Posts Tagged With: Spirituality

Film Review: Beyond

Beyond charts the quest of photographer Joey L. as he seeks religious ascetics in Varanasi, India to include in his series on Holy Men. Each morning before dawn Joey L., his assistant Ryan and filmmaker Cale Glendening make their way down to the Ganges where they remain until dusk. They roam its banks to find just the right light and spot to capture the core essence of the sadhus who willingly agree. But first something else must occur.

This is not merely a documentary about shooting images. It’s just as much on the importance of relationship, understanding and respect. Only by sitting with the sadhus, hearing their stories, sharing a meal does the deeper meaning of their chosen life emerge through film and photography. Trust develops. With a sensitivity unusual for one this young, Joey L. is given to portray them and their rituals in a way that austere beauty is clearly spoken. This is so particularly of the Aghori who are little understood by outsiders and often feared.

In the end, the filmmakers speak candidly about their experiences, how aspects may change who they are, and what they consider to matter.

I was truly moved and fascinated by this film⏤to the point I’m still thinking about it a couple of days later. The cinematography was beautiful and the photography exquisite. For more examples, view the websites of Joey L. and Cale Glendening.

Watch Beyond streaming free on Vimeo. 43 minutes.

Categories: cultural interests, Film Review, Global Consciousness | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Film Review: Griefwalker

Griefwalker

Griefwalker

Directed by Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson went into the hospital for a routine procedure and ended up on life support, hanging to this existence by a thread. A friend heard and emerged from the wild to lay his medicine pouch on Tim’s body, then left. Miraculously, Tim recovered and went back to the life he’d led.

When his friend saw him again after so many months he said, “You don’t sound to me like a man who’s been given his life back.” And Tim woke up.

This Canadian documentary is presented against the backdrop of Stephen Jenkinson’s work with the dying. But points to the fact that we’re all dying the moment we’re born. What does it mean to embrace knowledge of our own mortality as a “prized possession” to ensure we live well—every day—and use that understanding to turn our lives around, to make good choices toward what really matters?

Stephen’s words cause us to consider, in Western culture, Death has been tidied up, kept at arm’s length…and how…as a result, this major life passage none can escape is laced with deep soul suffering.

I’ve watched this powerful film twice now and still sitting with all there is to contemplate. Highly recommend for everyone.

Streaming online free on Culture Unplugged. 1 hour 10 minutes.

For more on the work of Stephen Jenkinson, including books, recorded interviews and teachings, go to Orphan Wisdom.

 

Categories: Film Review, Healthy Living, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Float: Losing Your Skin to Deep Relaxation

In the 1983 my life began to change drastically. I was living in Germany and suddenly exposed to many influences unavailable⎯or at least drastically hidden⎯in Ohio where I’d lived for the previous seventeen years. I regularly attended weekend seminars in Wiesbaden through the international branch of the Association for Humanistic Psychology featuring researcher Dr. Stanley Krippner’s work on dreams and shamanism, scientist Dr. Valerie Hunt’s research on the human energy system and others. And I was immersed in a progressive, experiential master’s degree program on human relations through the University of Oklahoma’s satellite program that exposed students to such areas as Virginia Satir’s family systems work, sacred Native American rituals and even Robert Monroe’s studies in out-of-body experiences.

It was somewhere in here that I heard about neuroscientist Dr. John Lilly’s sensory deprivation tanks, initially emerging from his interest in trance states and what happened⎯physically and mentally⎯to astronauts when freed from gravity. The late Edgar Mitchell, who went on to found the Institute of Noetic Sciences, is a good example, seen here in this beautiful tribute video We Are One.

I remember thinking: I wonder what it would be like if I no longer identified with my body or mind? I’d already been meditating for about five years, a practice begun as recovery from a serious health issue. After the first few years I’d begun to experience⎯what seemed like at the time⎯strange sensations in my body. Having no one to talk to about these experiences, it was a relief when I went to Dr. Hunt’s seminar to learn that energy was something present for everyone. We just need to open our awareness to it.

But there was no floatation tank available, and my desire to experience it went underground. Years later through meditation, ceremony and being in an altered state of consciousness for days through spiritual travel I would sporadically lose any sense of boundaries. The only way I could refer to it was “losing my skin.” These rare occurrences were spontaneous, nothing I could call on myself. But the sense it brought was merging with the Universe⎯not unlike what Edgar Mitchell described.

