Thursday, June 01, 2017

Meditate on This!

I don't know about you, but meditation scares me.

I can't keep strange thoughts out of my head and often struggle to clear my mind. The problem is that my mind is only clear when I sleep and it takes me long enough to quiet enough to get to sleep. How can I meditate if getting to sleep is such a problem?

My mind is always full of something. Grumbling about co-workers and politicians and people who irritate me (and not just people who are family). Research keeps my thoughts busy and keep me far from the calm I seek in which to meditate. My mind is never quiet -- at least not for very long.

About the only thing that clears my mind is calling someone and having to deal with leaving a message on their service or answering machine. Then I go _______________ BLANK! I fumble for the right words. I struggle to get past the blank in my mind that contains information and a not so witty message to leave and not get immediately erased or ignored. I finally manage to say something that doesn't make me sound like an idiot who got caught off guard when the answering machine or service asks me for the reason I called. Saying, "Because you called me first," is not an option and I don't want to seem like a bigger idiot than I already do. I'd rather be caught in public naked than to deal with leaving a message. It doesn't matter if I've called a business with a specific issue in mind or a friend just to say hello; I am flummoxed and silent. My mind is blank. I've nothing to say and yet I cannot hang up like a stalker. I must leave some indication that I had a reason for calling.

Why can't I call up those blank moments when I want to meditate? That would be perfect. My mind is blank and I need not say anything because I am listening to the cosmos or the universe or the silence in my mind waiting to be filled with shining purpose as I wait to be guided, fulfilled, or empty so that I may at last move toward the purpose that motivated me to meditate in the first place.

I get messages from a service every day and this message about meditation for beginners, something I need assistance doing, was perfect for me.



The following is an excerpt from the "Meditation for Beginners" on-line course. If you would like to enroll in the course, click here.

If the mere idea of meditating feels uncomfortable--or scary even, that's okay. Exploring unknown territory usually does. But don't worry, you won't turn into a hippie, have to change your friends, or pack up and move to a commune in order to reap the benefits of your meditation practice. This is a gift you're giving yourself and nobody even needs to know you are meditating, but you just might love it so much that you will want to teach your friends and family.

Let's take a moment to get clear on what meditation really is. The term "meditation" can refer to any process that leads you to an inner state of relaxed awareness. There needn't be any big mystery or drama about the process itself, and there's really no right or wrong way of doing it. There are simply different techniques that can be used as tools to help you focus and quiet your mind, and we'll work with some of these as the weeks unfold. This will allow you to choose which method works best for you as a person. I still have a hard time quieting my mind and I find that my meditation practice is more fulfilling for me while I'm in nature. Our main purpose here is to help you develop a meditation practice that's right for you. It'll be something you feel comfortable doing and that you're willing and able to do regularly.

For those of us who already have a meditation routine, we've come to depend on the way our practice enhances our lives. We've discovered an ever-present source of inner peace and wisdom from which we can now draw strength, courage, clarity and compassion. It has become easier to respond to situations from a calm and grounded place, rather than acting out old dysfunctional patterns. We're also better able to navigate our lives in alignment with our own needs and goals. A morning meditation will give you the quiet confidence and the strength you will need for your day.

Research has linked a regular practice of meditation to reduced levels of anxiety and stress, in addition to improved immune function and a host of other health benefits. Studies have shown that the nervous system actually begins responding differently to stressful situations--creativity flows more freely and new solutions begin to emerge. What's wonderful is that many of these advantages occur after just one session and continue evolving with regular practice. As you develop your own meditation program, you'll be able to track the benefits for yourself, from changes in your mood to improvements in your energy. Soon you will find yourself reacting from a place of centered calm rather than from your head. 


And then there is me. Meditation is supposed to reduce anxiety and stress and nothing makes me more anxious and stressed out to the max than contemplating meditation. 

