When everyone’s special..

“When everyone’s special, no one is.” –Syndrome, The Incredibles

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately and specifically how it captures the spirit of a recent trend: the need to out-special everyone around us.

I see it everywhere, as people take on more and more labels that separate them from “normal” society, ranging from reasonable to completely fabricated, wearing them like badges of honor.

I used to do this too, but as I’ve experienced more of life and people, I’ve taken on an increasingly “who cares?” worldview about it all.

At the end of the day, we are all just chunks of incarnated spirit, and we will succeed or fail based only on how we take care of that.

We work so hard to prove to people and to ourselves how great we are but deep down we suspect that we are actually uninteresting and useless. We are afraid of being basic.

The thing is, though, we can’t truly know who we are inside until we strip off all our decorations and disclaimers. When we do, we’ll find that, while our core really is small and quiet, it holds more life than anything we tried to cover it up with.

It’s acceptance of that core that resonates with other people, and it’s that acceptance that allows us to love and enjoy ourselves.

Stop Improving and Just Listen

My town was hit with a magnificent thunderstorm yesterday.

I watched it with the window open as I sat at my desk doing my homework.

Storms are the perfect time for cleansing and healing spells, so I set my little chunk of rose quartz and a cone of nag champa incense on my desk by the window. I asked God to bless them and use them to further his work, filling them with intention.

However, I soon realized that the scent of the incense was drowning out the gritty cleansing scent of the rain. I quickly put my incense away and left the stone by itself on the desk.

As a human, my first thought in any situation is how to make it better. But instead, my first thought should be to listen. It’s a difficult habit to break, but one I must work on if I want to start dismantling that wall between myself and nature.

Devoted but not Loyal

I’m starting to get burnt out on church again.

I’ve been going to church every week for the past two months: compared to my previous record of once or twice a month. It was great for a while, but the last few weeks I’ve just felt stagnant. And I don’t know if it’s a stagnancy I need to wade through or one I need to change.

When it comes to Christianity, I’m devoted, but I’m not loyal. I believe that, if God/the Universe/the Life Stream is everything–is the beginning, middle, and end of all that exists–no religion, and definitely no church, owns him. Therefore, if a method of connecting to him isn’t working, there’s no shame in leaving and trying something else.

Before I returned to church, my Sundays were spent quietly with coffee and toast, listening to a sermon or other spiritual teaching while playing video games. On mornings when the weather was nice, or when God had something particularly pressing to speak with me about, I would go on a walk or go to the woods to meditate.

I miss those mornings. But at the same time, when I had those mornings, I missed meeting with other Christians and the spiritual stability that church brings.

I need to find a balance.

For now, I think I will continue going to the church I found in Tokyo because I do have good friends there. I’m only here for four more weeks and I want to make the most of the time I have left.

 

Barn Cats

I grew up on a farm in the country where we had a large population of barn cats: cats that lived outside, caught mice, and generally managed themselves.

If barn cats are good at one thing, it is multiplying. There were always kittens around, who then grew up into adult cats, who then had their own kittens.

You’d think we would have eventually been overrun with cats, but we never were. And the reason awes me even to this day.

The cats would go through seasons of increase. Kittens were born, cats were living to old age, and the population was climbing. But then, when the population reached a certain number, there would come a season of decrease. Cats would die from sickness, get hit on the road, die from freak accidents, or just disappear altogether.

I don’t know why births and deaths didn’t just happen alongside each other: for every kitten born, an older cat dies. But they didn’t. They happened in seasons.

Nature is governed by seasons. In the summer, grass grows and fruit ripens. In the winter, everything dies, clearing the path for new growth.

Life seems to work this way as well.

I don’t know why it’s this way, and sometimes I wish it wasn’t. Especially when I’m in the season of death and clearing.

But I know that once the clearing is finished, there will be new growth in its place. And eventually, that new growth will become old and another season of clearing will commence, to make way for new new growth.

And in that way, nature manages itself. In that way, there is balance.

not like this

My best friends’ dad died today. He left a wife and four children, two of them in middle school.

As I was trying to get ready for the day, weeping, I heard God speak. “This is why you are going back (to America),” he said, “to be there for them. Improve your empathy, because they will need it.”

I like finding out what my next step is, but not like this. Not like this.

Acceptance

Reality works like a mirror. Whether you take this as literal truth or just a helpful metaphor, it still holds true.

This is why some people seem to have good luck and some bad, and why people who like themselves often end up being liked by others (and vice versa). There are endless applications of this on every conceivable topic from relationships to health.

For me, now, it has been showing up with regards to my self-image. The more I learn to accept and enjoy myself, the easier it is for me to accept and enjoy other people.

I used to be very prideful and very cynical. I disliked people, as a species in general. (I still do a little, if I’m honest.) And the fact that I was part of this species felt like a dirty secret to me. I always wanted to tack on a qualifier in my mind. “Yeah, I’m part of humanity, but…”, or “Yeah, I’m a girl, but…”

Qualifiers do more harm than good, I think. It’s only in taking them away and accepting what and who I am that I have been able to see more clearly what my true potential is. And by extension, that of other people.

