Money and Life Press Screening

I just got home from a press screening in Columbus, Ohio where we viewed and discussed the film Money and Life. Please watch this movie and encourage those you know to watch it, if you haven’t already! Here’s a brief description of the film as quoted on the site:

“Money & Life is a passionate and inspirational essay-style documentary that that asks a provocative question: can we see the economic crisis not as a disaster, but as a tremendous opportunity?  This cinematic odyssey connects the dots on our current economic pains and offers a new story of money based on an emerging paradigm of planetary well-being that understands all of life as profoundly interconnected.”

Community Support

The best part of the night was seeing the community come together for such a heartfelt, open discussion. It has never been more clear that this is the time to change our perspectives, stop buying from large corporations, stop consuming so much stuff, stop participating in the system as it stands… so we can rediscover our personal values, reconnect with nature, and reconnect with one another. Tonight addressed all of the questions I’ve been asking myself and then some… including how to be more active and involved. While I’m feeling flooded with a sense of optimism toward one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the world… right now.. I haven’t even begun to organize an essay or structured blog post. However, I would like to post a link to the MOVE TO AMEND petition and invite you to consider closely what it stands for.

People are out there working so hard, doing amazing things for one another. Many of these people and efforts are right in our own backyards in need of more participants. They’re out there, and you can be a part of it… We all can!

“I Miss You.” (and nostalgia)

Three powerful words, indeed. Walking out of work today, I noticed I had received a text from a friend who is away on vacation with her family.

“I miss you!”

It read, as I opened up my high-tech Razr flip phone (haha), while simultaneously digging for keys and nearly dropping the purse I was carrying. It brought a smile to my face.

 

“I miss you.”

Such a nice thing to hear! The feeling of being missed, such a comfort.
This was a nice reminder to me… the caring gesture of communicating the feeling of missing to people — right when we feel it. Otherwise, they won’t know we were feeling it.
Suddenly I’m sitting here thinking of people and moments that I miss, old friends, loved ones, family.
A time like this is cause to pick up “The Four Loves” by C.S. Lewis and read a few pages. Such a great read.
A time like this is cause to let someone know they are missed.
A time like this  is cause to reflect on how much my son has grown. One of many memories shown above in the photo.

Nostalgia.  

Tina - July 22, 2014 - 10:28 am

Look at little Ky! :) Beautiful photo and words as always… and as always I MISS YOU! :)

Michelle (Aurora) - July 22, 2014 - 12:49 pm

I’m ever-grateful for you milady <3 Our kids are HUGE compared to when we first met! Can’t wait to see you all. Much love! Miss you very much. Thanks for reading!

Dez - July 22, 2014 - 2:20 pm

I miss you!!

Michelle (Aurora) - July 22, 2014 - 10:54 pm

Miss you and hope all is well, madame!

Pain as Nourishment

While I’m currently working on another essay post, as well as an inspirational piece for the blog… this issue is more present-tense. I wanted to write briefly about pain and working with negative emotions.

Vulnerability

While positive thinking is a good quality to have, it becomes counterproductive when we fail to fully accept the pains we experience, restricting ourselves from working through associated emotions. Open expression of pain and emotions can foster healthy intimacy among relationships. Showing vulnerability can strengthen oneself and one’s relationships with others.

When we let emotions build and then cover them up with a positive attitude, it only clogs the soul. This past week, for the sake of protecting someone else’s emotions, I tried the “positive attitude” approach, but in doing so ignored the not-so-positive feelings altogehter; This only masked my truer, deeper feelings.  I finally allowed the heavier emotions to flow, and shared them with someone who remarked: “It is an honor to be trusted with someone else’s tears. It makes my own pain seem more significant.”

Fluidity

Both meditation and yoga practices teach the importance of fluid breathing to center one’s awareness. A few minutes of slow, cleansing breaths and focused inner awareness each day increases one’s capacity for mindful, intentional living. Through mindful living one can open up to embrace each emotion as it happens. Emotions are gateways to ascension if we allow them to be.

I listened to a beautiful guided meditation by Anara Kashna earlier today… she uses the word “allowing” again and again throughout her message. Allowing is key in developing fluidity in our lives — acceptance of the yin and yang… raising vibration through the developing harmony between our darkness and our light.

