Tuesday, December 31, 2013

For you and me...

He loves me, I know. When he gets mad at how someone else attempts to mistreat me, I know it is because he cares. From a spiritual perspective, he understands the way I love–even those who don't treat me well, who look at me with a crooked eye, who speak ill, who don't love me back, who do not like me. Yet from a human being perspective, he gets defensive on my behalf. I understand. I, too, sometimes get sad, confused, annoyed and angry at them as well. And then I come back to the place where I know I am the other and they are me.

So for this turn of the year I am making a conscious effort to want for you and for those I don't like, don't care for and don't love what I want for myself and for those I love. I do want you to be happy, healthy, prosperous and full of joy. I want you to feel complete, at peace, confident and happy. May you see your path, know your purpose and courageously fulfill it. May forgiveness, laughter and love flow abundantly for you and yours. May true friendship, true love, harmony, success, collaboration and camaraderie be your gifts this coming year.

May you recognize the innocence in others and be free of the heavy burden of judgment. And may we meet, over and over, in that place where Love overcomes conflict, misunderstanding and separation. Here's to a fun, light-filled year for you and me...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas present

I meditate daily. Sometimes I meditate more than once in a day. Some days are like that. This is one of those days. It's Christmas Day. I have so much and I am so thankful. Yet I feel a sadness, a nostalgia that I can't understand. I don't know where it is coming from.

My sister, her husband and their twin boys came over. Such joy filled the house. It was now brimming with laughter, leaps and affection. Yet I still felt this sentimentality I couldn't master.

We opened gifts. My sister went all out. She gave me this beautiful notebook. It's an enlightenment journal, she said. It says so on the back. She knows me well.

I got it.

Enlightenment is not something I decide on and get. There is a path to it and this is why enlightenment journals exist. This melancholy I am carrying today is part of the pebbles in my path. I'd like to think of it as one of those soft, rounded stones that fit in the heart of our hands and we hold as if trying to learn a secret from it. My pebble has not revealed any secrets to me today. But I am aware, an effect of my sister's gift, that I am on my way and that I don't have all the answers. My journals help me meditate and reflect. They serve as travel journals. The lessons, awareness and wisdom come as I travel, as I write, as I meditate. Sometimes I understand right away, yet many times I do further along the path.

In the middle of the flying gift-wrapping paper and the joyous squealing of surprised children, I remembered to hold on to nothing, to breathe the moment, to smile, to feel the holiness of the day in the love around me, to enjoy the present moment, to receive all the gifts that make my life abundant, to give the best of me which I can only do in the moment. Today is a good day to be a present to others by being present, by offering our full attention and participating in the moment. Everything else can be dealt with later. Whatever feelings lurk that interfere with enjoying the moment, acknowledge them and let them go. Be present.

©2013 The Soulcerer's Apprentice

Monday, December 23, 2013

Do you hear what I hear?

It's 11:18 at night as I start to write this. A few minutes ago, my twelve-year old son knocked on my door. I heard his door open a few moments before and a rustling. I'm too tired to get up and see what's going on, I stay in bed. Come in, I say. Christmas came early, he whispers. He has a small bundle in his hand...white construction paper wrapped around a small object. Cover your eyes, he considerately says before turning my lamp on. The letters carefully drawn on the construction paper read To Cusy, From Santa. Inside the wrapping paper is a small, white vinyl pouch with a handmade rosary. It is made out of rope. It's beautiful, I light up. It's for your meditation. It's your favorite color. It is indigo. Can I stay and meditate with you? He asks while my mind drifts just a little bit. In the last few days I have paid attention to a few religious turns in conversation...and today my son, who knows I am a mystic, gifts me a rosary. I am listening.

I do not know what Spirit is trying to tell me, what the Universe is hinting to, but I am paying attention. There are no coincidences. This is synchronicity. It kicks in when I listen with an open mind, an open heart and a willing spirit. Quantum shifts happen this way, in the most subtle of forms and it takes a dismissing of disbelief for them to happen. We don't make them happen, we allow them to.

Today is a good day to give your ego a break. See everything with fresh eyes and don't dismiss the synchronicities. Don't try to figure them out or explain them either. That would be interference. This is the time of the year for shifts to happen. Allow them to. Start by paying attention without expectations or judgments. Start by listening. Do you hear what I hear?