It has taken me a very long time to figure out that it is normal for thoughts to intrude when beginning to meditate. Minds are seldom blank when beginning to practice meditation. The trick is to push the errant thoughts out of the way and breathe, just breathe. The more we practice clearing our minds and listening to the world around us, the easier it becomes. Meditation isn't forcing your body and mind to obey. Meditation is finding a quiet moment, pushing rampant thoughts out of the way, and breathing in and out, being aware of the passage of oxygen into the lungs and out through the nose or mouth, and allowing yourself to focus on the breath. Thoughts will intrude, but push them out and focus on breathing -- in and out -- again. Being aware of breathing and relaxing into the breathing helps to calm the mind and still the thoughts. Thoughts will intrude and be pushed out again. Thoughts will continue to intrude and continue to be pushed out until the longer one meditates, the easier it will be to breathe and relax. 

When the mind refuses to calm and clear, simply get up and go about your day until the time comes when you can relax and focus on breathing -- and listening. Listen to the world around you. Listen to the sounds of life inside and outside of your space. Take a walk in the yard or the park or wherever you happen to be and focus on breathing in and out. The more you practice paying attention to your breathing, the easier meditation will become. 

One thing I have also found is that working on cross-stitch or writing help calm my mind and make me more receptive to meditation and listening to the world around me. I am concentrating on putting the stitches in the right place with the correct color and shape. My mind is calm and clear. The only thoughts are focused on stitching whatever I'm making. I am unaware of time passing and my mind is calm and uncluttered by random thoughts. It is while I'm thus engaged that I meditate -- and I breathe. I don't keep track and I am not overwhelmed by questions. I listen to the sounds around me and feel the stress and anxiety leave my body and my mind. For me, cross stitching is a form of meditation -- and I get something done. My mind is open and receptive and the universe (or the story I'm working on) is clear. I am meditating. 

I don't fall asleep because I'm not clearing my mind in order to allow to rest my body and mind. I have no purpose in mind other than the piece I'm stitching. I am meditating. 

I discovered how to find a way to clear my mind and listen to the world around me -- and inside of me -- without really looking for it. I didn't struggle to quiet my mind. I discovered the key to meditation for me was through cross stitch and the rest was added without me turning into a lunatic or an idiot. I found what was always available to me by simply being myself. Everyone can meditate and sometimes the key to meditation is already within your grasp. Special music, prayers, mental gymnastics, and other methods that seem to work for everyone else may be totally unnecessary. Within you is the key to unlock the method of meditation that works for you. All you need to do is stop, breathe, and wait for it. No matter how unorthodox or strange it seems to someone else, go for it. 

We are all individuals with different ways of learning and listening. There is no wrong way to learn to meditate. All we need to do is stop struggling for what may already be in your grasp. You will find it and meditation will manifest itself in your life when you least expect it to. In the meantime, relax, go about your life, and breathe. It will find you if you don't find it. 

That is all. Disperse. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Wolf Never Listens When Sheep Bleat

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

That is what I was taught and what I have learned as I go about the world is that no truer words were ever spoken. Power and corruption go hand in glove, one often inextricable from the other. We see it all around us as the police who are paid to protect us against criminals are often as criminal as the men and women who transgress the bounds of laws. The government that pays the police to protect us are often busy locking arms to prevent the abused from getting justice and the adjudicators paid to serve as advocates for Lady Justice have locked arms with the government and the police to deny the victims access to justice and will wrap their refusal to serve Lady Justice, that blind-folded lady holding the sword and the scales in double-speak and soothing disinformation in order to provide cover for the abusers of our rights and freedoms while proclaiming their innocence. Once again I return to the time will Bill Clinton lied about his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky and defended his lie by saying that truth depends on the definition of what IS is. Typical lawyer speak for yet another lawyer who has used his training in the law to deny justice and truth.