Then about a year ago I came across some information online indicating there’s been an upsurge in interest in floatation tanks, state-of-the art versions, and more prevalent opportunities to dip a toe in. In fact, there are several sites in Arizona alone. Indeed, it seems to be going as mainstream as massage therapy.

So a couple of weekends ago when I was in Sedona with close women friends, I suggested we make appointments at True Rest. We all held anticipation for the hour-long session. I’m sure with different thoughts going through our heads as with any unknown experience. There were three uppermost in my mind. I’ve never had claustrophobia but wondered if I’d have any anxiety being completely contained in a small pod. That was a needless concern. The young man on staff was very careful to introduce every aspect of the experience, through video and demonstrating each feature on the pod, including how to alleviate any sign of claustrophobia. The second thought in my mind was whether it would be like “losing my skin.” It was and more. The third had to do with sleep patterns and whether it would help. For years, I’d been experiencing cyclical issues with sleep. I was in the middle of one and sleep deprived.

The young guy on staff had offered his own story having to do with a broken back, intense chronic pain and no sleep, which had resolved through regular float sessions. So I was hopeful.

The float rooms and tanks are private with shower. The water in the pods is body temp and they’re filled with a huge amount of Epsom salts, causing the body to automatically float. There’s an option to have light or complete darkness, as well as soothing music or none. My initial experience was floating on a warm sea that graduated to being in the womb. And before long I did “lose my skin” and had the sense of being elevated somewhere in the clouds or beyond. Periodically, I would feel gently thrust through the earth’s core. A purely kinesthetic experience of nothingness, with movement, quite hard to describe. At one point I had a fleeting thought to breathe in and out of my third eye and was presented with extraordinary visuals and energy. As I breathed in, I was looking from above into billowing light and energy emerging through the third eye portal. As I breathed out I was in an underground cavern standing at the edge of a lake leading to light in the distance. I was in two places at once and witnessing from a distance, the image begging to be documented on canvas.

Pyrenees

Pyrenees, Camino Frances, 2015.

There was a sense of timelessness. After “no time” the filter began swirling and drew me back, letting me know the hour had somehow ended. I showered off and went to the other dressing room. My body was more relaxed than I could remember, even after a very good massage. I looked in the mirror and swear I appeared ten years younger.

But the best news is the longer effect it’s had on me. Since this initial float I’ve slept quite well at night. Only once did I resort to the herbal sleep aid I keep on hand. I feel rested upon awakening. The visuals are still vivid, waiting to be transferred to canvas.

After the float when my friends and I returned to our lodging I was drawn to sit outside where it opened to a creek and wilderness area beyond. I felt absolutely present with nature, a comforting stillness inside. I sat there for quite some time until I got up to leisurely shoot images of the ducks and light on the red rocks. Only in retrospect did I realize the float had provided this segue to absolute Presence.

Each friend’s experience was different; the common denominator was deep relaxation. When I spoke to the young man about the depth of my own initial experience, he said I was probably predisposed due to all my years of daily meditation practice. I intuitively knew how to put my mind and body in a state; the float took me the rest of the way. In all the literature I’ve read, including the classic book by Michael Hutchinson The Book of Floating: Exploring the Private Sea, experiences similar to mine do begin to occur after a series of floats, number depending on the individual. Long-term effects being: stress management, healing, pain management, enhanced creativity and sleep, increased problem solving capabilities, and spiritual consciousness. It’s even said to have effect on addiction and weight loss, which makes sense if the aforementioned attributes are in place.

Of course, the ultimate intent is to have such a Zen state integrated through daily life. It seems to me that, in addition to my daily meditation practice, a monthly float will help create such a passage. There’s no need to have the background knowledge that ushered me into my first session, just a desire to glean the benefits.

To find a floatation location in your area, go here. I do recommend True Rest in Sedona, with other locations in Arizona and elsewhere. The premises were quite lovely and spotlessly clean, and staff was welcoming and informative. Groupon coupon discounts are sometimes available.

Categories: Creativity Strategies, Energy Healing, Meditation, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Music Review – Standing on Sacred Ground

MarshallAlbum-2

Listening to singer-guitarist Kathy Marshall’s latest release, I wanted to curl up in front of a fire with a cup of tea, close my eyes and let her words and music wash over me. I became nostalgic for those traditional folk ballads from times past…and yet found them in the songs contained in Standing on Sacred Ground.

