Friday, March 15, 2013

Releasing Attachments

Attachments.  We all have them.  We’re attached to the people we love, we’re attached to our pets, we’re attached to objects, our homes, cars, TVs, computers, cell phones, and on and on it goes. We also have attachments to the way we want things to be, and the way we want things to go.  We’re attached to our beliefs and opinions.  I admit it.  I have a lot of attachments of my own.  But the more I learn about attachments, the more I am trying to release them.  The more I release them, the more at peace I find myself in any given situation.

Some of the biggest attachments we have are to our beliefs and opinions.  We don’t want to let them go; nor do we want them to change in any way.  Yet most of those beliefs were taught to us by someone else, and opinions are just thoughts based upon our beliefs.  Once I learned to let go of those attachments when it came to my beliefs, and opened myself up to learning all the Universe would have for me to know, the knowledge and wisdom I started to gain went into hyper-speed.  I learned to trust Spirit as my master teacher rather than to rely on man. 

One of the attachments I’m learning to let go is my attachment to thinking that all people should be loving, caring, and compassionate.  It would be nice if they were; but they’re not.  So when I read articles or letters to editors that are filled with hate, bigotry, and ignorance, Spirit really has to give me a talking to in order to keep my blood from boiling.  Spirit says, “Karen, just stand back and be the observer.”  I don’t have to have an attachment to someone else’s beliefs or opinions.  They have nothing to do with me.  It’s more about them and who they are as individuals.  When I let Spirit lead, then my heart goes out to them in that they don’t know the pure, unconditional, perfect love of Spirit (or God, if you wish).  I ask what happened to them in their lives to make them have so much hate in their hearts?  Who taught them that?  What did they experience in their lives to make them feel that way?  When I ask these questions, then I can feel the compassion take over, and I can just be the observer.  I can send them love and light and pray that they will some day know unconditional love and find peace.

People may get tired of hearing me say it (or reading it), but unconditional love really is what life’s all about.  All the great Spiritual teachers and leaders have said it.  Love one another.  Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  (John 13:34)  What part of this do we not understand?  He made no exceptions.   If someone isn’t speaking words of love, peace, harmony, compassion, kindness, and oneness then they are not speaking for God.  They are speaking for man and man’s own personal beliefs. 

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 states, “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”  This is a very good truth to keep in mind when we think about the attachments we have as to what we believe and the opinions we express.

I just read a great book by don Miguel Ruiz, Jr., a Nagual and Toltec Master of Transformation, titled “The Five Levels of Attachment.”  In it he states:  “I am love and peace starts with me.  I do not see race, creed, religion, gender, or whatever else as a division of the human species.  I do not see a belief that tears me away from my brother and sister.  I do not see an ego, a personal importance that forbids me from communing with everything in existence.  The point of life is to love, and to do so is a choice.  In that choice I take action, and in that action, I am love.  I have a voice.  I can use it to oppress, or I can use it to liberate.  I can create, I can lead, and I can love.  The same is true for you.  Together we can say, I love.  All we have and are is love.”

Therefore, release your attachments and let love in.  See your world through the eyes of Love.  It may just change your life.

(Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen March 15, 2013.)


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Animal Soul Connections

One thing I love about Facebook is all the posts about animals.  Many of my Facebook friends are animal lovers and we freely share with each other pictures and stories of our animal brothers and sisters. 

Some of the most heartwarming stories are those where animals came to the aid of their fellow human beings and saving their lives.  We are finding more and more that animals are a lot more intelligent than we ever gave them credit, and not just domesticated animals such as dogs and cats. 

There’s the story of a potbellied pig that ran out to the street to get help after his owner collapsed in the house from a heart attack.  The little goat who slept by her owner for five days after he collapsed in a pile of manure on a cold wintry night.  The Beluga whale that saved a diver who had found she could not move her legs, so the whale gently took a leg in her mouth and swam to the surface so that the diver could get air.  The parrot who started screaming and making a wild commotion while screaming “Mama baby!” over and over until the babysitter came back into the room to find the two year old child not breathing.  The silverback gorilla that protected a young boy who accidentally fell into the gorilla pen, kept him safe from the other gorillas, comforted the boy, and then led the other gorillas away so that the humans could get the boy out of the pen.  The cow that swam to his elder owner during a tsunami to help keep her alive until they could reach dry ground.  An elephant that put a four year old girl onto his back and ran for higher ground also during a tsunami.  The dog who kept a toddler afloat in a swimming pool by holding the boy’s head out of the water after he had fallen in.

Story after story is told of animals from all species coming to the aid of their fellow humans.  I can’t help but shed tears whenever I read of these stories.  Animals help so unselfishly and asking nothing in return. 