In watching The Keepers, a video series available on Netflix about who killed Sister Cathy Cesnik and the priest who went from parish to parish bringing his power and his sexual abuse with him, the story about Sister Cathy Cesnik takes on a whole new meaning -- and a much broader scope. Didn't a pope recently step down because of his involvement in protecting the Roman Catholic Church in cases where priests were sexually abusing children? There is that sexual abuse angle in Sister Cathy Cesnik's murder and the priest, Father Joseph Maskell, who was involved in sexual abuse in the Archbishop Keough (pronounced kee-oh) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Father Maskell, in his position at Keough High School as guidance counselor and priest, used his power and position to systematically female students in his charge. Sister Cathy Cesnik was the English and Drama teacher who became involved in helping her students fight back against this pedophile priest and ended up dead for her efforts, though no one knows who killed her. Father Maskell took one student to where Sister Cathy's body had been dumped to illustrate the lesson that people who talk about who, what, where, and when they are being abused end up dead. Father Maskell blamed the student for confiding in Sister Cathy for killing the 26-year-old nun and, he warned the student, if she continued to talk about what happened to her, he assured the girl she would follow Sister Cathy Cesnik and end up another dead body on a secluded hill.

Sister Cathy Cesnik's life up to the point of the series, The Keepers, is not the focus of the abuse or the power Father Maskell corrupted, but brings me back to the presidential election last year when Hillary Clinton ran and all the secrets and scandals that swirled around the Clintons and the powerful company they kept that ensured that Hillary would never have to face prosecution or even a grand jury as long as she continued to abuse her power as Secretary of State and ex-First Lady when her husband Bill was president. Hillary's crimes would never pass muster with the Justice Department not as long as Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, was in charge (as James Comey clearly demonstrated) or Obama was still present exerting his power behind the scenes while claiming ignorance until he hears about yet another scandal in the news. Loretta Lynch would prove to be just as ineffectual as her predecessor, Eric Holder, had been in dealing with scandals swirling about the powerful center of Obama's administration.

Even with thousands of classified emails turning up on Anthony Weiner's laptop, courtesy of his wife, Huma Abedin, close confidante of Hillary Clinton, and destroyed subpoenaed evidence from her server in the basement bathroom of her home and 14 iphones and similar communication devices with BleachBit and hammers, and even losing a laptop in the mail when it was being sent to the FBI for investigation, the power surrounding Hillary and Bill Clinton locked arms and protected them from Lady Justice. Comey said as much in answering questions before a Senate committee looking into the FBI's investigation of Hillary, though Comey did not go into detail since he could not/would not be specific about investigations ongoing or currently under scrutiny. Comey's comments during his July press conference informing the public of what had been discovered about Hillary's use of a private and unsecured server handling classified material walked the razor's edge between listing Hillary's extremely careless handling of classified material as Secretary of State and her well known destruction of evidence did not, in his opinion, stand up to scrutiny legally as no prosecutor would try a case that could not win beyond a reasonable doubt. Government, how reluctantly, will lock arms with the privileged and powerful to deny Lady Justice the opportunity weigh the case in her scales or deliver justice with her upraised sword. It is probably a very good thing Lady Justice is blind-folded since she cannot criticize what she is never allowed to see.

Hillary continues to quip at commencement speeches and in 6-figure speeches about how she was denied the presidency because the Russians interfered in out democratic elections (no evidence at this point), James Comey's investigation into her handling of classified government material on her 1 device (there were 14 at the last count) using her private server in her home's basement bathroom (no one told her it was illegal, not even the times that the State Department's IT staff told her she must use the government servers and a government-issued device) to access her state department emails and classified material because that way the government could protect the information in-house. Of course WikiLeaks is also one of the excuses Hillary gives for her loss, after Russian interference and James Comey's investigation, and never mentions that she never showed up to campaign hard in most of the states in which Trump won victories after huge rallies. Hillary counted on dogged Democrats doing what Democrats have done since LBJ and vote for Hillary even after Hillary and the DNC colluded to deny Bernie Sanders voters could even cast votes when the election was rigged, even when WikiLeaks published emails from John Podesta, Hillary's campaign manager, surfaced laying out how Bernie Sanders would be brought to heel with Russian hackers leaking the information to WikiLeaks and its Russian hacking cadre were unmasked (yet another Russian conspiracy with no teeth and no evidence).

