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)

Photography

Well, I stayed up a bit late tonight to organize and update my photography portfolio blogsite. I will keep an active stream going in the ‘recent work’ section of the photo site, and will continue sharing writing and other insights separately here [at escapetolight]. Sisters in the first ‘recent work’ feature are the daughters of a dear friend with whom I began a friendship back in 1996 — 18 years ago. (Yikes!) I don’t have a subscription feed up on the photography site yet, but I’ll be sure to post about it as soon as I do:)

Have a great weekend everyone.

 

xo

Michelle (Aurora)

The Land of the Free: Living off the Grid…. Illegal?

We’re healthier. We’re learning how to simplify. And we cannot be denied the right to do so.

Or can we? 

Not too far down the road from now, I have plans to make living off the grid a reality. With a few different options in place, I’ve gained a good deal of insight and inspiration from others who have already begun their self-sustained lifestyle. Intentional living / self-sustainability has truly been picking up over the years! I was fortunate to have been exposed, partly, to this lifestyle growing up in the forward-thinking, community-driven, environmentally-conscious little town of Athens, Ohio, and spent time at friends’ homes whose families were already living this way back in the early 90′s; skylights in almost every room to allow more natural light, beds built as mini-lofts to save space, and ladders in place of staircases to make smaller living spaces function more efficiently. As I’ve grown more serious about these plans for the future, I continue to research and educate myself on issues related to living off the grid. Some of the things happening in recent years are downright shocking. Yes, it is actually illegal now in Florida to “live off the grid” (click link for full article), and states are getting stricter on their zoning policies as the interest in self-sustainability continues to increase.

Well, we have faith in us. We will continue to  increase our capacity to create fuller, simpler, healthier lives. I celebrate those who have made this change, or are transitioning into a simpler lifestyle. Thank you. You inspire the rest of us! Happy Independence Day [early].

 

Here is a list of valuable links on the subject of sustainability / intentional living.

Going off the Grid: Why It’s Good For You
http://annamcohen.com/2014/05/20/going-off-the-grid-why-its-good-for-you/

Solar Cooking
https://www.solarcookers.org/
http://pedalpapasacto.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/solar-cooking-yet-another-way-to-cut-you-carbon-footprint/

Costa Rica’s Eco-Village
http://sustainablelivingincostarica.com/2014/06/17/affordable-tiny-houses-now-offered-at-osa-mountain-eco-village-serenity-gardens-eco-village/

Living Income Guaranteed
http://livingincome.me/wiki/The_Living_Income_Guaranteed_Proposal 

Living off the Grid Can Be Illegal
http://michiganradio.org/post/living-grid-can-be-illegal 

Single Mom Builds Off-Grid Lakeside Cabin Near Columbus, Ohio
http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/tag/off-grid/  

Do You Live in a Constitution Free Zone? 
http://www.offthegridnews.com/2013/08/24/do-you-live-in-a-constitution-free-zone-many-americans-do/ 

Ultimate Off the Grid Guides
http://www.simplesolarhomesteading.com/ 

Free Campsites in the USA
http://freecampsites.net/usa/ 

“Workamping” Opportunities
http://www.work-camping.com/
http://www.workamper.com/
http://www.camphost.org/ 

 Government Steals Couple’s Private Backcountry Land & Cabin
http://offgridsurvival.com/government-steals-private-backcountry-land/

Activist Post: New Study Promotes Agenda 21-Style “Land Grabs”
http://www.activistpost.com/2014/06/new-study-promotes-agenda-21-style-land.html 

“Future Earth” 
http://www.thedailysheeple.com/future-earth-re-branding-agenda-21-for-environmental-control_062014

 Canary Island the First In World to be Powered by Just Wind and Water
http://planetpermaculture.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/canary-island-the-first-in-world-to-be-powered-by-just-wind-and-water/ 

 

 

 

exploration

A visit to Sheldon Church Ruins, SC. © 2012

 

Change of scenery offers inspiration to further explore the scenery of Soul within.
Click here for more info on this landmark. 

meal simplicity: presence

 

For a more spiritual meal experience: simplify. This is one small [yet powerful] change I’ve made along the course of simplifying life that lends an opportunity to actually taste gratitude. Try bringing meals into your meditation space and dining quietly, with the focus on gratitude toward nature, nutrients, and nourishment. You’ll find yourself more aware of the body’s “I’M FULL NOW’ radar. This practice also helps you feel more satisfied and can, at times, become an altogether enlightening experience. Developing a structured, healthy routine that incorporates a fair amount of raw, life-giving foods is directly connected to mental and emotional stability/maturity, in addition to physical vitality.