 

Wishing you all a beautiful week.

 

 

Purging = Love

Wow! After spending another weekend in the forest, I’ve been compelled to get rid of even more “belongings.” Attachment has been a theme this week, along with more discussions about intentional living.  The closet will be left with 5 pairs of pants, 5-10 long sleeved shirts/sweaters, 5 short sleeved shirts, a few “comfy” items for bed/yoga, and 10 – 15 dresses. A coworker just gifted me with a bag of shoes (we wear the same size) so it’s time to get rid of shoes, too. While I’m not totally where I want to be just yet,  I admitted to myself just this morning that there are still some little silly attachments I’ve needed to let go of.

Less Choices = More Time

Not only will a tiny wardrobe mean less time to think about what to wear to work, it will also mean more time to spend enjoying the morning hours — the most peaceful time of day! In truth, all anyone really needs is a clean outfit or two.

Attachment

That special dress to wear on that special occasion, those perfect shoes to have tucked away just incase… these things are just unnecessary attachments, taking up space in the home and in the mind. It feels so good to let go!

Charity

While many of us already do take items to our local charity after we’ve grown bored with them, it’s worth mentioning again, just in case you’re on one of those cleaning sprees where the trash can is more convenient. Giving clothes to charity is an act of love toward the Earth (recycling), helps those in need, and is a nice reminder that we have enough to go around. Local homeless shelters,  shelters for battered women/children, and local community centers are a few of the best places to donate your clothing items.

 

Happy purging!:)

 

Some Other Inspiring Articles on Getting Rid of Clothes

becomingminimalist.com – How to Let Go Of Clothes

The Very Small Closet – Learning to Let Go

The Minimalists – Less Clothes, More Routines

Good Job, Greenpeace

 

If you’d like to voice your opposition to the partnership between Shell and Lego, you can do so by clicking this link. There are lots of other ways to get involved through volunteer work and activism by registering on their site. Sometimes I stop and look around and wonder to myself: when will the act of doing these things to our Earth in the name of profit come to an end? Before 2009, I wasn’t very well educated on the reality of what is going on around us all. I was one of the apathetic crowd, and skeptical of “conspiracy theorists”. At that time, I was putting my faith into the religious beliefs I had been conditioned to follow most of my life, even though I was very opposed to many principles, it was my loyalty to the religion (and the fear of what others would say if I followed my own path) that kept me from opening myself to looking deeper into Truth. I’m almost embarrassed by my own course of logic back then, and it was emotional to move forward from it, but it is very important to discover for yourself what your morals, priorities, and actions will consist of in this life. I will no longer support economic growth at the expense of our Earth and personal wellbeing. It started to feel so uncomfortable and so unnatural to self-promote in order to provide for my son and I. Maximizing our own profits is the same exact thing as big businesses seeking to maximize theirs (while they destroy our ecosystems and societal stability), is it not? The more I learn, the more compelled I feel to speak out.

Here’s an article on CNET about the Lego-Shell deal.

Also check out Greenpeace’s Video.

Essay: Fidelity & Fragility

Inside the minds of most human beings lives the idea that a life-mate exists out there in the world. Some of us have found that person, some of us have not, and some of us do not believe in the concept at all. Love is the simplest, yet most complex of all emotions. So many factors go into what makes a relationship healthy, and as many factors go into why once-vibrant-romances become stagnant. I think about the movie March of the Penguins and am so moved by that level of commitment among wild birds in such extreme conditions. I’m equally moved by the idea of committing one’s life to spiritual growth and abstaining from a romantic partnership altogether. This is currently a period of self-exploration, reconsidering what fidelity means for me.  I know I’m fully committed to being a good mother, a good friend, learning and growing from my mistakes, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and other existential and spiritual specifics. But when it comes to romantic matters of the heart, I’m a little slow. There have been a couple of painful endings, but very necessary endings. Right now, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to take time determining which direction to go (as far as what it could mean to move toward a deeper long-term commitment, or what it could mean to remain romantically uninvolved… while continuing to surround myself with other meaningful pursuits).

Fully Blossoming

Most of us want to love, but sometimes we aren’t sure what we want to do with the love once it finds us. Sometimes both people don’t think through the emotion, but continue to follow the emotion simply because both enjoy the feelings and associated experiences.

