Category Archives: Dispatches from Inner Space

Exploring the intersection between imagination and everyday life, the inner space that alerts us to find our own power…

What Receives Your Attention?


Chester Zoo by Nigel Swales

Where we put our attention determines the quality of our life. What occupies your thoughts most of the time? Do you know where you are going with these thoughts? Or are you looking in all directions for some sign of what’s going on?

We live in a world changed by the discoveries of quantum physics, that is, by the realization that our consciousness exists before anything else can come into being. Indeed, it is our consciousness that drives our actions to manifest material reality.

Three forms of consciousness exist: There is our everyday alert thinking process, there is our subconscious mind, and there is the deep, ineffable consciousness that is God–All That Is embedded in and directing the vast, mysterious,  extraordinary universe of which we are a part, and beyond.

We give attention to each form in very different ways.

You know your everyday thoughts, the ones that pull and push at you. You know how to focus on a task at hand, or how to multi-task if you need to. You know what you spend too much time doing, whether that is using electronic devices or procrastinating or dwelling on negative thoughts. You also know the times when you experience love and joy and beauty all around you and give your attention there. But have you noticed that you have chosen–always–whatever thoughts and feelings you have?

Thus, you choose your everyday conscious state of mind, every time, every moment. You also choose to keep it for a long or brief period, according to what motivates you practically, emotionally, and mentally to move forward or to stay where you are day to day.

The subconscious mind is different. Cognitive neuroscientists have demonstrated that the subconscious mind controls 95% of our thoughts–meaning we are unaware of 95% of what is going on in us, in our minds, driving our behavior. A familiar way to describe and explain this is to ask yourself why you are doing or thinking something, anything at all. There is a quick surface answer that comes to mind, yes, but is it the whole story?

Not by a long shot. Try this exercise–write down a thought you have and why you have it. Ask (and write down) why you answered the way you did. Now ask why you answered the way you did the second time and repeat the process, writing down why you answered the way you did each time. When you have no more answers, you are probably very close to knowing the true reason you had the thought in the first place–you have gone into your subconscious to find out, and in the process of doing that, you are able to see beneath the everyday camouflage to the truth. This can often cause a shift in you that changes some aspect of your life in a positive way. Here is a short example of what I mean:

Thought: I am not good enough.
Why? I have not succeeded as I had hoped.
Why? Others were chosen over me at work.
Why? My boss doesn’t like me.
Why? I don’t always do what he wants.
Why? I hate my job.
Why? It isn’t what I wanted to do.
Why? I needed money so I took it, but I wanted to be a singer.
Why? Because that is where my heart is.
Why? Because that is who I really am.

The third state of consciousness is the ineffable awareness and union with God. In this state, everything is answered. It is reached sometimes in meditation, or during peak moments in life, epiphanies, wherein for a split second, or sometimes longer, we sense the absolute power of God, aware we are not separate from the Love that is God. Sometimes, if and when we are willing, we know this state. Most often it happens in Nature, or in hearing an exquisite passage from a piece of music, or watching the joyful play of a child. We know when it happens, for it feels for a moment in our heart as if we have come home.

So I would ask again–what receives your attention?

Our Dazzling Mistakes


Our Dazzling Mistakes

What is it we are meant to do in life–our mission, our destiny? How often we ask ourselves this question. It seems a reasonable curiosity. Yet an undercurrent lies beneath our asking, for most often we seek the answer from a specific  premise we hold, consciously or unconsciously — that whatever our purpose is, we must know it exactly, it must be perfect, and we must do it perfectly, or we have somehow failed.  We seek to be like the perfect circle in the image above, not like the variations that surround it.

Nothing is further from the truth. It is because of our dazzling mistakes along the way that our journey of life is fulfilled in heart, mind, body, and soul.

If we are fighting for physical survival moment by moment we are not likely to spend time on such thoughts at all. But if we have food and shelter and security, we are free, if we choose, to look beyond our experience and consider (or face) the questions:

“Who am I?”   “What am I here for?”

