Archive for the ‘harmony’ Category

Meeting Jorge

November 29, 2009

If you ask Jorge Luis Delgado what is life is about, he will likely answer, without hesitation, “Love, service, and wisdom,” or munay, llancay, and yachay in the Quechua language. 

In North America, Jorge would be called a shaman. But Jorge is Peruvian of Incan ancestry, born and raised near Lake Titicaca.  He refers to himself a chacaruna, a “bridge person.” A bridge person is one who helps others navigate from one state of consciousness to another (an apt description of what shamans around the world do). The bridge that Jorge provides has been forged by years of service, a loving and humble heart, and wisdom that comes from communion and respect for both Mother Earth and Father Sun. And those journeying across that bridge come to a state of consciousness in which they recognize that they are, and always have been, enlightened—they just have been resistant to embrace it. 

I first heard of Jorge when a close friend of mine met him while on a tour of Machu Picchu. There seem to be shamans behind every bush in South America and I am always a bit skeptical when Americans return from trips to the southern hemisphere with stories about the power people they have met there. It isn’t that I doubt that there are powerful shamans in South America. There are. My skepticism is of the same variety as that I have when people tell me they have crowded into a sweat lodge with forty other people to participate in ceremony led by someone whose background they have only sketchy information about. It’s the same skepticism I have of those who call themselves shamans but cannot quite explain their path to the work, apart from a couple of classes in shamanism and a interior pull. There are many seekers of mystical experience and, it seems, just as many purveyors of that experience who are selling mysticism as if the experience could be pasteurized and bottled for easy consumption. Motor oil passed off as snake oil passed off as enlightenment. Altered states for those who want to be able to TiVo it. 

So I didn’t really give the fact that my friend had spent time with a Peruvian shaman much thought—until she called one day to tell me that the same shaman was hosting a gathering of elders at Lake Titicaca to activate the Solar Disc in the lake, and that those who wanted to lend their energy to the process were being invited to join in. I knew at once that I was supposed to be there. 

It was the same kind of knowing I’d had many years ago when I asked a shaman if I could work one-on-one with him and he replied with a question, “Journey work, or do you want to be an apprentice?” At the time, I had no conscious thought of becoming apprenticed to a shaman, but my brain was bypassed by the part of me that knew it was time to step into my destiny and I answered, without thought, “Apprentice.”

Now I had the same kind of visceral knowing about Lake Titicaca and the activation of the Solar Disc. It was as if I’d finally received an invitation sent out before I’d ever stepped into this body in this life—and I’d sent myself that invitation, as part of an agreement made between many souls to be at an appointed place at an appointed time. Somehow, the fact that I have a husband with cancer and limited income were irrelevant. I’d agreed to be there long ago and I was going to fulfill that promise.           

The name Jorge Luis Delgado came into focus the instant I answered that invitation saying, “I’ll be there.” 

As luck would have it, Jorge was going to be in the United States some months after I made that commitment and I set about to help my friend (and others) publicize this first visit to and workshop in Denver. I wanted to meet the man whose interior ley lines seemed to be intersecting and activating my own. 

What I encountered in that meeting was a man of humility and humor, of wisdom and wit. A practical man, Jorge seems to see love as a verb and practices the active side of love without stress or pressure . . . but also with the unsettling ability to see right into the core of a person. The man is no tourist shaman. He’s the real deal.

There is a great deal to say about Jorge, the Incan cosmology, and the new Pachacuti—the return of the light—and it cannot all be said in one blog post. But Mother Earth and Father Sun have been waiting patiently for the end of the age of darkness, so I’m hoping my readers can apply just a bit of patience, too, for the next post.

 Copyright 2009 by Melanie Mulhall

Frugality with Grace

November 22, 2008
The current economic crisis seems to have the media talking about how people can live more frugally. In the US, we are probably long overdue for a review of how we live and how we spend our money. There is a downside to all this focus on hard times, though. It can lead to a paucity mentality.

When we focus on what we do not have, we tend to forget what we do have. When we focus on keeping a close watch on our money, we also tend to focus on all the things we cannot buy instead of how gracefully we can live with what we already have.

Those of us with one-person businesses might have an edge over the rest of the population. In the process of keeping our businesses afloat, many of us develop a frugal lifestyle. I certainly have learned how to live frugally.  Whether it stems from my childhood and the circumstances of my life or, as I suspect, the life I have chosen as a shaman, I have developed a mindset about life and living simply that serves me well in both flush and flat economic times.