Pleasant discussions with some very wise human beings have led me to the conclusion that romantic feelings can (potentially) be a terrible distraction: unless both parties have growth in mind, help one another achieve individual growth, and enhance one another’s contributions to The Greater Good. Certainly not the first time romance is being likened to distraction, but this expression feels different once it resonates within. It simply cannot be love if there are feelings of possessiveness, irrational jealousy, or desperation.  This extends further to friendship as well; it cannot be a true friendship if there are feelings of possessiveness, irrational jealousy, or desperation.

Universal Care

Studying Metta has helped me understand that it is more important to have the capacity to extend loving kindness to all beings, rather than to allow one’s capacity for loving to be stifled by looming pains of a romantic-relationship-gone-wrong. (Not to say that commitments won’t have their disruptions, but when romantic love distracts one from his or her full potential… this illustrates an unhealthy dysfunction in one or even both partners).

I’ve witnessed healthy relationships and have also witnessed highly dysfunctional relationships. I’ve also been part of each. The key for me personally has been focusing on the growth that takes place following loss, and not allowing the loss of any relationship to drown my ideals or aspirations.

Faithfulness

Faithfulness toward oneself is a pertinent characteristic for contribution to The Greater Good; commitment to The Greater Good is essential to bring one’s purpose to fruition. Combine the two, [faithfulness toward oneself + commitment to The Greater Good] and you’re on a path toward Enlightenment. The word Enlightenment is sometimes viewed as an absolute state of being. In the context of growth, my own definition of ‘enlightenment‘ would be:

ENLIGHTENMENT
the continuous evolution of pure awareness that facilitates growth, knowledge, and integrity to the degree that mind, body, spirit, and communication are each strengthened.

I don’t think it is possible to become perfectly Enlightened, but I do think it is possible to exist in a continuously Enlightened state where one is cognizant of  intention, choice, and growth (and even aware of the state of being aware). Deepak Chopra explains the higher self as separate from thought, emotion, and action; we can learn to be more intentional along our journeys simply by taking the time to observe ourselves. A romantic commitment or friendship that distracts from the development of faithfulness to one’s self-awareness will only cause both partners to stray from each’s truest purpose.

To Be Free

Whether alone, or committed to another soul, the quality of being free to pursue growth is essential to everyone’s happiness. Everyone on the Planet. If we aren’t working on becoming more virtuous, the rest of our experience turns fragile, and sometimes fragile enough to break. I feel very blessed to have such deep connections in my life that allow me to explore, discuss, and grow from these ideas. Thank you:)

Dez - July 15, 2014 - 5:57 pm

A friend and I were just discussing the dangers of believing in something just because you want it to be true and how it’s important to question everything including yourself and especially those in authority.this has been a life changer for me.

Michelle (Aurora) - July 16, 2014 - 10:45 am

Good for you, my friend <3

5,000 + Year Old Tree

 

This article over on Planet Permaculture made me smile this morning, as I paused to ponder the many seasons this tree has endured… the many people who may have taken shade beneath its branches. A pleasant, gentle reminder about endurance. Endings and new beginnings are inevitable, yet life endures. I hiked deep into a caved area yesterday and noticed that, even in pools as shallow as 12″, there was an abundance of water-life. Little fish just bursting with energy in the smallest, most hidden pools of water. Life just can’t contain itself here on the planet:)

Andrew Towell - July 14, 2014 - 4:18 pm

Thanks for sharing, you might also like the oldest apple in the world too:
http://planetpermaculture.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/bardsey-island-apple-rarest-apple-in-the-world/

Michelle (Aurora) - July 15, 2014 - 3:59 pm

Thanks, Andrew. Subscribed to your site!