Joy to the world

I am overwhelmed. I have a deadline of 9 am this morning to turn in a book I am ghost-writing, I have two appointments in two different government offices to finish business we have finished several times already, I have to go to two banks to run errands, I have to return a few calls, plan what my son and I will do for Christmas and I have to go Christmas shopping...all in a day. Oh boy.

I am sipping my coffee, I am shutting down for a few minutes. The last few weeks have been hectic. I just realized that somewhere in the struggle I forgot that I don't struggle. That when I go with the flow, I accomplish everything. I am not flowing, so I am recharging my spiritual chops that as this day goes by I don't move at the pace of the world, that I remember what falls within my purpose and what I can let go of, that I enjoy everything I do and appreciate everyone I meet today.

One breath in, one breath out and I am centered. Try it with me. One breath in, one breath out. Try it with a little smile. It makes it easier. A few more breaths. Just for a moment. This will be our meditation. Today is a good day to remember that life's annoyances and pressures are on one side of the coin. Whatever it is that is overwhelming us has another side to it. Today I make a conscious effort to remember how much I love my work, how blessed I am, how much I love and am loved back and how excited I am to spend time with family and friends over the next few days. Today is a good day to be cheerful in the face of our responsibilities and to-do lists. Today is a good day to spread some joy...

Friday, December 20, 2013


I have a new car. She's a beauty. When we ride, we float. I love the smooth drive, the sound system, the comfort, the overall feel. There's a lot to get used to. She and I don't know each other very well, yet. My old car and I understood each other. I especially understood her shortcomings and her blind spots. This new car and I have a little acquainting to do. As I was driving in the morning sun, I went to change lanes, but I had not tweaked the mirrors exactly right. I turned my right signal light on and started to move over for I couldn't see a car coming...oh, wait! ...there was a shadow moving fast in my direction. There was a car coming.

It wasn't looking directly at the road, or seeing a reflection in the mirror that told me a car was coming. It was the shadow. Sometimes it is the shadow that foretells that something is looming, that there is an issue within ourselves we need to tend to. Just as one side of the car is lit up by beautiful morning sunlight and the other side of the car is chilled in lightlessness we, too, have an umbra. When we pay attention to the shadow, we can predict what could happen next, and we can prevent being blindsided by our own shadow forces. What are the shadow traits that come up for us? Dishonesty, anger, compulsive behavior, addictive conduct, impulsiveness, reflex reactions, impatience, hostility, guilty feelings, bad habits we had given up, judgment, moodiness and corruption are some of the traits that can tell us that we are afraid of something. Acting out of that fear, we are likely to sabotage ourselves, to harm those we love and to hurt our relationships.

Today is a good day to pay attention to your own shadow. What is it telling you? How can you bring light to it?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December tree

©2013 The Soulcerer's Apprentice
Last weekend I went to what is becoming my new sanctuary. It is a beautiful beach on the other side of the island I live in. It is quiet and full of peace.

I laid on the sand under this beautiful almond tree with a plan to finish a second reading of a book. That was not going to happen. What happened next was the kind of thing that we read about, but hardly experience. The breeze swept by, swirling leaves up off the ground, swaying palm trees into song in the background, cooling the waves...yet the tree remained still. I felt the December air stroke my skin and my hair, but the tree didn't budge. It wasn't rustled by the breathing of the beach.

As if shielding me from my own thoughts, from my own worries, the tree, strong and beautiful, let just enough streams of sun trickle through. I let go of the book. I let go of every thought. I laid there awakening. I felt alive and rested. I felt guided and held. I had no miracle thought. I had no light show experience. I just had a lifting of impediments to this quiet and mighty place within. Nothing changed without. I just had a different awareness.

When I returned to the city, I returned to my pace of life, to the list of pending issues, to my to-do list. This morning my body was feeling the pain of a few days without yoga, without proper rest and without nutritious food. My mind was feeling the pain of not sleeping well and ego fears and pressures. My heart was feeling the pain of disconnection from Spirit, from love, from goodness. I felt pain all over until, during meditation, I saw my December tree and it's warmth washed over me.