These are soul questions and meant to be answered amidst and even because of our human frailties, against the backdrop of our uncertainty. They are questions deriving from the heart, a yearning we have to align with our inherent divinity, our absolute coexistence with God.

Yet we feel, because we are not perfect (by our human standard), the greatest sense of loss and despair.

Imagine if instead we lived each day, each hour — every moment — in awareness of that divinity, trusting we are not only meant to be here, but that the world is better for our presence, no matter what our apparent “flaws” (variations) — that we are not a random or accidental occurrence, but an essential manifestation of LOVE by the universe.

What would happen then? What then would you do, and become?

On Allowing Discernment


Our inclination to seek approval is a human one, wired into us. Fair enough, for we are by nature a gregarious tribe, a species that welcomes camaraderie and communication, which in turn offer the spirit of trust and friendship. What we may ignore or forget in our day-to-day experience is that we have a responsibility, a personal responsibility, to use discernment in how we relate to others, who we choose as close friends, and who we offer trust and friendship to in return.

Reacting to other people is oftentimes a reflex action, but with discernment — which is the faculty of using keen perception and assessment of things — that reflex slows down. We grow more aware of what we are doing and what our intention is. We become more aware of the people we are talking with, like talking with, or struggle to reach.

We know ourselves better by how we react to others.

Of course we are not going to enjoy the company of everyone we meet — that would be impossible. But we can observe whether our reaction to them is something worrying — a trigger that causes us to act with inner anger or resentment or judgment — or something with positive energy and even joy. By being willing to observe ourselves and our motivations, we stay open to what is really going on around us and in us. We can then discern what has value and what does not and which direction to take next, figuratively or practically.

It is critical to our health and well-being to know our own state of mind, to observe it, and to alter it if we are creating something negative. Very often our reaction to people has nothing to do with them and everything to do with our inner self.

Think of events that have occurred for you over the last week — how you felt, what you did, what others did. Is there any event you feel you could have managed more easily if you had not held or expressed a reflex reaction?

In difficult times, we can be inclined to let go of our own trust in what is true and our power to create favorable outcomes. That is when stress, anxiety, anguish, and heart pain  begin to enter in and affect us, drawn out of past or present emotional states.

Using discernment helps us retrieve those aspects we have given away by forgetting we have choices, and allows our best self to emerge and be sustained. It allows us to remember we can trust who we are.

Memory or Presence–Which One Do You Want Most?


Our human selves — the selves we think we know, that is — are created in part through memory — what we remember and how we remember — and the key to memory lies in the feelings we attach to it, over and over. But there is also another way that happens when we let go of memories and negative feelings and live instead in the present moment, when we therefore invite Presence into our life. The significant thing about this is that there are no memories when we exist in the NOW.

Do we therefore cease to exist? No. We are a composite of all we have experienced from the first second of life and all the feelings we have created or enlisted to manage that life. So it is not that we forget anything that we have experienced — but in the NOW, there is no negative charge because there are no memories bringing their age-old sadness or regret or resentment or judgment or anything else that seems to define and trouble us.

That is why being in the present moment is so creative — there are no barriers, fixations, unhappiness — we feel one thing only — freedom in who we really are. No disguises, and no requirements, just our communion with the moment and whatever is occurring in that moment — the wind through the leaves on a tree, the sound of waves on a shore, the dog barking one street over, each sound and sight that is ongoing around us.

In this state of being there is nothing of the past, nothing of the future. We simply are who we are, and for as long as we can stay in that place, we experience a lightness of being we have never known before. The more we do it, the more often it appears, and gradually, that feeling of freedom comes upon us without effort.

We are here to realize this life is joy because it IS. WE are the joy. No need to prove it, defend it, seek it out. It is already present within us.

