Sleep Deprivation

Our granddaughter, Jahniya, recently told us she is having trouble sleeping. Her mind races and she feels tired, but can’t sleep, so she listens to music or podcasts. I told her that she probably shouldn’t listen to anything before sleep as that could be keeping her awake. We talked about breathing deeply, running energy, and meditating as ways to relax and fall to sleep.  After we spoke, I remembered the power of “yes, do” over “no, don’t”, and decided to create a soundscape for Jahniya to listen to before sleep.

I am familiar with some of the popular music that she likes, so I listened to a few songs and zeroed in on a Bb major scale as the tonal color for her dreamscape. Using the piano keyboard as a template, the Bb major scale uses all of the black keys and the B and F. The tonality of the song she likes is in the piece, but it is cropped and stretched and layered with no words except “Good Night, Jahniya. We love you” spoken by Gigi at the very end. I hummed softly over one short section near the end of the scape.

Several weeks later and the soundscape is recorded. I had to experiment with the voicings to get the blend and definition I wanted. Then once recorded, I shape the dynamics, movement and placement of melodic statements through automation in Ableton Live. Since Jahniya will listen to this through earbuds, I mixed primarily through headphones, although I did listen through the QSC for perspective. Trudie listened to it and gave me some feedback, which I used to make the final soundscape mix in Audacity.

I ended up cutting the sound file in two parts and moving the end to the beginning. There is a part of the scape that is more energized and excited, as our brains are when we are teens (and hopefully beyond). That part happened closer to the end. I wanted to meet the brain where it is at and then accompany it to calm and sleep. Moving that section to the beginning made more sense.

The soundscape comes with instructions:

Listen to this soundscape as you fall asleep or anytime you want to relax. Listen to the scape as if it were a painting rather than a song. Notice the harmonic layering of the voices. Feel how it envelopes you like an ocean of sound. Notice how the voices move in and out and around in what seems to be your head. Let the swells reverberate through you bringing calm and peace. Let the soundscape gentle you to sleep.

With love, Juju and Gigi

Follow-up:

Jahniya was able to improve her sleep and successfully finish her first year of high school. Plus she used her experience to create a school project about sleep deprivation among teenagers with suggested solutions!

She is the future!

Messages from the WoW

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The latest signs from the Wave of Wonder (the WoW) are pointing me toward hangups. Attending to my hangup of the moment is easily avoided – except for those little reminders: the tug as my shirt gets caught on a knob, my jacket snagged in the closed car door, jerked back by the garden hose wrapped round a tree root.  Everytime I get one of these reminders from the WoW, I stop and ask myself : “What am I resisting?”

Often I am resisting THE MOMENT. I engage in distracted thinking about someone I love who is ignoring me or some activity I would rather be doing than the one at hand. I engage in stories of disapproval from others, resentment over perceived slights,  and general feelings of not mattering and not being important.

When I entertain these thoughts – and their good buddy, painful feelings – I am lured out of this moment of being by my mind and my story. The actual physical manifestation of the hangup jerks me back into the moment. 

I appreciate the very pointed choreography, and will continue to ride my awareness toward presence in the Now.

Thanks, WoW!

Carried Wisdom

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I have a friend whom I have not seen in many decades. We now communicate on Facebook. We shared a connection in high school, then I moved away sophomore year. I am not good at maintaining long distance relationships – being a right here, right now kinda girl! The present moment is very full, but I want to expand my awareness to include those I love who are not in my immediate proximity.

My friend had a difficult and painful 2016. She surrendered much, participated in great healing and is moving through the experience with much love and gratitude. She is in my thoughts alot these days. We have shared jokes and love memes on Facebook. She has listened to some of my soundscapes and is open to the vibrations. I wanted to create a soundscape for her journey.

I have not heard from her in a while and I am sending waves of loving vibrations her way via the soundscape entitled Carried Wisdom.

Some Thoughts on Grief (on Paul’s 52nd Birthday)

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Today February 25th, is my brother Paul’s 52nd birthday. While he did not live to see and celebrate it, he has people who are still here remembering him. His laughter, his sense of irony, his insecurity, his wit, his breadth of knowledge, his creativity, his emotional turmoil, his love, his righteousness and doubt all are imprinted on this moment. Contemporary quantum physics points consistently toward the truth that each individual conciousness has an impact on the world. If energetic matter can neither be created or destroyed, then this impact goes on forever. Even as I know this, I also know that when a beloved being leaves their physical form, a great deep grief rises up and takes hold in the world.