My to-do list is still here. Life's issues remain pending. Yet I am back to center where strength and  beauty reign, where stillness recharges my spirit, where silence whispers the truth: the wind blows, but we remain...strong, loved, protected, guided and inspired.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fast...to slow

I am breaking my fast. A little over a week ago I started fasting on my consumption of Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo! updates, online news and most email. I didn't start my fast on purpose. I had one of those moments in which I felt I had had it. Paul Walker died. Then Nelson Mandela... and we wouldn't let them go! The news and messages went from the somber to the ridiculous. The silly part is that as I was reading updates and news bits and thinking how much of what we read is so absurd, an hour went by. An hour of unproductive head-shaking. Typical. I took a fast and went about writing, working, home-making.

The first day of my media-fast was ok. I was resolute, yet that determination waned on the second day. Old habits die hard. But then, late on the third day, I could breathe better. This fast allowed me to slow down. With extra time, I didn't rush as much. If I wanted to connect with a friend, I called. If I wanted to know what was going on, well, I ignored the feeling. Of course we need to know what is going on, but this is a fast and, frankly, much of what we read in the headlines makes no difference in our immediate life. The weather? I checked it on an app on my phone. Events? My week was already planned. I wouldn't have been able to make it to another affair. The photos of what people are eating for lunch? I didn't miss those. Ignoring those cute, red notification bubbles that pop-up on my phone, iPad and computer did not affect me or anyone else adversely.

Today, ten days later, I return to the online world. This ten-day abstinence worked more as a detox than anything else. I am clearer, less mentally-congested by the sensory overload created by the opinions and news bits shared in status updates and tweets. I am not giving up completely. I just needed a jump-start to cut back. I don't need to know everything that is happening in my social network. I am enjoying having conversations, laughing and connecting with those around me, reading books, walking on the beach hand-in-hand. A few minutes ago I read a few postings and had a good laugh. Then I logged out. I feel good.

Today I encourage you to fast from anything that you feel is taking you away from what matters to you.  What is it that you could cut back on? What disconnects you from what you want to do, from those you love? Today is a good day to fast in order to slow down to truly enjoy your life.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

You're grounded!

My son was only kidding, of course, when he started walking out of my room and said "You're grounded!" This meant no tv, no iPad, no iPod, no phone, no friends over. Ha! I instinctively started to pretend-pout, but, instead, I smiled. I'm sure I confused him. I would love to really be grounded, not as a punishment, but as a blessing.

I would really enjoy a decrease of electronic stimulation, to moderate the noise, to cut back on instant information, to have an obligatory reason to detach. I find myself reflexively checking my email at red lights, reading the latest posts when in line at a store, and replying to every notification that pings my phone. I see parents attaching tablets to the headrests of their cars so the kids can watch a movie on their way to school. I also see groups of friends at restaurants all on their electronic-somethings checking Facebook, not enjoying their meals or each other.

Wouldn't it be great if today we could ground ourselves voluntarily? Let's try to breathe without information, to have a chat with the people around us, to read a book while we wait. Let's get bored for a moment and in that moment imagine great things. Let's not add more data to our brains, but release our minds to receive new inspiration. Let's put away our toys to connect to the life around us. Let's ground ourselves to be grounded in the people, the nature, the love, the Spirit around us. To be grounded is to be calm, centered, connected to what matters, conscious, emotionally still, aligned with our soul's purpose, conscious, aware and fully present. Let's be grounded to be grounded.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Seeing red

Just as fear does not protect us from danger, anger does not avenge us, does not right perceived wrongs, does not make others agree with us, does not make others understand us, does not make us understand ourselves, does not justify us and it does not make us right. Anger increases the space between, the ill-will, blurs our minds, impacts our actions harmfully, it makes us unkind and takes over our hearts for in our hearts there cannot be two opposing emotions. Anger, because of its weight and loudness, overpowers.

I am angry. Believe me when I say that I am not beyond anger. I am so angry that I am blind. I feel violent inside–I want to throw this pen across the room. I have a few choice words too...in two languages. I feel like grabbing my car keys and screeching out of here, but I won't. That would be congruent with my old ways of acting. I am so angry that all I can do is pray and meditate. It's what I have learned. It's what has helped me become peaceful, calm and nonviolent. It's what has helped me cope with triggers. I have friends who wouldn't believe how angry I get. They laugh. But it's true. I get angry. I just do not become enraged.