Other dietary changes I’ve made in the past year include:
  • abstinence from alcohol
  • no more daily coffee
  • transitioning to an Ayurvedic routine
  • proper hydration, 60-90oz H20 daily. [24-36oz upon waking, then waiting at least 30 minutes before breakfast]

 

 

Dezy - June 28, 2014 - 9:34 pm

hi : ) So I tried Basil Lemon water yesterday and it is so yummy and good for you. I could practically feel the nutrients coursing through my body. even though I have your personal cell (from facebbok) and wanted to send you a pic I just wasn’t sure if that was okay but anyways it’s really good! Have you tried it ? The only thing I would add is honey. I love how aware you are.

Michelle (Aurora) - June 29, 2014 - 7:56 am

Hey, Dez! I haven’t tried it with basil, but that sounds wonderful! The combination sounds interesting, nature is amazing. I’d love to see a photo! Hope you’re well :)

How to Deal With Negative People Who Sabotage Your Life Passion Pursuit

 

Just thought I’d share this article as I’ve been reading on the subject. Valuable, easy read. Photo above is from a conceptual session back in 2009.

To quote a section from the article:

So how do you stop the negativity and get them on board?

Here are two types of naysayers you may encounter:

The first group is people who are going to be negative and attempt to sabotage your efforts or your self-confidence about your passion, no matter what. These are people who . . .

  • think they know best what is right for you;
  • feel deeply threatened by positive change in other people;
  • simply enjoy making others feel bad or insecure (this, oddly enough, allows them to feel better about themselves).

There is only one thing to do with these people:  Avoid them completely.

If that isn’t possible, limit your exposure to them and try to curtail any conversations around your life passion pursuit. If this person happens to be your spouse, then it’s time to get some professional counseling to help you both navigate through your changes and their reactions. (This is marriage-ruining stuff if not addressed in a healthy, proactive way.)

_____

Healthy relationships demand that you involve the people whose lives are closely intertwined with yours. You need to share your life passion plans with them, particularly your spouse and children, so that they feel safe and included.

Tina - June 27, 2014 - 10:17 pm

“Avoid them completely.” Yeap!

Dino Celestino - June 28, 2014 - 12:16 am

Great post. Good one to share. Hope you’re doing well.

Michelle (Aurora) - June 28, 2014 - 10:05 am

The bottom line is: trust is earned, and friendship is not something that can be demanded. I feel very blessed to have such an intimate bond with a few beautiful souls, and it’s all I need <3

Dino, great to hear from you! I hope you're well, as well :) I'm doing fantastic!

On the Human Being

 

 

We are all valid, beautiful souls. Something that keeps popping up in life is the concept of stigmas. Let’s just take a moment to look at the definition of the word:

 

stig·ma
ˈstigmə
noun
plural noun: stigmas
  1. 1.
    a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.
    “the stigma of mental disorder”

 

The masses become immersed in false paradigms of “what should be”… and while we have moved through history often forgetting about how magnificent it is to simply exist, I feel the shift happening. It becomes obvious when real transformation is occurring; we observe synchronicity happening around us, people come into our lives (seemingly) out of nowhere that share our worldview, doors start opening and we find ourselves in new situations that challenge our integrity and shift our consciousness. Self-awareness increases, peacefulness is felt. This is what is possible when we let go of the stigmas and open our hearts completely.

It is discouraging to witness some of the same stagnant patterns happening over and over again throughout history — prejudice, greed-based war, social expectation… the list goes on. These things stifle our ability to operate in alignment with a Higher Purpose. We only move away from serving others and move into egoism if we continue to follow these practices that promote separation and unhealthy competition.

There is one thing we are always responsible for, and that is: choice. We transform when we begin to practice separating the Higher Self from thoughts, behaviors, and perceptions that occur in the mind. We can move into the bird’s-eye-view of our Higher Self and transcend our experiences by learning to choose what we want to think, do, and feel.

Until we commit to some level of inner work, to give ourselves permission to shed the tears, to admit to where we’ve fallen short… we can never learn how to properly care for ourselves, and so care for others.  This includes developing deep respect for all people. This requires letting go of assumptions about others regardless of their past or present situations. We can never know what someone is going through, has gone through, or will go through. So, the more we care for ourselves the more we can open ourselves to genuine care and kindness toward all beings. A step forward in seeing the true beauty of others. A step closer to truly serving. Anything or anyone who doesn’t support this… respectfully dismiss and move forward indefinitely. Be the example.

It’s just that time now… to move away from idolizing people for their ability to express talents, for their looks/bodies, or for their social/social media status ["popularity, career, etc"].

Further, there is no mental or physical condition that invalidates one’s existential Universal significance.

 

 

Dezy - June 27, 2014 - 7:57 am

<3

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