Let go of thought. Focus on your breathing, or put your hand on your heart. It stops the mind chatter. Listen and watch what is going on around you. Try this for just 30 seconds. Even 30 seconds is transforming. It invites us to experience life in the NOW even more.

Some say if we do this, then we do nothing at all — our lives stop. No. Sages have always described what happens next. Since we are allowing life to be a part of us as we are, not as we wish to be, we enter into cooperation with life, not resistance to it. This is what changes everything. Out of this comes a creativity and abundance that is free at last to show itself to us, and manifest what is uniquely ours to know and do and receive and give, in joy.

We are already One with the universe. Becoming present–inviting Presence–is how we know this is true.

Why Do We Sabotage Ourselves?


Self Sabotage

Have you had the experience where something good happened and you feel you sabotaged the outcome by going in a different direction, taking action that didn’t seem to serve you at all? Have you wondered why?

It can be fear, yes — whether fear of success, or fear of failure, or fear you are not good enough, or that you are not worthy of good things. All that can apply, because those things beset most of us at one time or another. But maybe, just maybe, that is not always the whole story.

On the one hand, of course, it is like shooting ourselves in the foot — we end up losing a great opportunity, or a chance to live a dream, or to meet someone we admire, or achieve a goal desired.

On the other hand, sometimes, it could signal the seeds of a new awareness, our inner voice giving us insight into some greater knowledge — that whatever we are being offered is not what we need at that time, or truly want, or because in the end in our heart and spirit we know the direction, opportunity, or meeting presented to us is not part of the true destiny we are meant to create on earth in this incarnation. Over time, this voice can become stronger, if nurtured.

Being Conscious–or Unconscious

Life is all about choices — making them, rejecting them, being afraid of them. It all depends on how conscious we are of what we are doing. Do we react most of the time when things happen? Do we blame fate or fortune or other people or our parents or those who betrayed us or the unfairness of life for whatever outcome has occurred ? This is being unconscious.

What if, instead, we let ourselves step back and look at the larger picture? What if we chose awareness and took responsibility for what we see, knowing how we choose to act in any given situation will determine the outcome for us, more than anything else? Awareness is being conscious.

How Do We Become Aware?

This is a process that never stops — for we are on this earth to learn the truth and that is why it is such an extraordinary, unique, and blessed experience, no matter what happens.

But there are signs we can trust that we are becoming more aware, ensuring our choices are not self-sabotage after all, but an emerging wisdom.

These signs come from our subconscious mind deep within and are unmistakable, such as:

  • You want to know more about who you are.
  • You feel a restlessness, an energy rising that questions what is going on.
  • You sense a willingness to consider forgiving someone or something in your life.
  • You understand the meaning of the words “I’d rather be free than right.”
  • You find being in Nature often is more than a respite — it is a necessity for your spirit.
  • You sense a greater connectedness to a feeling of Oneness.

And the process, the learning, only expands. Life for you is no longer about being safe and more about being authentic to your true being.

That is when sabotaging your dreams becomes impossible. The rising inner voice is louder, and you listen more closely, and more often.

You begin to live the conscious life.

You allow yourself to become aware.

Using Self-Doubt to Your Advantage


How can self-doubt be an advantage in our existence? Obviously it can be paralyzing, for we are afraid what we are doing is not the best or good or enough. We seem to fret about this often. We would readily say the last thing exploring the emotion of self-doubt brings us is happiness, right?

Maybe, but then again, maybe not. For it can also be a light in the mysterious and sometimes stormy path our life takes.

It is more than possible that self-doubt is there as something to explore intentionally, because everyone experiences it — like some code we have been given at birth to figure out. And it spurs us onward or stops us in our tracks. Our free will decides which way.

The most successful people in the world have self-doubt. Why? That is the point — and perhaps the advantage — the bridge into full wholeness of self. We are meant to take this winding journey of uncertainty because through it we learn to trust ourselves, to know our strength and purpose of will, to realize when something matters to us, and to keep doing what we are doing no matter what tries to stop us, including that inner, doubtful voice — the one that comes from ego, the one we use to compare ourselves with someone else, anyone else, except our own true voice.