Connections

Where I’ve been the last 2 days. New commitments in life are happening. This is a time of entirely new lessons that I didn’t even see coming… a time of strength and strengthening of bonds. The connection that happens in the mind and soul when the body comes together with Earth is so strong. This weekend, I experienced yoga looking down onto treetops as the sun came up. Forever changed, and feeling less and less distracted by the illusions currently surrounding us all. Incorporating yoga into my life has been a total game changer…

I’ve been working on a book of gratitude with someone very close to me the last month or so, and while we’ve talked about sharing it one day, I’m not sure sharing is always necessary. Sometimes sentiment is more important than that. I do want to share what I’ve learned from the experience of putting together this little handwritten book though… It’s the experiencing and the doing and all the things you learn along the way that speak the loudest.

dez - July 14, 2014 - 10:06 am

Love : )

Michelle (Aurora) - July 15, 2014 - 4:00 pm

Me too : )

Inner Awakening: Whole Brain Activation

Image by Mateu (Brazil based artist)

This week in the classroom at work, our team of hypnotists is educating clients about the benefits of whole brain activation, as opposed to left-brain vs. right-brain separation (or labeling oneself as one or the other). At our wellness center, we use Audio-Visual Entrainment to stimulate this process, in addition to hypnotic suggestions that merge both left and right brain approaches to change. Many people, even after just one session, report sensations of inspiration and increased awareness. Meditation, hypnosis, and focused awareness in general can help achieve whole brain activation, but routinely exercising the brain and increasing its capacity through intentional learning is what truly yields long-term benefits. (If any of my co-workers are reading this, you’ve been incredible in the classroom so far this week!)

 

Embrace Your Inner Genius

As soon as we begin to learn, we’re influenced by a left-brain-dominant society that teaches reliance on repetition, fact, and logic to achieve success. While using left-brain attributes  is important, merging the characteristics of both brain hemispheres is what helps us grow into a more enlightened state. The fusion of imagination and logic can be applied toward any intention. Tony Buzan identifies the following steps toward the achievement of whole brain activation:

  1. Recognize the potential of your brain
  2. Make your brain your hobby (read, go to the library, immerse yourself in what interests you!)
  3. Use both hemispheres of the brain
  4. Daydream BIG.
  5. Have the attitude that you can do anything

I would add three steps: 

  1. Commitment to daily focused awareness or spiritual practice (meditation, prayer, hypnosis/self-hypnosis, etc)
  2. Eat life-giving foods to get those fresh enzymes, vitamins, and minerals (raw fruits and vegetables)
  3. Spend time in nature regularly… experience oneness with the Universe : )

 

An Invitation to Self-Care

Making self-care a priority is sometimes mistaken as an act of selfishness. I speak with many clients who report that before joining one of our programs, they felt guilty about taking time out for themselves. The reality is, if we aspire to be effective in helping others or making contributions to the world (even in the smallest ways) it is important to care for yourself; It doesn’t mean that cultivating self-love is more important than loving others, but it is certainly of equal importance. Making the time to work through any barriers that you’ve built up in the past clears your heartspace, allowing the flower of self-love to blossom. (Tip: Regular chakra balancing can help as you move through the emotional process of letting go. There’s a really nice 7 minute tune-up I use regularly here). Maybe there are attachments to things that have been holding you back from experiencing your full spiritual, mental, and physical potential… but the moment you recognize what those attachments are, the process of growth has already begun!

 

Much love this Wednesday…

Michelle (Aurora)

Leon - July 18, 2014 - 7:23 am

Genuinely think people would be happier in general if they adopted even just a couple of the methods you listed. More and more people are being cut off and detached from nature. Watching a couple of generations (mine included), growing up on a cocktail of McDonalds and illuminous drinks makes me so so sad. It is hard to even mention nutrition and the importance of your surroundings to people these days as they either get immediately on the defensive or just listen and not do one single piece of research for themselves or their family.
Great post though and can only do good things with this blog so keep up the good work :)

Michelle (Aurora) - July 18, 2014 - 7:03 pm

Thanks for stopping by! Looking forward to checking out more of your work, too.

Michelle (Aurora) - July 18, 2014 - 7:08 pm

Also, Leon, I wanted to reply a bit more since I only saw half of the post on the blog admin panel. It’s so true, and at one point I was definitely getting sucked into the mirage. You really do have to intentionally place yourself in the surroundings you want in order to have the life nature intended. I’m really thankful we’ve connected. This is the beauty of following your inner Truth, it really does lead to connections with others who are doing the same.