Living frugally and with grace is not particularly difficult, but to get there does require you to be comfortable in your own skin. If you are concerned about keeping up with every trend, having every convenience, and possessing every luxury, you will struggle with frugality. Grace? Life’s trappings might pass for grace . . . for a time . . . but if it is all about the trappings, your lack of comfort in your own skin will be obvious. Why? Because if you are comfortable in your own skin, the trappings will be secondary. Instead, meeting the world head-on, in the moment, will be at the forefront.

Frugality with grace is not comprised of the same things for everyone. Different things are important to different people. What is grace for one person is not for another. I can talk about some of the things that have helped me live frugally with grace, but I will not for a minute suggest those things are necessary, sufficient, or would take you to the same place. All I can do is reveal some things that have worked for me.

That said, here are a few of those things:

·        I tend to put my money towards what is meaningful to me and not on what matters less to me. That means I don’t have cable or satellite, I don’t have an expensive cell phone plan, I don’t have a new or near-new car, and I don’t spend much money on entertainment. (I’m very good at entertaining myself.)

·        Staying healthy is important to me, so I belong to a gym. I also run. The gym costs me some money. The run only costs me the occasional pair of shoes and running tights. I know myself well enough to know that I won’t accomplish the same thing at home that I will at the gym, so the gym membership works for me. I believe it has paid for itself. I don’t have the back problems I once had.

·        And because staying healthy is important to me, I take almost all my meals at home. I prepare them myself and they don’t come out of a box. Preparing my own meals at home from great ingredients is light years ahead of almost any other way to eat from both a health and a frugality standpoint. The act of cooking (for me) is also grounding and takes me out of my head (where my work as a writer and editor keeps me much of the time).

·        I love clothes. I love having lots of options with clothes. I love good fabric. I love expressing myself with clothes. And I buy most of my clothes at thrift stores. I get my share of designer labels and current styles (though I care about my own sense of style more than what someone else says is current). Many of my friends, acquaintances, and colleagues are astounded by the fact that my clothes come from thrift stores because I usually look good and well put together. Not only is this a very frugal way to attire one’s self, it is also incredibly fun. Shopping at thrift stores is like going on a treasure hunt.

·        My shoes? The occasional pair of almost-not-worn boots also comes from thrift stores, but most of my shoes come from DSW and more than half of those come from the racks at the back of the store where the shoes are deeply discounted. I could do an ad for DSW. I think they’re great. That one can have beautiful, quality footwear (important for me as a Pisces) without spending a fortune is frugality with grace.

·        I clean my own house. There was a time when I hired others to do that, but for a number of years, I have taken back that activity. I save a great deal of money in the process (sacrificing a little time for it), the manual labor is good for the body and soul, and it is another activity that keeps me grounded.

·        My husband and I also look after our own yard, for the most part. I have gotten help with felling trees, but the maintenance work is done by us. I love my flowers and herbs and have a number of small beds. They have been developed over many years, so I am fortunate to have something other than a bare patch of ground that must be planted. I save additional money by over-wintering some plants indoors. That means I don’t have to replace them every spring. I get a bit of thrill from the sight of folks walking by my house who stop to gawk at my window full of geraniums, blooming all winter, and I have the grace of living among beautiful, living things. Doing so with frugality in mind is grace with frugality.

·        I admit that I do probably spend more money on plants than many people, but I consider cost and the life of the plant in when I make purchases. For instance, I often buy perennials to plant in pots to dress up my decks, then put them in the ground in the fall. Dual benefit.

·        Yes, I spend money on books, too. I’m a writer. That means books are important to me. But I often buy current fiction at the thrift store and get the rest as deeply discounted as I can. That is, except for those I buy full price in support of my fellow writers. I also pass books on to others when I am done with them and occasionally even get a few from others, too. Frugal, luxurious, and better for the environment.

·        I have good equipment for my work (which ends up saving money, I believe,) but I do not jump at every new thing out there and I do not have equipment I don’t really need. I’m not trying to prove how hip I am with technology (which is a good thing because I am definitely not hip). I would rather demonstrate that I am good at what I do by the results my clients see.

I could go on. This is just a taste of how I manage to live frugally with grace.

But I’d like to hear from you. If you’re good at this, share some hints. If you aren’t yet good at it and have questions, bring them on.

And for those of you who want to know what the “grace” in frugality with grace means, here’s my off-the-cuff definition: grace is a sense of peacefulness, of effortless ease, of harmony.

I’d like to hear your own definition of that, too!