So how do we turn the tables on anger? I will share with you what works for me. Be thankful for something. Being grateful has this unbelievable effect that takes over your heart allowing for air and love to pop in. What else works for me? Let the other person be right. It's ok. This will only matter if your ego is more important than being at peace. Then, of course, there's meditation. When I am angry I use a tibetan bell meditation. The sound of a bell awakens a part of me that just wants to be happy and peaceable. It has this ancient sound that joins me to life. There are other types of meditation that work just as well. Sometimes I meditate focusing on the color blue. It keeps me from seeing red. But the one thing that I do that absolutely works miracles is prayer. When I am angry, I pray for whoever I am mad at–that I may see them, hear them, understand them, that my anger does not affect their field of energy in a negative way. This works miracles. Every time. Beware that the miracle may not be what you are thinking, but it is a miracle nonetheless.

Today is a good day to release your anger. Let it go to be alchemized into something beautiful. Do not act from your fear and pain. Do not try to justify it. Make a choice between being angry and being kind...to yourself, to others, to the air between all of us.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Living proof

Merriam-Webster defines a coincidence as a situation in which events happen at the same time in a way that is not planned or expected. I respect Merriam-Webster, but I disagree. I am more Jungian. I believe in synchronicity–occurrences not explained by conventionalism but with a meaningful and undeniable connection. I am living proof.

After trying, and failing, to catch-up on my writing projects over a long weekend, I gave up. I did so in the best disposition remembering that life should not be a struggle and that all is well when I flow. So I flowed. I played, I laughed, I loved. I let go. The following morning, instead of my usual meditation, I did a guided meditation in which the focus was resting, playing and rejuvenating in order to create. I knew then that all would be well. Sure enough, I am creating. There is no coincidence here. I needed this mediation as reassurance that I would create in time. I needed it in order not to fall back into stress and pressure. I needed it in order to spend the rest of the weekend relaxing, having fun, letting go.

As a student of the Tao Te Ching, I often go back to its verses, yet it has been a while since I have revisited the text. I had not gone back to it because I have been so busy with several projects. A few days ago, I was looking for a particular book in my library when I came across I book I did not know I had, The Tao of Writing. Then, as I waited for breakfast at a restaurant a few days later, the couple in front of me and I started a conversation about something I can't remember. What I do remember is that we ended up talking about the Tao Te Ching. In this synchronistic line, that very day, I received an email from YouTube with an update on my subscriptions. Sure enough, there was a video listed at the top on the Tao Te Ching. I tuned in and pulled my old copy of the book. I flipped through it for a moment and found that it is what I needed to review to work on one of my projects. Coincidence? Of course not.

A coincidence as a situation in which events happen at the same time in a way that is not planned cannot explain these events for they were planned. The Universe planned them.

Even those circumstances in which we cannot immediately find a meaningful connection have a meaningful connection. We are either open to it or not. The Universe organizes what we need, when we need it. We just need to pay attention, listen, be open, be receptive.

I share this with you as living proof that we are loved, protected and taken care of. Pay attention, Listen. Be open. Allow. Receive. You too are living proof of the magnificent engineering that the Universe orchestrates on our behalf.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Blurred vision

To draw a straight line we need a good eye. Our hand follows what we see. To draw, we need to see well. To see well, we need a clear vision. To have a clear vision, we need to go within.

Many times we begin a new journey, a new goal or new resolutions, but then we get lost along the way. We start off with a clear vision for what we want, yet it gets blurred by our pace of life, the speed at which we feel we have to make decisions, the opinion of those we love, our expectations, our feelings, set-backs, our interpretation of others' actions, our thoughts of how things should be, our fears, peer pressure, our insecurities, our stress, our critical view of ourselves and our perception of our current circumstances. We try to follow a straight line, but we can't see it because it is clouded by all of these thoughts, emotions, feelings and loud voices. How do we get clear again? We go within.

We go within in meditation. We go within to where it is quiet and still, where we only hear the voice of our highest Self, where our intuition leads the way guided by our inner compass. In this place, we find the clarity and the perspective that will help us see our present situation and our path better.

Today is a good day to stop for a few minutes, get still, get quiet and listen to our inner voice. Then we need to get our favorites colors out and start drawing our vision. Once we start trusting our inner wisdom, we stop second guessing ourselves and seeing more precisely. We draw our maps, our lines and what we envision for ourselves more accurately because our mind's eye is not obscured, our vision is not blurred.