The lyrics are deeply personal and introspective, reflecting values of the musician: respect for Mother Earth, an urging to slow down and find truth within yourself, gratitude for blackberries. She tells stories about elements of life that are familiar to most of us and led me to reflect on my own life where there may be a similar thread of love or loss, and largely…celebration of what is. The guitar and other instruments are a beautiful accompaniment to stories she shares.

From Secrets to Life: Met a grey-haired woman laughing in her rocking chair. ‘Come sit down beside me,’ she crooned, ‘I got secrets to share.’

I particularly love this line from Dreamcatcher: …I dream a song and I sing a dream. Nothing there is impossible to me…

All lyrics and music written by Kathy Marshall. CD available to purchase or download via her website and CD Baby where you may also listen to individual songs.

 

Categories: Gratitude, Healing, Music Review | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Confessions of a Pagan Nun

Confessions of a Pagan Nun

Kate Horsley’s fascinating novel is about an adept caught in the shifting landscape of the Pagan Religion and Christianity in 6th century Ireland.  Not only does it document the times, but also allows us a real taste of the struggle those based in the Earth Religions endured.

Perhaps even importantly, Horsley leads us into the heart and mind of one so troubled, with the internal conflicts she faces between what she knows as her soul’s truth and the instinct for physical survival. This tale is as haunting and bittersweet as it is joyful. Readers may come to find relevance for their own lives in weighing the prices we pay for the choices we make.

Available via Amazon and other bookstores.

Categories: Book Review, Indigenous Rights, Meditation, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Becca Begnaud, Cajun Traiteur

In October 2012, I was visiting friends in Lafayette, Louisiana—Cajun Country—and fell in love with the area. My time there was made that much more interesting by meeting Becca Begnaud who is a traiteur, a Cajun prayer healer. I was invited to interview her for The Lifepath Dialogues during a program of hers. To me, the outcome was fascinating. We cover a lot of ground. Listen to Becca as she talks about what it means to be a traiteur, Cajun culture and challenges on the path as a healer. It’s worth 38 minutes of your time.

Interview on You Tube.

Interview on You Tube.

I will be returning to Lafayette shortly. Becca will be sponsoring my work for her Healing Arts Collective. You can find the details of the November 15 talk Timeless Pathways for Today’s Spirit Keepers and November 16 workshop Asking the Answer in this downloadable flyer. I’ll also be giving a talk in Baton Rouge on November 14 at The Red Shoes, a center for personal and spiritual growth. I’m very much looking forward to returning to this area, rich in so many ways.

Categories: cultural interests, Gratitude, Healing, Interview, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Iris

iris

From The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse
Compiled by Jack Zipes

Iris is a tribute to a boy’s fascination with a flower he knew as the sword lily, an older man’s deep love and the poignancy of things well known when very young but lost along the way. Hesse’s beautiful use of language in this short story invites us into the depth of the main character’s journey, one we may all take to some degree.

… this was the flower’s mouth, that behind the luxuriant yellow finery in the blue abyss lived her heart and thoughts, and that along this lovely shining path with its glassy veins her breath and dreams flowed to and fro…

This is a tale, an odyssey taken through life of innocent wisdom, distraction, loss—a meandering path that returns to the place it began. Iris will remind us that Hesse is a master storyteller imparting levels of knowledge if we’re ready to receive it. And for those Richard Bach fans it will recall Illusions and others like it.

Iris is a summons to read the complete collection of The Fairy Tales by Herman Hesse. All of the short stories are written between 1904 and 1918. But with titles like The Difficult Path, If the War Continues and A Dream About the Gods, this is also a book for seekers of today. Some things just don’t change.

Available through Amazon and elsewhere.

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Film Review: Water

water

Film by Deepa Mehta

This film is set in Varanasi, India during the time of Gandhi’s rise in the 1930s. It is, at once, much like India herself. The cinematography is incredibly beautiful recording the most holy temples, landscape, people and colors while forcing us to acknowledge devastating conditions in which so many of the people live, particularly women. A paradox placed upon the people through their most sacred beliefs. But it does not leave us with such discomfort alone. It also presents hope.

