An eclectic spiritual & inspirational place to heal, learn, feel & expand. Heart & soul first. Miraculous experiences from India as well as the life & times of a spiritual healer/teacher in the U.S. Miracles, saints, sages, gurus, healing, life & death... and more...!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

25 Christmas quotes that will warm your heart...

I love all spiritual traditions, and celebrate many of them throughout the year. In December, however, when the world is at its darkest, the two superb holiday seasons of Hanukkah and Christmas bring so much light, hope, peace, beauty and love to so many people that I think they're my favorites. And this time of year is such a special one...! 

In the spirit of Christmastime, then, here are 25 quotes about Christmas and holidays... they've moved my heart and made me laugh, and I hope you enjoy them, too.

Happy and merry to you and yours -- during this blessed time, and all year through!

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
- Norman Vincent Peale

Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’.
– Bing Crosby

The holiest of holidays are those kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
- Calvin Coolidge

Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn't come from a store.
- Dr. Seuss

A good conscience is a continual Christmas.
- Benjamin Franklin

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.
- Roy L. Smith

Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas.
- Dale Evans

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
- Charles Dickens

Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.
- Washington Irving

God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.
- James M. Barrie

Love the giver more than the gift.
- Brigham Young

I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up - they have no holidays.
- Henny Youngman

As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.
- Donald E. Westlake

You have to remind kids to stay connected to the meaning of Christmas. Sometimes it takes a little bit of effort, but it’s so worth it.
- Caroline Kennedy

... ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long.
- Shakespeare

Moving between the legs of tables and of chairs, rising or falling, grasping at kisses and toys, advancing boldly, sudden to take alarm, retreating to the corner of arm and knee, eager to be reassured, taking pleasure in the fragrant brilliance of the Christmas tree.
- T. S. Eliot

The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing others’ loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of the holidays.
- W. C. Jones

Share your gifts (material, mental and spiritual) with the less fortunate on Christmas. This will make your holiday a real one.
- Paramahansa Yogananda

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.  Don’t clean it up too quickly.
– Andy Rooney

A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours.
- John B. Priestly

Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.
– Mary Ellen Chase

 Christmas is the day that holds all time together.
– Alexander Smith

A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.
– Garrison Keillor

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love. 
- Hamilton Wright Mabie

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Anderson Cooper, mindfulness, Buddhism... and kerfuffles.

I'm sure you've heard by now that Anderson Cooper, on 60 Minutes, had a publicly filmed experience of a mindfulness meditation retreat.  if you haven't seen it yet, here's the video from CBS...

and despite the beauty, peace and dignity of his experience, there was some fallout about it amongst the mindfulness set... (come again?)... like this article from Professor Jeff Wilson, criticizing Cooper's presentation for not being, uh, traditionally Buddhist enough.  (come again?) 

normally, I wouldn't jump into a fray like this or care too much about kerfuffles over religion, faith, practice, spirituality or this and that -- but a good friend tagged me on the Wilson article on Facebook, obviously with the intention to get a discussion started between his thoughtful, spiritual friends. 

and, so, here's my response to Professor Wilson's article:

oh, ha, seems like Wilson is another classical Buddhist with an ax to grind about purity, presentation, preservation of 'the tradition,' etc. oxymorons and paradoxes abound, obviously (why would a Buddhist cling to anything? arrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhh).