One of my life’s intentions is to be light, loving joy in the world. Much of the time this is easy for me as I am buoyed by the spirit that brought me here and always guides me. My life is simple with manageable stress and I have gifts to share and a cadre of friends to share them with. Then when an event outside my well-cultivated illusion of control happens, I resist , I wail and holler, saying to myself, “I don’t want to feel this way, I don’t want to feel this way, I don’t want to feel this way.” This is where I was for periods during the last year and a half as I allowed the reality of Paul’s death to bring waves of sadness, anger and anxiety to the forefront of my lived experience.

I know that resistance is a root cause of disease, so a less familiar path needed to be taken. Not numbing myself till it goes away, not holding it in, not crying in the bathroom and then putting on a good face in front of others- instead I did things that felt more vulnerable to me. I asked for help, shared my feelings in the moment and kept an eye out for any sense of victimhood and blaming of myself or others. I used all the tools in my pack – EFT, meditation, deep breathing, supportive nutrition and hydration, exercise – to stay grounded and present.

I am sad that Paul did not let me know what was truly going on in his life. Angry that he left out a huge piece of the puzzle of what happened between himself and his wife, his children and his wife’s family, and our family. Why did he have to work so hard to save face, put on a front, be so unaware of what he was doing and how it was impacting his life? I study pictures from his childhood looking for signs of angst, unhappiness, fear. He just looks happy, loving and excited by life.

He was the youngest child. As the oldest, it is hard to imagine what it is like to have, not only parents, but multiple older siblings telling you what is right and what is wrong from all our unique perspectives. All I can do is accept what has happened and honor him, his life, and his choices. From a place of unconditional love, there is no shame about the path he chose. He is a role model of surrender. He let himself go, he got himself out of a difficult situation the best way he knew how. There was a fearlessness in his giving over to his path. When I think of him with love and respect, I can only say, “well done, my brother!” I see you in your next life succeeding with love and assurance. I see you bobbing over the crest of a wave, laughing with joy.  The lessons you taught while you were here have not yet been fully realized. I feel heartened to know that the real gift of your life is yet to be received.

So while I have entertained grief in my home for a time I am clear that this is just a visit. And, as in past visits, it will come to a natural end. My home is filled with joy, love, and creative energy. While anxiety, fear, sadness and grief do build up in the nooks and crannies at times, a good cry, a loving talk, a breathing meditation, a smoke or tea of kind herbs, EFT, a belly laugh can cleanse those energies from my home. I feel a tremendous responsibility to give loving attention to this work – the work of cultivating creative joy in the world.

I do keep a picture of grief around, just as a friendly reminder of a pain that comes and goes and comes again, but for now- its time in my presence is up!

Joy to the World

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The year 2015 coming to an end has me thinking about time. Not time as a mechanistic ticking off of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years, but time in a larger sense as moments and experiences that we organize into the “story of my life.” Every thought, feeling, action and reaction we bring into the corporeal world imprints on the matrix of being. And we weave all of this together into a fabrication of who we are, both individually and collectively. How is your story going? What is it about?

I wish all my friends wrote blogs so I could read their stories. Some friends do send year-in-review letters this time of year. I enjoy reading those immensely. I have the good fortune to be surrounded by interesting people who are passionate about love, food, creativity, and holding a high vibration. We are the light tenders, the love snipers; we do what we can where we are to energize the highest vibe possible. We love and respect the individual paths we are each on, and we shine light for each other along the way.

At the Interfaith Celebration this week, Rachel Wooten reminded us that to love is to be present with, to focus our loving awareness on another. In order to do this, we must first be present and aware of self. Loving one’s self is the foundation for loving everything outside of self. Acts of self-care and self-love are some of the most powerful healing actions you can take in the world. Our spiritual traditions, educational system, social/familial beliefs discourage loving of self in favor of service to others. Loving actions and service to self/to others are both sacraments of the compassionate heart. It is the good in people that calls us to give and to help others. But, you cannot pour from an empty cup, so our first responsibility is to take very good care of self.

There is a general feeling that the world is a scary and dangerous place right now. Even a cursory read of world history confirms that this has always been the case! Gertrude Stein said, “Everything is so dangerous that nothing is really very frightening.” – a wonderful example of a koan whose meaning shimmers just out of reach. FDR said “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Ghandi said, “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate, but it is fear.” “Fear not” and “Do not be afraid” reoccur throughout The Bible. All of these teachings point to a path away from fear. The scary and dangerous world (which we cocreate together) is shifting.

At dinner the other night, our soon-to-be teen granddaughter Erin, said, “well, I am afraid ISIS is going to come and kill us all.” Ah, yes, I remember the bomb shelters and the threat of nuclear devastation I came of age within. My mother came of age during the depression and World War II. Are we recognizing a pattern here? I love the state of the world at this moment because all of these patterns are coming to light. Patterns of belief that no longer serve and are no longer supported by the new energies flooding into our realm. The new energy fields of the planet do not support the political yammering and the media frenzy creating the “world about to end” story. All the patterns of control, cruelty and subterfuge are coming out into the light.As we learn to turn our attention within, and then without, we are creating a vibration of integrity, generosity, love, and acceptance of the incredible diversity this world engenders. We have the opportunity to use our most valuable currency – our moment to moment attention – to help the world evolve into a place of greater compassion and less violence.