The fact is that Hillary is ill and cannot handle the crowds (or evidently the rallies since none were scheduled) any more, but Hillary is well served with handlers armed with injectable medications ready at a moment's notice and with access to a get-away car as we saw when Hillary left the 9/11 celebration in September in New York City when she stumbled and was thrown into the van unconscious or at least unable to manage on her own and driven to Chelsea's apartment from where she emerged moments later having fully recovered from her heat stroke.  Hillary even hugged a small girl when she emerged fit as a fiddle from Chelsea's building sans Secret Service or her protection brigade and handler even though she was reported to have a serious lung infection that laid poor put upon Hillary low so she could fabricate a new story about having to run hunched over to safety in Chechnya or possibly some YouTube angered Muslims upset about a cartoon making fun of the prophet Mohammed that ended in 4 dead Americans while she ran guns to the Islamic State fighters or some other spontaneously triggered Muslim rebels in Benghazi or possibly New Jersey.

Power corrupts and, like welfare recipients, the more the power (or food stamps) the more corrupt and corruptible the powerful become.

It seems like Hillary and Sister Cathy Cesnik have nothing in common outside of powerful individuals reaping the benefits of their hard won corruption, but think again. The power that protected Father Joseph Maskell from justice is the same powerful height from which a pope fell to be replaced by a new pope who urges the world to erase the boundaries and embrace the New World Order of togetherness and friendship like the European Union which is crumbling before our very eyes. Britain was the first to flee the EU, but is being rapidly followed by other nations either marginalized by EU policies or strangling under the weight of Syrian refugees, many of whom have come from Africa in the wake of Qaddafy's death, to flood the social welfare that once was a shining light beckoning all in Muslim countries fleeing before the Islamic State's fighters or the devastation of climate change, according to Obama, for the wealth and generosity of Chancellor Angela Merkel's open arms in Germany. Meanwhile, France narrowly escaped being corraled with US President Trump and his refusal to bow to Muslim sheikhs or cover Melania with a hijab in deference to fragile Muslim sensibilities, thus hopefully avoiding the need to apologize for poor Muslim men faced with beauty in a woman who is not advertising her willingness to be bombed or mounted by Muslim men starved of beauty openly and brazenly shared.

I do wonder if Father Maskell was also dazzled by the beauty and wantonness of girls barely pubescent and uncovered with their Catholic school uniforms not buttoned up to the neck and with their bobby sox not completely covering the lower calf. It seems, from testimony, that Father Maskell exercised his power over male and female pre-pubescent and pubescent children equally, more of a 'leave no child behind' attitude while exercising his abuses.

Power corrupts without equal even among Muslims. The Muslim belief is that women are for breeding and men are for pleasure in spite of their anti-homosexual attitudes. Smacks of have fun, but don't get too comfortable -- or familiar -- while having your fun with men when there are so many women around to take advantage of. Women are hidden and not given voices to complain. Then again, who knows what is underneath the head-to-toe covering of a veiled and carefully hidden form? Dress in an old-fashioned nun's habit and even a man sporting a full black mustache can appear to casual glances as a woman.

There is no lack of powerful men and women all too willing to abuse the innocent when there is no one to complain except the sheep. When the wolf is listening a sheep bleating, or a hundred sheep bleating, makes no difference. The wolf wins. Father Maskell was a wolf and so is Hillary Clinton. Anyone else is just another sheep bleating into the wind and the sheep bleating after another Muslim attack that turned children into body parts and blood after a concert in Manchester is more loud bleating in a herd of sheep no one is really listening to except for the usual virtue signaling and publicly praying for the fallen.  Don't worry. Lamb will be served following a concert near you soon.

That is all. Disperse.