I loved the Anderson Cooper video, loved a mainstream guy exploring an ancient knowledge system, and finding some merit in it, for his own life and inner peace. and then sharing it widely via his role as a figure in media. there's a problem with this? I think it's great! if even ONE stressed person in the US (and there are only a few hundred million of those, right now, sheesh!) gets some relief or insight into their own consciousness because of Anderson Cooper's experience -- so much the better.

obviously, Wilson doesn't know (or doesn't care to know) about the reams of research that were done during the hey-day of the TM (Transcendental Meditation) movement in the US and worldwide, in the '70s. TM meditators were routinely hooked up to EEG, galvanic skin response, and other devices in medical schools and universities around the US, demonstrating the brainwave synchrony and other health/inner peace/stress reduction benefits possible when meditating with mantra, TM-style. the experiments were conducted by major research universities and medical schools because the results were EASY to reproduce! consistent! and showed clearly what ancient texts from India had described millenniae ago -- the 4th state of consciousness, the trance or transcendent (meditative) state. (it has a distinctly recognizable, unique brainwave patterning and other physical factors from the previously known, consistently identifiable 3 states of sleeping, waking or dreaming.)

Wilson's outrage over someone approaching meditation from a stress-reducing or medically Western approach to gather some data is just, well, anachronistic and ridiculous. (sir, your ignorance is showing!)

finally -- a word from our sponsors (the ancient rishis, or 'researchers', of India) -- the guys who wrote the Vedas millenniae ago (from which knowledge Buddhism sprang, also in India, just a more modern level of expression of the same ancient truths and observations) on the difference between 'religion' and 'spiritual stuff'. when the ancients cognized the Vedas (Veda only means 'knowledge', by the way, not dogma or religion or whatever), their consciousness was super-clear and open (not unlike later rishis, like Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Padmasambhava, Patanjali, Francis of Assisi, etc.) and they simply received the knowledge of how stuff operates in this creation. you could say, the blueprint of creation. simple. no 'you should do this' or 'you shouldn't do that' stuff, no rules per se -- simply knowledge and observation about how creation functions.

my feeling is that spiritual figures have graced this planet since time began, bringing whatever pieces of knowledge, of divine awareness, are appropriate for their age (time cycle) and region (audience) -- and within a generation or two, that pure knowledge has been codified and distorted by normal human beings without a really refined consciousness, into the best they can approximate -- ie, religions.

if you look at every religion on the planet, there are universal truths threaded through them all. the candle shapes may be different, but the light, the flame, is the same.

Wilson's regrettably silly screed against Anderson Cooper's beautiful journey may have gained him a paycheck -- but it certainly has done nothing to advance universal love, peace, and understanding among human beings.

Monday, December 15, 2014

how a sick dog got restored to good health...

This is Shanti the dog - he's a year old. His mom called me a couple weeks ago with an urgent request for healing & pet communication for him; he'd been having diarrhea and vomiting, no energy, was super-weak and a visit to the vet revealed that his liver was compromised. (Apparently his breed is known for liver issues.)

I promised her I would do everything I could to help little Shanti - knowing that any healer is only a conduit for the divine energy, and the decision isn't, ultimately, in our hands. We do our best, and surrender the results.

Talking with animals - part of the healing process
During our conversation (I talk to animals through their photographs) on a Friday night, I let Shanti know that his liver was the problem, and why he wasn't feeling well. 

This sweet, upbeat dog wasn't disturbed in the least by his situation, and part of our conversation included the following exchange:

Alx: Your mom loves you very very much — she will help you through this, and do everything she can to keep you healthy and comfortable.

Shanti: I love my mom! She is so sweet! She has a big heart and feeds me good treats and I love her! We go places together and she takes care of me!

Alx: Yes, she really does!

Shanti: I will be healthy and comfortable if she’s helping me!

What amazing clarity and open-hearted faith! I knew then that he would be all right, and that his mom's intense love and blessing would be part of his healing equation.

After talking with Shanti for a while, I sent the healing energy to him, and saw its blessing go to his liver, and start to alter its situation. Since I'm not overly visual, this was unusual and beautiful to me.

Two more days of healing work...
Over the next two days (Saturday and Sunday), I did two more healings (at a distance) for Shanti -- his mom reported he was sleeping a LOT during those days, which I felt was a good symptom of his system absorbing the healing energy and starting to repair itself.