Essay: Authenticity, Oppression, and Freedom

“If there is dispute, there is contention; if there is contention, there is trouble; if there is trouble, there is vexation.”
–The Buddha

A few years ago I remember feeling inspired and patriotic as I invested a great deal of time studying the issues at hand as the last presidential election approached. This year, watching the fireworks with family in my hometown, I felt distracted and uneasy.  I was thinking about the history of America and how different things could have been had greed been eliminated from the equation. We can no longer point fingers at just one person (a president). The problems in our country extend much further than just one man.

The subject of freedom seems to be recurring in some of my close relationships; some of my family members have moved away; one of my sister’s recent clients who just moved here referred to Columbus as a “cold, hard, city”; a friend from California who lived here [very temporarily] reported at a book club discussion that her 11 year old son was made fun of for wearing pink pants in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month; I’ve been getting to know the stories of others who have settled in other countries in pursuit of a more authentic lifestyle; another friend left the U.S. to pursue a simpler way of life (she married a Indonesian man). Perhaps we silently acknowledge the tension in America more than we choose to discuss it. And that’s okay. However, it really is important to discuss.

A History of Oppression

Greed led “settlers” to disregard the values and lifestyle of the American Natives (American Indians). The European’s forceful approach toward native peoples crushed the potential of forming successful, genuine relationships with them (generally speaking). Invasion of lands and forced assimilation was commonly executed during this time. This complete lack of respect prevented Europeans and Natives from sharing land and resources effectively.

First communications with the Natives went well; they were very generous and willing to share with Europeans upon their arrival. It is said they responded with “cautious hospitality and goodwill”. Natives were right to have followed those intuitions, and became less enthusiastic about trading after they had been mistreated.

Spanish soldiers arrived after surviving an “ill-fated expedition”. Natives took them in and contracted a fatal disease that killed half of them. Spaniards soon took advantage of the Natives’ hospitality and embarked upon a mission to find gold. They insisted that a forcible entry would take place unless the Natives accepted their church, King, and Queen.They proceeded with these demands and made Indians their gold mine slaves.

Champlain was an explorer from France who traveled with the Algonquins, Montagnais, and Hurons. They stumbled upon an Iroquois “war party” which ended in a bloody battle. The French tried to convert the Indians to their religion by trading precious metals with them. Many Natives did convert to Catholicism and even moved into French villages.

Half of the first English settlers in Jamestown died within the first year and did not seem to pose a threat to the Indians. John Smith befriended them to learn about their interactions with Spanish explorers and to use their strategies in dealings with the Natives himself. Soon Englishmen were seizing their corn and eventually a surprise attack was inflicted on the main village. Puritans tried converting Indians to Christianity in violent, oppressive ways much like the Spanish and the French.

A New Approach

Peaceful communities are often viewed as weak or easy to manipulate. Buddhists in peaceful Tibet and all they’ve endured — just another example. In our country, past defensiveness among Native Americans gave Europeans an outlet for the same kind of manipulation that is still happening today both directly and indirectly. Oppression is often carried out to convert or eliminate lifestyles and religions, often for financial gain. We see this in recent times with Monsanto, some believe it to be disguised in the new Healthcare Reform law, and there are plenty of other things we could dwell on. But hopelessness doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

We’ve had a good thing going in America for a little while, but we can’t forget all that’s happened before, nor can we deny what is happening now.

Instead of feeling hopeless, we can exercise our authenticity, illustrate the importance of our values, and address current issues through:

  • First, grounding our opinions, values, and ideas in full context, and engaging in discussion with other like-minded individuals
  • Willingness to say how we really feel
  • Volunteering / meeting others who are getting involved
  • Gaining insights from reliable sources (not just Googling for a few minutes and assuming everything that comes up is true).
  • Feeling driven to make a difference, and not just making a good point.
  • Not pushing issues onto others, but showing an example through actions + compassion
  • Being realistic. We can only make one effort at a time, but every effort counts. Even if it means moving to another country to be able to exercise your authenticity.
  • Being genuine. It will take you where you need to go:)

Other great references and links that inspired this article: 
First Peoples: A Documentary Survey of American Indian History, 4th Ed. (book)

Stop Monsanto

 How Can We Solve our Social Problems? (book)

Here’s a good discussion on Fighting With NonViolence.

Which Country Does the Most Good for The World? (video)