Chakras and How to Clear Them

Last night, I reopened my chakras.

Usually, I only do chakra meditation if I feel one or two in particular are clogged and need to be cleaned out. It was the first time that I had sat down and used a string of meditations to open each of them in turn. It felt good. Like, really good. I feel like I had a full-body scrub and a spiritual getaway all in one.

Chakras represent energy concentrations in your body and, like organs, they are commonly given main functions. For your convenience, here are the locations and simplified functions of each:

  • Root Chakra: Base of the spine. Deals with security, food, and the other basic animal instincts. Blocked by fear and being out of touch with your environment.
  • Sacral Chakra: In pelvic region, below navel. Deals with pleasure and sexuality. Blocked by shame.
  • Solar Plexus Chakra: In stomach. Deals with dignity, pride, and confidence. Blocked by poor self image.
  • Heart Chakra: In chest. Deals with love and emotions. Blocked by hate.
  • Throat Chakra: In throat. Deals with truth and self expression. Blocked by lies and inability to express yourself.
  • Third-Eye Chakra: In center of forehead. Deals with insight, clairvoyance, and decision-making. Blocked by confusion.
  • Crown Chakra: On top of the head. Deals with spirituality, enlightenment, and oneness with everything. Blocked by attachment and preoccupation with earthly things.

To open your chakras, all you need to do is clear out what is keeping them from flowing freely. Admittedly, that is easier said than done. For example, dealing with the hate you have for someone, or dealing with shame or insecurity. It’s difficult, and it’s an ongoing process.

A good way to do this is through meditation. Chakra meditation is simple in structure. Choose a chakra to focus on. Think of what it means and what blocks it. Examine yourself in this light and work at trying to open it. Start scooping away the gunk clogging it up. Eventually, you will get a clean, relaxed feeling, a feeling of new understanding and freedom. That’s the sign that that chakra has been opened.

There are all kinds of meditation positions, chants, and visualizations to aid chakra opening. Personally, I’ve found this one to be the most helpful as a meditation guide. For general chakra information, as well as signs of blocked chakras, I like to watch Chakraboosters on Youtube.

As a general tip, you should not open your crown chakra if your root chakra is blocked. That can make your imbalance between physical and spiritual even greater. Always start with the root and work your way up.

Happy chakra-ing!

 

Meditation Corner

Some of the best advice I’ve heard about getting better at prayer and meditation was from a speaker at a conference I went to in high school. He advised us to create a “sanctuary in our room.” In other words, create a nook you can go to that is only used for prayer or meditation. In that way, you will be better able to focus and hopefully spend less time playing “tie down the monkeys” with your stray thoughts.

There used to be this tree a short walk from my house that bordered a wheat field. It had long, drooping branches and in the summer, its thick leafy branches touched the top of the wheat, creating a secret little spot in the shade. I went there to meditate as often as I could manage.

When I couldn’t manage, I took all the pictures off of one of the walls in my room and set a chair there, facing the corner.

These days, I find sitting on the floor in the dark, or with a candle or incense, more effective than the chair in the corner. But I still prefer to meditate outside when possible, if I can find somewhere I won’t be disturbed.

The Killing Kind

I used to have no problem killing bugs I found in the house. But I’m finding it harder and harder to do so. Which is ironic because the idea of death doesn’t actually bother me all that much (I see it as a necessary part to the cycle of life). Nowadays, when I kill bugs–out of fear or because I was too lazy to find a more humane solution–I feel a deep sense of shame.

Killing for defense, I understand. Killing for food, I understand as well. But killing a creature because it is trespassing, even when it poses no great harm to you? Yes, it’s within my rights to do so, but I can’t get the idea out of my mind that I should be the “bigger person,” so to speak. I am the sturdier one. I will live longer and fewer things will threaten me. I am built more resilient.

Shouldn’t I use some of that resilience to make the short life of smaller creatures just a little better and a little longer? What does it cost me really?

I’d probably be singing a different tune if I was in the midst of an infestation. But for now at least, while choosing mercy doesn’t put me in danger, I’m going to put my bug friends outside.

Physical

Even though I complain about having a physical form a lot, sometimes I really do enjoy having a body.

I enjoy having one on dusty summer days, walking in shorts and a tank top in the sticky heat. Muscles pulling under my skin, happy for some use and some grounding. Sweat streaming from every pore, cleaning the gunk out of my energy stream, allowing it to flow unhindered through all my chakra pools. Connecting me to the part of myself that came from the earth.

In a lifestyle where most of my time is spent sitting at a desk, I adore these times when I get to connect again with my body.

I used to be active in sports when I was younger, and I am realizing just how much I miss it. I miss the physical challenge and how it fosters collaboration between a person’s body and spirit. Maybe I’ll take up a sport again.