Many dogs are being used to alert their owners of health issues before they occur such as seizures, stroke, heart attack, diabetic complications and anxiety or panic attacks.  There’s the story of the cat that lived in a nursing home and would constantly stay by the side of a resident to alert staff that the person was getting ready to make their transition. 

Personally, I believe that animals are just like we humans only in different form.  They have feelings and express emotions.  They feel pain, loneliness, and heartache.  There was a great movie released in 1995 called “Powder” about an albino boy with incredible intellect, telepathy, and paranormal powers.  He ends up as a ward of the state and lived in a boy’s home.  The deputy sheriff took the boys on a hunting trip and upon hearing a gunshot, Powder runs to the scene where he sees that the deputy shot a beautiful doe.  Frantic, he grabs the deputy’s hand and puts it on the dying doe’s stomach.  To the deputy’s horror, he suddenly feels everything the doe was feeling… pain, fear, and death.  It traumatized him so much that he put up his guns and vowed that he would never kill another living thing ever again.  I bawl like a baby every time I see this scene in the movie. 

Those reading the pet section more than likely are great animal lovers.  For many of us, our pets are our children just as much as anyone’s human children are to them.  I love animals so much that I could no longer justify eating them; therefore, I became a vegetarian about thirty years ago and haven’t looked back.  I also personally believe that animals have souls, and for those of us who are very connected to animals, we see it in their eyes.  We feel that soul connection. 

I will leave you with a few of my favorite animal quotes…  Saint Francis of Assisi said, “If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”  Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”  And Einstein said, “Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.”


Friday, March 1, 2013

Blessing Adversity

As a writer and a speaker, I’m pretty much an open book.  I’m not afraid to talk about some of the things I’ve gone through in my life, what I’ve overcome, and what I’m still working on.  Many times after a talk, people will come up to me and tell me how much they related to what I was saying.  Recently, I spoke at a church in Dayton, Ohio, and a young woman came up to me afterwards and told me that it could have been her up there speaking instead of me. 

We all go through adversity.  Adversity is described as difficulties or misfortune.  It’s a part of life.  We can’t avoid it.  Adversity comes at us from birth until death.  Some have more of it than others, but it’s there all the same.  The difference is how we deal with what life throws at us.  Some are more able to sail through it, while others let it destroy them.  So, what’s the difference? 

A lot of it has to do with our attitudes towards life.  Do we have an “anything that can go wrong will go wrong” outlook?  Or do we look for the good that can come from it?  Just that shift in our outlook can make the biggest difference in how we deal with those obstacles that seem to pop up out of nowhere.  Do we play victim?  Or do we play hero where we push through until we get to the other side? 

One thing I’ve learned about adversity is that it sure makes me appreciate the good times so much more.  I’ve learned how much being in a state of gratitude can shift my perspective.  Looking for the good that comes from any situation already helps us to push through.  Obviously, the situation we are going through may not be good.  In fact, it can be one of the most horrendous things we’ve ever experienced.  Personally, I believe that good comes from everything whether we can see it at the moment or not.  That’s why I love hindsight.  Many times I can’t see the good until sometime after the event and I can look back and think, “Oh, so that’s why I went through that!”  It is only then that I find that the experience has actually made me a stronger and better person.  If nothing else, it taught me to have more love, compassion, and understanding for others who are going through the same experiences. 

Many years ago, my twenty-seven year old cousin was accidentally shot and killed by his best friend’s ten-year old son.  My cousin’s own son of the same age witnessed it.  That event put the families on both sides through hell.  At the funeral as I greeted my cousin’s wife and others, my young cousin was sitting there and people seemed to pass him by not knowing what to say to a child.  I stopped to give him my love and told him, “Don’t you let this destroy you!  You take this and you let it make you a stronger and better person.”  I don’t know if he remembers my words, or if they even made any difference.  Maybe it planted a seed.  I don’t know.  I do know that today, my cousin is twenty-one and is an EMT and firefighter.  He’s grown up well-adjusted and a fine young man.  He’s also dedicated his life in service to others.  I’m very proud of him.  His life could have gone a whole other way.  Of course, he had good people surrounding him.  His mom immediately forgave the other boy and continued to include him in family gatherings.  I’m sure his mom’s attitude made a world of difference for him.  Because of her choices, and those of other family members, they made it through the adversity and became heroes in their own lives.

We are all diamonds in the rough.  Adversity is the chipping, sanding, and polishing that makes us into the greatest expressions of who we are meant to be.  It is only in darkness that we can learn to let our light shine. 

The Dalai Lama said, “When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways--either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.” 

Adversity also helps us to develop character.  Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

It’s not easy, but once we learn to bless the adversity, it will change the whole outcome and we will prevail.  Victim or hero?  It’s our choice.

(Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen paper March 1, 2013.)