blom

Gertrude Duby Blom
Date and credit unknown

From the 1950s until her passing in 1993, Gertrude Duby Blom photographed many parts of Lacandón life, thereby documenting people and their traditions, nearly lost to us today. A deep friendship endured. Even today, should any Lacandones venture from their jungle homes to San Cristóbal de las Casas, they have lodging at Na Bolom, the House of the Jaguar. Once the home of Trudi and Frans Blom, it’s now a museum focusing on the life and traditions of the Lacandón Maya.

When my companion and I were in San Cristóbal, we visited Na Bolom, having lingered over the photos and ritual objects. I stood a long time in Trudi Blom’s small bedroom, looking at her personal items, gazing at her clothing still hung in a wardrobe, imagining what it must have been like to live her life.

What inspires me?

People who stand for what they believe, living an un-prescribed life—unless it’s a prescription of their own making. They are fresh and enduring, even if their un-prescribed life is a secret they hold, unknown to the masses, one practiced alone or acknowledged by few.

Then there are the places in this world that have invoked inspiration for many. The collective energy is maintained through the intensity of the ageless offerings and the beauty of the land.

These things are food for the soul discovered through my own wanderings and with those who consent to accompany me.

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To read the complete article go here. To learn more about our upcoming Winter Solstice 2012 and January 2013  Entering the Maya Mysteries program go here.


Categories: Indigenous Wisdom, Lacandón Maya, Personal Growth, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gift of Mother India

Last night I saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel with a circle of friends. It’s a film about travelers all seeking something—even if they didn’t know it—against the backdrop of very foreign land, in this case Jaipur, India. As we sat around a restaurant table afterwards, my friends and I had plenty of fodder for discussion—and for me, waves of beautifully intense memories flooded back.

In February of 1998 I was in Delhi and Jaipur studying raga, Indian classical vocal music, with Pir Shabda Kahn, who is now spiritual leader of the Sufi Ruhaniat International and Director of the Chisti Sabri School of Music. I was truly ripe for my experience in Mother India and what unfolded back then. Through the daily hours-long practice the veil became quite thin. I remember having a challenge staying grounded in “normal” reality at all. The drone of the tamboura going straight in through my crown set up the ensuing Initiation quite nicely. I relayed part of my experience in my first book: Calling Our Spirits Home.

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Temple photo

Burial temple in Delhi of Hazrat Inayat Khan, who brought Sufism to the west.

I was drawn to go to India.  I was inexplicably drawn from the depths of my soul.  I had no words of explanation for my friends and family.  I had no expectations toward the outcome.  Yet, I knew that India had something to teach me, and that I would learn.  I found myself in a state of not knowing, but trusting.

We landed in Delhi in the early morning hours.  As our taxi conveyed us to our hotel, I was immediately transported back to 1978.  Magically, my time travel took me to the six months I spent in Iran.  There was a palpable aura of dejá vu as I noted the walls at streets’ edges barring glimpses into homes beyond and battered shutters rolled down over crumbling shop fronts.  The same coating of dust blanketed everything.  I saw the faces of the Iranian people I knew back then in the dark skin and beautiful brown eyes of our taxi driver.  I said to myself: This is nothing new.

In the days that followed, I made entries into my mental databank:  beautiful architecture, beggars on the street, tent dwellings, exquisite handicrafts, waves of people, gracious smiles, noxious fumes and traffic without rules.  Each time effectively dissociated, I said: I’ve seen this before.  Then we left Delhi and went to Jaipur.

While still in Delhi, I wrote about my feelings that, as I looked back on them later, seemed prophetic to me.  From my journal: “I feel as though I am waiting to leave Delhi and go to Jaipur where something awaits me.  I have the sense of going into myself and knowing that Self in all its manifestations—past, present and future…”

Choutu Singh

Choutu Singh

I spent the first days in Jaipur in meditative practices sequestered in the compound of Diggi Palace where we were staying.  Diggi Palace was so named from its history as the hunting lodge of a long-gone maharaja.  Its modest rooms and grounds provided an oasis in the heart of Jaipur.  On the third day, my companion and I left the grounds and encountered Choutu Singh, the young Indian man who would become our constant guide.  He offered us the services of his rickshaw and there I began my Initiation.

It seemed that Choutu drove us through every aspect of Jaipur and suddenly I experienced all as new—and connected directly to me.  From my enduring meditations, or perhaps from just being in Mother India, I was in a heightened state of awareness.  As we drove through byways and alleyways, the material destitution of the people I saw entered me.  The filth I saw entered me.  The barrage of noise and toxic air entered me.  The open sides of the rickshaw found no barrier, physical or psychic, that divided any experience from me.  There were no boundaries.  All was seamless and I said out loud, “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Jaipur photo

Street scene Jaipur.

Carla Woody photo

Author Carla Woody in a Jain Temple in Jaipur.

We had stopped in a gem shop when I experienced waves of illness—immediate, sudden.  Although quite healthy prior to our venture out that afternoon, by the time we returned to Diggi Palace less than an hour later, I was desperately ill.  Fever, chills, insomnia and acute body aches were my companion through the night.

Inexplicably, waves of intense sadness arose from unaccountable depths.  It was mine and it was not mine.   Tears streamed down my face off and on through the night and during meditation the next morning.  Then, I put hands on myself with the intent toward healing and began to feel better throughout the day.  That night I had a normal night’s sleep and awoke feeling energetic and light as though I had been through a deep cleanse.