Copyright 2008 by Melanie Mulhall.

Harmony? Where do I Start?

May 7, 2008

Life is definitely a four-part harmony built on mind, body, spirit, and emotions, but if your life feels anything but harmonious at the moment, where do you start? Many of us are over-stressed, over-burdened, over-committed, overweight . . . and too overwhelmed to know how to get over all those things.

I’m going to suggest something so radical it’s simplicity might get lost in the tsunami of emotions it is likely to evoke in the reader: start by getting more sleep. Why start with sleep? Because it impacts almost everything else.

Before I say one more word, I want to insert a caveat. If you are the parent of a newborn child, I know you’re already groaning and throwing things at the computer. On the other hand, if you’re the parent of a newborn child, you’re probably not reading this anyway! If you actually are reading this blog, you get a buy on this one. Someday you may get a good night’s sleep again, but it might not be anytime soon and the smell of your baby’s skin probably brings you back into harmony faster than most people can pull off with a week of meditation. I’m not talking about you.

The rest of us, though, may need a reminder to get a decent night’s sleep.

Science is finally catching up with what many of us have known experientially for years: we eat more and we eat less healthfully if we don’t get enough sleep. Ever had a craving for junk food after pulling an all-nighter in college or at the office? If so, you know what I mean. If you are out of harmony with your body and one part of that is food related, you are not easily going to find that harmony if you are routinely sleep deprived.

Want a clear head and emotions that don’t careen all over the highway of your inner being? Get enough sleep. Executives and entrepreneurs just might be the worst perpetrators of self-inflicted sleep deficit (excepting those new parents) and it is scary to think about the effects. Even Harvard Business Review is hip to this problem. The October, 2006 issue featured an insightful article titled “Sleep Deficit: The Performance Killer.” That article was the result of a conversation with Harvard Medical School professor, Charles A. Czeisler, who is one of the world’s leading experts on the biology of sleep. Czeisler had a great many things to say on the subject of sleep deprivation, but one of the most rivetting was his belief that the level of sleep deprivation endorsed by and even expected of companies for their people (particularly managers) impairs those people, over time, every bit as much as intoxication would. Yikes! What are we doing to ourselves?

Want spiritual harmony? Well, one thing I advocate (and practice) to help get there is meditation. But if you are falling asleep every time you sit down to meditate–because you are too sleep deprived to do anything else–you are not going to reap the benefits for which you sat down to meditate in the first place. 

The folks are legion who will argue that they just plain have too much going on in their lives to get more sleep. But both efficiency and effectiveness suffer if you are sleep deprived. Getting enough sleep is foundational to amassing the energy you need to live life at full throttle. 

Think you get enough sleep? Many people who are sleep deprived do. You might not be one of them but, then again, you just might be. Here is a question to help you determine where you fall on this. It may not be the acid test, but it will provide some clues. Do you need an alarm clock to awaken?

If so, consider the possibility that you might need more sleep. Start there and you will be striking the right chord to play a four-part harmony life.


Life is a Four-Part Harmony

April 25, 2008

One of my client-friends is confronting the issue of balance in his life at the moment. Living authentically and walking his talk is important to him. He is writing a book to help people live their dreams consciously, with purpose and with abundance, so he is sensitized to his own process.

Balance is a trickly thing for those of us focused on living our dreams. The image that comes to mind for some of you might be of someone perched on a highwire, teetering and trying to avoid falling off. Others may get the image of scales, the sides perfectly–or not so perfectly–balanced.

There is nothing wrong with either of those images, but I prefer to use the word “harmony” as many people use the word “balance.” Why? Because balance often implies portions in equal buckets (like those scales) or  the threat of crashing and burning (like falling off that highwire). Harmony suggests something quite different: a congruent and pleasing arrangement of parts.

I believe that life is a four-part harmony comprised of body, mind, spirit, and emotions and that all of these components have a being and a doing quality. My client-friend has discovered in himself a tendency to over-do, to plunge forward with activity, sometimes at the expense of his health, well-being, and . . . yes, at the expense of maintaining harmony of mind, body, spirit, and emotions. He is consciously attending to the being side of all four, as well as the doing side. In doing so, what I am witnessing from the outside is a period of amazing transformation in him.

Living the dream is about four-part harmony: attending to it, making it a priority, and being conscious about both the being and the doing sides of each one of the four components. I don’t suggest it is always easy, but the experience of harmony is delicious enough to bring you back, again and again. And, in the end, everything seems to flow easier in harmony.

What’s your experience?