How do we accomplish this shift? First, stop watching the news. Take in just enough mediated info to have some perspective. If you are watching hours of news, your currency is being used against you. After turning off all the media, sit in silence and stillness. Give full attention to your breath. Take three deep breaths into the heart. Ask for guidance from within. Just ask! And then pay attention throughout the day for signs from your guides. They love you dearly and will help you to live from your heart.

The next thing is the hardest to explain and of signifigant import – we must give up our “victim thinking”. Where else is there to go for one who has been victimized? Throughout time, people have been and are being vicitimized in some way by others. As a victim,  I feel the need for justice, reparations, and retribution. I feel the need to stay vigilant against further victimization. This gives my victimhood identity and value.  So some of my attention is taken by my need to keep my identity as victim alive in the world. Maintaining victimhood undermines personal power and free will choice. Once one is free from the victimizing situation, drop the need for vengeance, for rehash, for continuing to victimize yourself. Let it be finished.

Actually, “victim thinking” is part of a trio of roles we actively engage in that must ALL be given up. The idea here is from the teachings of Eric Berne and Transactional Analysis, which came into my life in my twenties. (Thank you, Dan Vice!) The Karpmann Drama Triangle has helped me be kinder and more present in all my relations. In our interactions we often play the role of either the victim, the rescuer or the persecutor, or a combination of these roles.  Recognizing when I am playing in the triangle, deconstructing where my attention is focused, and shifting my attention away from the drama in my mind and into the present moment, into this particular situation, with these people. When I look at my life so far, I see that I chose to play the victim or the rescuer most of the time. I so indentified with victim or rescuer that I could not even recognize when I was the persecutor.

I am starting a practice of questioning my own righteous indignation in all its guises. It is an anger discharge mechanism that brings about injury to myself and others. Anything that gets me riled up, or annoys me, I look for ways that I AM the thing that annoys me. I caught myself bullying Trudie the other day about something trivial (she forgave me!) This interaction haunted me for several days as I replayed my superior tone, accusatory language, and tightly-held body. I felt fiercly justified in my reaction. In this case, I was victimizing Trudie with my righteous indignation about something she may or may not have done. Giving  up these roles, means waking up to all the ways we create our own misery, lack, need, contempt, anger, rage, depression, fear by interpreting our experiences through filters of drama and pain.

Pay close attention to how your thoughts and beliefs shape your reality. Stay in the flow as much as possible. Say yes more than no. Always say no when you want to. Challenge your thoughts whenever they create pain in your gut, in your heart or in your head, in your life! We are taking an evolutionary step that involves a shift from “survival of the fittest” to “survival of the kindest.” Our brains are evolving so rapidly that medical and behaviorial sciences are struggling to keep up. Breathe deep, allow your conciousness to expand a little bit more with each breath, learn to listen to the guiding voice in your head that comes from your heart. Whatever may be happening feel the joy and love that carry us through each moment.

And, if you can’t feel it just now, trust it is there. That is faith, and it is a relief!

Where is Love? – Healing the Third Chakra

The idea of, the sense of, the smell, taste and feel of…love has pre-occupied me from birth. Seriously! I came into being with an up- tight third chakra, a vunerability point for my clan. Grandfather Barnes comforted me through colic-y nights saying, “There, there, I understand.” for he too had a heaviness/tightness in the third chakra. I was eight when he died, but I remember something about pain, clots and his death coming from this part of the body. I see him in Child’s Pose in bed, doubled over this pain in his mid-section.

This chakra is called the Solar Plexus chakra, and is located in the gut. This is the chakra of will and manifestation, and it is deeply affected by shame, guilt and self-consciousness. My experience with the third chakra is as the home for grief, dread, anxiety, and feelings of deep unworthiness and shame. Who does not remember that beautiful song “Where is Love?” from the musical Oliver. Simply singing that first line can create a cavernous hole in that third chakra. It is the chakra of longing for love. At the same time, it is the home to joy, excitement, exuberance and feelings of community and connection – love in action. The difference is that the first set of feelings sinks down into the stomach, becoming a ball-like black hole that sucks everything down into it. It hurts! The other set of feelings releases, relaxes, rises up creating openness, spaciousness, and the feeling of relief. Also notice that in the first instance, there is longing for love. In the second, love just is. Important distinctions to pay attention to.