This is the story of eight year-old Chuyia, left suddenly a widow at the death of her many years older husband. As the sacred texts direct, she is sent to live in a house of widows, an ascetic, hair shorn, eating one meal a day, even though she never lived as a wife with her husband. A heart-breaking account of a practice that continues to this day in some areas. Doctrine states that while her husband is alive a woman is half his body, and when he dies she is half his corpse, held in highest esteem and yet treated badly, then living in the most extreme poverty. The hope offered in the film comes through the bond that develops between young Chuyia and some of the widows, the intervention of a stranger and the new teachings of Ghandhi making headway during those times.

The film was so controversial that, during its initial making in 2000, filmmaker Deepa Mehta, cast and crew were driven from Veranasi, their safety threatened by mobs and the set torn down, causing the project to be abandoned for a few years. Four years later, Mehta was able to complete the film in Sri Lanka. It was nominated for an Oscar in 2005.

Rather than be put off by the subject matter, I invite readers to view the film. It has a beautifully haunting quality that will stay with you for a long time. Available in DVD or watch online free. The soundtrack is equally mesmerizing.

Categories: cultural interests, Film Review | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: Acedia and Me – A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer’s Life

acedia

If you are one of those people who is unrelentingly committed to a path, particularly one that the world may little understand, and yet you have periodically fallen into doubt, there is actually a name for this affliction – much to my relief. Doubt is not really a good word for a state that can reach a level of deep despair and sense of futility. And yet it’s not depression in the clinical sense.

Acedia was included in the “eight bad thoughts” of the desert monks but was later inexplicably dropped when translated into the Catholic Church’s “seven deadly sins.” If only over the years I would have had a word for it, not as a sin but as a thought that can assail a person who has monkish tendencies or artists, advocates and others who probe the edges of convention. Then there could have been a level of comfort and normalcy in the experiences. But instead, the term and understanding of it was dropped into time, to be hidden in little known annals or diaries of people who had the courage to express it.

Kathleen Norris has done many of us a favor by writing a book about acedia, giving many personal examples and historical references. Taken from the book, “… the monk struggling with acedia is dealing with more than bad moods, psychic fluctuations, or moral defeats. It is a question of resolve that arises in the wake of a decisive choice for which the monk has risked his life’a danger to anyone whose work requires great concentration and discipline yet is considered by many to be of little practical value…”

Along with the author’s own writings, a real plus is in the last chapter, a collection forty-odd pages long of quotes, personal experiences from such luminaries as John of the Cross, Emily Dickinson, Petrarch, Dante, Evelyn Waugh and many others. Sometimes it helps to name something and I can sense a future essay of my own percolating. Read a Q&A with the author, plus an excerpt.

You may recognize the author’s name from her other books such as The Cloister Walk and Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. Read this latest book if your path has ever taken you into an unnamed state that may be acedia—or if you anticipate it could.

Available on Amazon and elsewhere.

Categories: Book Review, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lifepath Dialogues Gathering: Is Genetic Engineering Life-Affirming? (Audio)

The Lifepath Dialogues Gathering is held on the fourth Wednesdays, 6:30-8 PM, at Creekside Center in Prescott, Arizona. The intent is to build like-hearted community and dialogue about what truly matters. I choose monthly topics from my blog and host the evening with special invited guest(s) whose philosophies and work are relevant to the topic. The format involves my presentation of material to create a framework and interview of the special guests. This portion is recorded to share with the world community—wherever you are. Then we turn off the recorder and turn to intimate sharing.

The October 24 Lifepath Dialogues Gathering:

Is Genetic Engineering Life-Affirming?

This discussion was based on the collaborative post: What Legacy GMOs?

I was out of town for the October gathering. I want to thank special guest host Lesley McKeown, Vice Chair, and board member of GMO-Free Prescott, a nonprofit organization seeking to raise awareness of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and encourage nourishing food options. October was National Non GMO Month. This topic is so important to health and preservation of tradition. The subject matter is a very tangible aspect of spirituality: what we put into our bodies.

The complete unedited audio is about 40 minutes long. Click on the link below to listen. Please be patient as it may take a few minutes to download! I hope you enjoy.

Is Genetic Engineering Life-Affirming?

Wicked Corn

Our next gathering will be held on Wednesday, November 28, 6:30-8 PM, at Creekside Center as usual.  My special guest will be Yaqin Lance Sandleben, an ordained Sufi minister. 

To remain current on monthly topics subscribe to The Lifepath Dialogues blog or Kenosis Inspirations ezine.

Categories: Healthy Living, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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