You may have doubted yourself, but have you noticed that more often than not you have prospered in spite of that? It is called life, and it is shaped according to your desires, dreams, and courage. You are the arbiter, no one else.

Would you know what courage is if you had never been afraid? Would you be able to gather strength against the odds if you had never experienced failure and seen how you could rise from it like the phoenix?

Every time you go through self-doubt and push through to the other side, you are more than you were before. That is a good thing. Trust in who you are and who you are becoming.

Billy the Kid Versus “Billy the Kid”–the Power of Legend


Billy the Kid--Public Domain--Ben Wittig

One of the most iconic figures that came out of stories of the Wild West was Billy the Kid, also known as William H. Bonney, a gunfighter who entered American folklore and inspired more than one tall tale. His life as a “desperado” has been described in books, film, music, and on stage. A television series ran two years in the early 1960s, depicting Billy as a pretty nice guy–a fabrication that appealed widely to audiences. In every depiction, he is followed by Sheriff Pat Garrett, the man who eventually shot and killed him in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Billy was 21 years old.

Billy the Kid murdered eight people, lived for a time as a cattle rustler, and when he was first captured by Garrett managed to release himself from handcuffs and shackles, kill two deputies, and escape–some said singing on his horse on his way out. His crimes were written up by the New York Sun. His reputation was enhanced further when a bounty of $500.00 was put on his head. In today’s money, that is equivalent to $11,000.00.

Copland’s “Billy the Kid”

When Aaron Copland wrote his “Billy the Kid: Ballet Suite” in 1938, he saw it as “perception of the pioneer West, in which a figure such as Billy played a vivid role.” It is a marvelous piece, filled with folk tunes and cowboy songs woven into it, and hailed as the beginning of the unique “American sound” in classical music. The music romanticizes Billy, and only much later did Copland observe that had he known the real criminal mindset of Billy the Kid, he might not have written the music at all. But it is a grand piece, and we would be bereft without it. It is an old argument–is something of less value because of the premise that inspired it? Or does creativity require  a different dimension of judgment?

Why the Myth of the Cowboy”?

What is a more salient observation, though, is the question of why Americans have absorbed the myth of the gunfighter so absolutely. The degree has varied, but it is a myth that has never been forsaken.

Many years ago I worked on a grant for the National Endowment for the Arts about the last of the cowboys. In the course of it I went with others to Missouri and saw Jesse James’ homestead, a farmhouse that lay in the distance across an open field. I’d grown up watching westerns–it was a thrill to see that legendary place. But that is the power of myth–of believing something that was always in the distance, that sparked the imagination, and brought with a feeling of adventure and action and glamour. For that is exactly what the legends of the cowboys did–brought us into a world that didn’t exist, but we half wished did–a world where we never experienced the same routine, never stayed in one place, always had a new horizon ahead of us. That is the power of myth–that we can be more than we think we are.

But the Truth of It…

The truth of it is we have extolled, valued, remembered, and absorbed legends that belong to killers and thieves, a violent set of characters who lived larger than life, yes, but with the intent to do harm, whenever they had the chance. These were not nice people. For whatever reasons, they were damaged in some way, perhaps even by the relentless westward expansion of America that took no prisoners. We have as our heroes people who would as soon do us in as say hello.

Yet the power of the legends does not fade, even now. Our society is a mirror to the Old West, though we are far ahead of it in time. We visualize violence as a virtue–a hero’s path. Look at 80% of the films and television shows now available. It is a world, in that respect, that has not changed.

The question is–is this the truth we want? Is that why it persists? Or does it signal something else we are unwilling to give up?

Distraction: Are You Addicted To It?