There is a symbiotic, energetic relationship between the solar plexus and the heart chakra. The heart emanates the loving vibration that the solar plexus delivers into the world. And if that third chakra gives/receives the love through filters of self-conciousness, defensiveness, need or over-sensitivity, then loving action can be inhibited or overblown or twisted in some way. Thus we see so many people acting in ways that do not seem loving, that often seem to be the opposite of love. And while the heart does not need to ask, the solar plexus does! And what exactly are the questions the solar plexus should ask?

One very important question to ask anytime you experience a powerful reaction in your gut – Is this true? Can I absolutely know what I am feeling/thinking is true? This usually pulls the rug out from under any shame, guilt, feeling of unworthiness. (These questions are effective because there is no absolute truth, we are all making it up as we go. The best bumpersticker advice I ever got was “Don’t Believe Everything You Think”.) This is the first step in waking up from the stories we tell ourselves. Those two questions (and more) are part of The Work of Byron Katie, a psycho-spiritual process that really helps ro reduce suffering and increase joy. The more I ask these questions, the more the world opens up. It gets bigger rather than smaller, and if there is one thing contemporary science has taught us it is that there is A LOT of S P A C E everywhere. When your thoughts are on your side, you build trust with and feel more comfortable in that spaciousness.

Another technique I have used to strengthen the third chakra is Emotional Freedom Technique. You often see it referred to as “the tapping solution”. I like this technique because the emotion is expressed and released in the moment of feeling it. This is very powerful and can be used with both deeply seated emotions and ones that move through quickly. There is a series of accupressure points on the head and torso that are tapped as you speak the emotion, giving it nuance and emphasis, describing it in detail. As I tap and talk, the emotion shifts – it is important to articulate those shifts as well. I am using EFT on several long term stories I tell myself that are NOT true. It has effect on any discomfort or disease.

Crying is a great relief to the heart and solar plexus chakras. Everybody has a different relationship to tears. They often overwhelm me, choke me up, and, in the past, racked me with sobs. I remember my Mother telling me she wished she could cry- this during the time when my Father’s memory was going and her Mother’s home had burned, and she was trying to get her settled in a new living situation. Why couldn’t she cry? I don’t know. She seemed to fear being out of control. There was a lot she wouldn’t talk about. I don’t know and I wish I did. What I do know is that tears well up from a heavy, cramped feeling in the center of my chest. While I have swallowed them at times, I now let them come as they will. EFT with the tears helps them move. A wise friend once told me that you can gauge your healing from old pains by noticing how quickly the tears work their way out. I have one root pain that I once cried for 24 straight hours over; and, now, all I get is two eyefuls of tears, and its gone. So if you can cry, do so. If not, don’t sweat it. Deep breathing into the chakra can be just as effective.

Meditation provides time for centering self and has a positive impact on the third chakra. Taking time each day to follow the breath in and out, in and out, until there is no more in and out. If only for a moment, to feel the tremendous expansive space inside. This space is bigger even then the cosmic heavens we can see so deeply into now. After many days and months of meditating (and not meditating), you realize that this state that you formally visit each day through your breath is actually with you all the time. We tend to get so caught up in our stories that we lose our sense of this constant companion who comes in with us, walks with us through our entire lived experience (no one else can do this) and pulls us over when it is time to leave. This realization, this knowing and hearing the guidance within, is the Balm in Gilead for the wounded third chakra.

This companion, who we let in when we are still and quiet, is the ultimate healer for depression, anxiety, worry and fear, and always comes to us on the breath. Notice how, when you are all bound up in worry and fear, a deep breath or three will cut through those bonds and make space. All the things that I fret, plan, defend, try to figure out and hope for, I turn over to that larger part of me that brought me here and is guiding me. That is where faith comes in, in that moment of turning over, of letting go. Then the most amazing thing happens – you feel lighter, more energized, and you expend that energy on appreciating something in this moment, which gives energy back to you, and the cycle of life is renewed. And that simple cycle of presence, attention and appreciation is the movement of love incarnate. Which is why you were brought here in the first place.

The companion has a very distinct voice. The voice is sure and reassuring; it is, after all, the voice of love. Any voices that create feelings of hate, fear, worry, dread, suspicion, anxiety are the ones that need to be questioned first. When those voices quiet down, the voice of love and joy that brought you here will speak loud and clear.

God is love! All the rest is human contrivance.

Addendum: And some human contrivance is useful. Here is a link to some yogic approaches to healing the third chakra. I don’t find all of these useful at the moment; they are good to know. We need a variety of maleable tools for discerning how things are with us and how they are changing. We are never done. What a relief!

http://www.chopra.com/ccl/find-power-and-warrior-energy-in-your-third-chakra?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=CCL%20Newsletter%20150225&utm_campaign=February