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It took me two years to integrate this gift. Through that process I learned that dissociating from what brings fear only enlarges upon fear. Solely by fully associating, inviting the demon to tea as Shabda was fond of saying, allowing the aversion or angst to wash through consciousness may it be transformed. I remain indebted to Pir Shabda Kahn for creating the safe haven for this particular Initiation of mine.

Categories: Arts, Healing, Meditation, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Learning to Love Globally

In the spring of 2010 some local artists and students began a mural project at Miller Valley Elementary School depicting some of the actual students at work and play. This empowering slogan ran across the walls at the major intersection where the school is located: “Learning to Love, Loving to Learn.” It was part of a public mural project that was started around town years before to depict history, enhance beauty, relay affirming messages, and engage the public.

The portrait of a Hispanic boy featured prominently in the artwork. A City Council member objected and became quite vocal via his radio show, inciting racism. The artists and students endured drive-by insults and demonstrations, both pro and con. Giving into pressure, the principal told the artists to lighten the boy’s complexion, then retracted that direction. The town known as “Everybody’s Hometown” ended up on national news and talk shows showing that it was anything but that.

The wife of a Native person we’d sponsored for our Spirit Keepers Series contacted me from Washington saying, “Tell me it’s not so.” I was absolutely incensed and ashamed that such a thing would happen here—or anywhere for that matter.

Here’s what I note about the backlash: When the pendulum is ready to swing dramatically, resistance becomes even stronger to hold things back. This is true whether it happens within the psyche of an individual or globally. The important thing is: to acknowledge the resistance, the clashing factions, indeed document it; and move forward anyway. The intensity wouldn’t have happened unless progress was being made.

But integration and healing must take place. Such things can’t slip by or remain simmering beneath the surface. This certainly goes for us as individuals—and the wider world we inhabit.

Jacob Devaney of Culture Collective intends to produce a film of the mural controversy. Here’s what Jacob said to me: “One aspect that relates to work you’re doing is the idea of ‘listening is healing, or being heard is healing.’ When a community is able to feel heard and able to define itself through its own stories instead of having the outside world define them, it is healing. It is true in many indigenous cultures as well, we need to be able to listen to each other and feel heard. That’s how healing works. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about having your voice counted. That’s what public art does; and that’s what this film seeks to accomplish.”

This will be a film that helps heal a community—but also the larger world. Culture Collective is now raising the funds needed. I invite you to support inclusiveness. To learn more visit Up Against the Wall Film—Public Art Indicted.

Categories: Arts, Compassionate Communication, Healing, Personal Growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Spiritual Travel: Destination or Process?

Some years ago I had an inquiry from someone who was interested in the Entering the Maya Mysteries program I was sponsoring; specifically he was enticed by a destination on the itinerary. He’d done a search and I was the only one offering the opportunity. “But,” he said. “I’m not so sure about this ‘spiritual travel’ stuff.”

How to explain something so intangible? In one respect, it contains elements of tangibility: sites and interactions. Invisible to the naked eye, perhaps unanticipated by the mind, are myriad ways to be drawn into the deeper journey that define these potentially uncharted waters—without conscious realization in the moment that you’ve taken the plunge. Hence, enter aspects that: may have no words or audible sound, cannot be held in your hands, your eye can’t get a bead on, can seem ordinary but aren’t. Yet it produces something akin to a lightning strike that splits the rough outer covering and creates an opening, a probable pathway — and a tangible result. There appears a fork in the road inviting decision. It’s not the territory for a faint-hearted tourist but the traveler of a different sort.

Offering I

Offering I
Mixed media on Arches 88
©2012 Carla Woody

I personally welcome those unending layers and outcomes, only bits and pieces of the larger picture solidifying long after closure of the initiation. I’ve had the great fortune, maybe even destiny, to create such organic spaces, through many years’ relationship-building and travel with special intent: being alert to those people and places who offer themselves as powerful conduits. These elements being necessary to push the energy—our energy—to catapult us beyond places that have grown familiar.

My brand of spiritual travel is physically comprised of sacred sites, ceremonies and those who keep the rituals and stories. The travelers who show up to participate equally act as catalysts. An entrainment occurs and each one gains what they need to further the collective and their own journey. And we find out what it’s like to be at play in a field of mirrors: coming face-to-face with aspects that call out for healing and simultaneously create beauty. I personally celebrate it all.

The question arises: do you have to travel to experience such initiation? You do. We are creatures of habit who tend to cling to a mindset that is familiar, even if not particularly healthy. You must be willing to move outside the container: to be fearless, to be open, to explore. You must embody courage to create a wider life. That’s travel.

The fast track requires putting the daily life on pause and dropping yourself into an unfamiliar environment to rediscover what you forgot. When people gather with this common intent, magic happens. They give themselves permission to explore parts of themselves they’re not so in touch with. Add exposure to Native peoples who inherit a sense of the sacred as an integral aspect of life—and a landscape of possibility appears.

When that happens it leaves an indelible impression and shifts who you are in the world. I frequently face a challenge finding words to express the profound value of the intangible elements running through the lifework I’ve chosen. I currently live in a culture that values the immediate result while ignoring the process that’s all-important in creating something of deep meaning that endures. My sense is that if we’re able to finally find comfort floating in the abyss, it will produce all that’s ever needed–beyond what we could imagine. But it takes travel. I’ll leave you with this quote from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller:

And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life; and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to the meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.

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Author’s note: Those years ago I must have found the right words. I’m happy to report that the man concerned about the “spiritual travel” stuff has since traveled with me twice. And even more importantly, in the process, we’ve become friends.

For information on our upcoming “Entering the Maya Mysteries” programs, go here. For other spiritual travel destinations, go here.

Categories: Indigenous Wisdom, Personal Growth, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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