An absolutely wonderful and wise person, James Van Praagh, described in one of his books what he felt held him back the most whenever he let it:  DISTRACTION! He put a large piece of paper on his refrigerator with that one word on it, to remind himself not to yield to the seductive power of getting distracted from his purpose or in his life. He wasn’t suggesting we must be focused all the time. But he was observing that we must be wiling to allow quiet time, reflective time, and also to use time with some form of intention.

No Quiet Time

What is it we seem to do these days? It isn’t to allow quiet time. Very much the opposite. Pema Chodron described in an interview with Bill Moyers that when she was on a plane journey, the battery of sounds from devices all around her was overwhelming–cell phones, broadcasts, movies, laptops, video games–no one was just sitting and looking out the window, or engaged in thought–the closest they came to quiet time was when they were sleeping. What struck her most was that people seemed afraid to be in their own thoughts, as if there was some real disconnect going on between the inner and outer selves.

Becoming Oblivious

Late in his life Ray Bradbury watched people walking along the street with ear buds, listening to a device, oblivious to the world around them, and not speaking to the person they were with. He shouted out in frustration that he’d written a story about that very happening in 1953 and it was supposed to be science fiction! But the telling point in his story wasn’t that we should not enjoy listening to a recording–perhaps an audiobook, or music, but that we seemed to use our devices unceasingly, constantly, for everything–as if being without the device were impossible. What would he say to the sea of heads walking along the streets now! Heads everywhere bent to their cell phones anxiously seeing what message had come in. Was it important? Did it help them discover some idea? Was it vital to receive, so much so they had to check even while dining or at a movie and grow anxious, get an adrenaline flow, if no messages showed up for awhile? Unless they were emergency personnel or doctors, they had no reason to do this–did they?

So What Is Going On?

Maybe people cannot stand themselves, or are afraid of their own thoughts? Sure, sometimes, we all are. But this level of usage, this passion for checking for messages, is different in degree, in its omnipresent visibility. This kind of distraction, at a subconscious level, comes from a persistent,  almost insatiable desire to escape the reality that is, to control reality as much as possible, to make sure everything that is going on is known, sorted, addressed–with nothing left to chance.

Addiction Tipping Point

It’s possible that soon we will have reached a tipping point, in which our consuming need to be “doing” something has translated into an addiction to stare at our phones–not missing a single message, or a new tweet, or an ad for a movie, or a news flash, or a word from an unknown admirer–anything will do.

It is a global event. Each country has its own version of this, whether it be Twitter, Snapchat, or Whatsapp, and more. It is a global phenomenon that on its good side allow a level of communication unheard of, unimagined, in just a decade. But at what price?

Addictive Effect On Us

It is also a terrible burden, for it slices our life into fragments of experience. And these fragments are forgotten as soon as they arrive–our need is to have them happen, not to remember them. They keep us from ourselves, from our work, and from each other–we have become silos of texting.

Perhaps most of all it is the distraction of our technology that has taken us away from being involved in life in deeper ways.

It has taken us away from  being “present” in our own life.

But the technology is not at fault. It is neutral. It makes no decisions. It has no power. It does not control anything. Unless we say so.

We are the ones who choose to give our own personal power away to it.

We always, always, always have the right to say NO to using the devices, to turning on the phones. We can–sometimes–refuse the distraction of it all. Our decision. Our responsibility. Our choice.

What Does That Mean?

Are we are willing to know who we are and, for a while at least,
enter the quiet time within, uninterrupted?

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Erasing the Debris of Old Energy


CC BY-NC-SA 2.0--Thicket--Haataja

Erasing the debris of old energy frees us. But it is not easy to do. It is like trying to cut through a dense thicket with a pocket knife. We often cannot fathom what a better tool might be, or even how to use it. Yet that debris weighs us down, saps our energy, so that we are not giving 100% of ourselves to life and living.