Good news!
On Monday, I got a text which literally left me laughing and crying at the same time:

"Back from doctors office. His numbers are in normal range! She was quite surprised. She didn't redo one test...she thinks he was born with the liver condition, will retest in 6 months. I believe he will be totally healed. He's still on antibiotics. He's back to his playful self! Thank you so much!"

...and gratitude, as always, was the dominant feeling, along with joy and relief, that has stayed with me ever since. Being able to intervene and help an animal in distress is a powerful, mystical, profound experience, and it's my honor to be able to do so. In this case, the outcome left me all the more amazed and grateful to be able to help.

Any animal, any time
If you'd like to know more about my work with animals, please check out my web page.

Thank you for reading this story -- and have a blessed day!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

as in yoga, so in life

“Yoga is the practice of quieting the mind.”
- Patanjali

"Calming the mind is Yoga. Not just standing on the head."
- Swami Satchidananda

"Yoga is.. the disunion of the union with sorrow."
- Bhagavad Gita,
translated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Every time I do a yoga practice, or teach a yoga class, I'm struck by the same thing - yoga is preparation for how to live well. 

Perhaps some people come to yoga for the workout, or the stretches, the power poses or the sweat - that's fine, but exercise isn't, to me, what yoga is about, at all.

In asana practice, we're deliberating putting the body into a stressful series of poses. (Even the easier, non-pretzel types of poses are a challenge to the body and especially the mind.  Don't think so? Hold the same pose a minute or two longer than you normally consider 'comfortable,' and you'll see what I mean. The mind will start to go a little wild, rebelling against the pose, the quiet, the strain, the potential 'danger' in holding a pose too long... lol.)  

At the same time the body is in a stressful position, the breath is even, deep, flowing and relaxed.  This is the apparent paradox of yoga -- how to be in a stressful position while maintaining an even, calm breath.  Because the breath and the mind are intimately linked, you've probably discovered by now that the mind will automatically follow the breath (and vice versa).  As you slow down the breathing, keeping it even and relaxed and deep, the mind also slows down, relaxes, gets calmer.

Yoga practice without a focus on the breath and the inner calmness is missing the depth of the experience of yoga. 

My personal experience is that an on-going yoga practice becomes a constant teacher, a lifelong learning and research project - into the self.  For a while, a new pose may be challenging, physically of course, but also to the smooth, even maintenance of the breath. Once the pose is familiar, the challenge lies in keeping the breath calm and even (same time spent on the inhale, and on the exhale), and developing the calm mind to go along with it... a daily discipline and exploration, since the breath + posture relationship is always different, changing, kaleidoscopic. 

There is definitely nothing static in yoga, ever. Even while holding the body still for a few minutes at a time, the inner experience is moving, moving, moving.

All of this becomes an incredible resource for how to live one's life away from the yoga mat. Most people's lives are composed of a fair amount of stressful 'postures' throughout the day -- and the on-going challenge to each of us becomes about how to maintain equilibrium, balance, calmness... even in the face of extreme difficulties, chaos and stressors. 

When I'm practicing yoga, I'm practicing life -- and often find myself thinking that this must be what the eye of a storm experiences.  The winds can be whipping all around (and they do! and often!), creating all kinds of chaos, upheaval, loss, uncertainties -- and yet the eye of the storm itself is silent, calm, unmoving. 

In the middle of even the most strenuous or stressful yoga poses, my primary focus and loyalty is to the art of breathing, of maintaining that calm state. 

If I can keep the breath even no matter what is going on with the body during yoga, well, I can keep my life even, no matter what is going on around me during the rest of my day. Practice in one area, apply the lessons learned to all areas.

If you haven't taken the time in yoga to explore your breath and how it works, you're in for a stunning adventure into your self.  It's my hope that you'll give yourself license to experience, deepen, discover and play with the practice of breath plus asana, and find that calm, quiet eye within your own system... the one that can stay even and calm no matter what kinds of winds are blowing all around you. 

That calm, even one is the real you. 

Breathe in.  Breathe out.