How can we remove that debris? What often goes unacknowledged is that sometimes we don’t want to–not because we want to stay where we are so much as that we are afraid to move out of the familiar, even if that familiar state is not good for us.

Change–any kind of change–is a step out into the unknown. It isn’t surprising how many of us hesitate to do that. Anything could happen and what control would we have over it, when the shift into something new has no markers for us to follow?

But the heavy word in that sentence is “control.” It is fear that drives us when we think something could be out of our control. We are not accustomed to letting life evolve. We have to make things happen–our way. And there is the difficulty–the thicket we create for ourselves, and the debris we keep adding to it, inside ourselves, to make sure we are safe–all comes from the feeling that whatever happens must be our way or else it does not make sense to us.

Staying aware but allowing each moment to be whatever it is, whatever it is showing us–this is not easy to do. It takes practice.

That practice is to let go–let go of our demand that everything be safe and stay safe, be familiar and stay familiar. Of course, we want some predictability in our life–and we enjoy doing things in familiar ways for study, for community, for entertainment. But that is different than choosing to leave our comfort zone in an action of trust that new worlds of perception might open, or are opening.

Our creativity–at a core level–comes from allowing ourselves to explore other ways of being. We don’t have to follow them, necessarily. But we discover suddenly there is a new energy in us, running through us, that in its natural evolution expands our consciousness.

And in essence, consciousness–all levels of our consciousness–creates the precious uniqueness of who we are.

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Dare To Be Known


dare to be known

If there is one thing that seems to affect most of us, it is a hesitancy to dare to be known, to let who we are “show up” — so that our authentic selves are visible wherever we are. Instead, we try to hide, to disguise, to cover up, to misdirect any attention away from our true inner being. It could even be said we are content to be anonymous.

Now, by all accounts, this appears to be the opposite of our day-to-day experience wherein each person we encounter wants their opinion, thought, idea, or outlook to be front and center. People want to be heard, to be noticed, to have a feeling of being wanted, desirable, important, liked, admired, praised. Each of us at some level feels each of these things.

The difference is that being noticed or praised or important has nothing to do with our authentic self. To dare to be known has nothing to do with any action we take or behavior we lay claim to.

Living an authentic life means we look at who we are in terms of one thing only–that we love who we are. Everything begins there.

What Is Your Inner Chatter About Yourself?

Have you caught yourself thinking negative things about your appearance, thoughts, behavior, outlook, achievements, social skills, intellect, likeability, worthiness? Or do you find most of the time the voice inside your head has good things to say — that you are not only loving but loved, that your presence on earth is unique and for that reason alone invaluable, that you matter as much as anyone else, that your outlook is creative and life-giving?

A good guess is that if you dared to log your inner chatter about yourself for even one hour, the negative to positive comments would have a ratio of 80/20 — or even 90/10. Most of us habitually diminish ourselves by feeling disappointment at our choices in the past, distress over our personality, uncertainty in what we believe, and intense fear other people will find out we are not valuable.

The truth is every person is valuable, no exceptions. What happens is we forget, or ignore, or cannot accept this truth. Why not? The reasons are as varied as the number of people on the planet. No two stories are the same.

Do You Deserve the Good Life?

You don’t have to do anything to deserve the good life. You ARE the good life, and every time you choose to know this — to remember this — you give that feeling to everyone you encounter.

It isn’t rocket science. If in your spirit you feel loved, then you automatically send that love out into the world wherever you go.This doesn’t mean you will like everyone you meet, or find common ground  with them, or experience only positive things. It just means you allow all that because it is life. You deal with what you have to and move on. Without judgment.

You don’t feel loved, you say? If you exist, you are loved, by God, by All That Is, by the Universe–you choose whatever word works for you. Just know it is true. There is no doubt of this. And you are meant to love who you are. Without judgment. Your presence here is no accident.

When we dare to be known as we are, we are saying YES to who we are.

It changes everything.

Try it just once for ten minutes. If you dare. You will be amazed at what happens.

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