Category: Uncategorized

Dharma Path – Transcript – April 2, 2019, #6

April 2, 2019 Tuesday Dharma Path Class
Working with Chakras; Guided Chakra Exercises

Barbara: We have a sense of where you are with the practices we’ve been doing. I want to start with some time for questions. Aaron will incorporate when needed. Do you have questions about the homework you’ve been doing? I know that some of you are not getting the light practices, and some of you are, and that’s okay. No practice is meant for everybody. Aaron is going to bring some new things in tonight that he thinks will help. Read more

Dharma Path – Transcript – April 16, 2019, #7

April 16, 2019 Tuesday Evening, Dharma Path Class
Pure Awareness Instruction; Skandhas; Discussion: Do We Need Eyes Open to Do Pure Awareness?; Introduction to Working with the Elements; Q&A on Chakras

Barbara: I’m going to assume it would be beneficial for you to hear basic instructions again, even if you’ve done it before. People seem to be away, out enjoying spring. Meditating under the trees, I hope. Read more

Dharma Path Transcript – March 19, 2019, Class #5

March 19, 2019 Tuesday Evening, Dharma Path Class
“Floating Non-Duality”; Q&A on Clear Light

Barbara: A number of people, both in the small group meetings and by email, said they sort of get this light practice, they sort of don’t. They’re wondering what the reason for it is. I’m kind of quoting people, “Are we expected to just walk around in a cloud of light all the time?” — It would be nice! Read more

One Year Anniversary of Sunday Online Meditation

The One Year Anniversary of WHAT?
by Celeste Zygmont
DSC newsletter, Aug. 7, 2018

My name is Celeste Zygmont, and I’m living way out here near Austin, Texas (Deep Spring Center is located in Ann Arbor, MI). It’s been 105 degrees (Fahrenheit!) the past few days. You can’t touch the metal of cars with your hand, and you can’t walk barefoot on the street. Who would have thought I’d end up here? Not me, but here I am.

I met Deep Spring Center for Meditation and Spirituality in the early ‘90s and right away knew I wanted more. Aaron would give his talks, and something inside of me would say, “I know this.” But search as I might through my own memories, I could find nothing related to what I was hearing. So listen I did and practiced and started going to retreats. It’s been an adventuresome road through life and into mind, continually re-applying the teachings I’ve learned these past 25 years.

So now I’m in Texas. Although I go on weeklong retreats twice a year, I yearn for my Deep Spring Sangha to be closer. But how? Then one day I was at a Deep Spring Board meeting. We were all gathered together through the online conferencing program called Zoom. That’s when it hit me. What if we had an online meditation group and meditated using Zoom every Sunday morning?!

I got help setting it up, and – Shazam! – the first-ever Sunday Online Meditation was born. I am happy to announce that this first online meditation took place one year ago. Since then, we’ve met week after week. And now it’s been one year, one year of my heart feeling humanly connected to my dear ones all over the U.S. and sometimes even farther.

We chant and feel the togetherness of our energies. I like reaching out, way out, energetically, and offering any benefit that might come as a result of our meditation to be for the good of all beings. Ah. Then we begin an hour of meditation. Except for meditation at retreats, it’s the deepest meditation I know. For the most part, my family respects this time.

Over the course of this year, it has worked out that a core group of us has formed to meditate this way. We represent the states of Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. What a bond we’ve created between us, just by silently meditating together. We all look forward to it each week. And we say goodbye with smiles and warm hearts.

Now here’s the good part. You are invited to meditate, too! How beneficial it can be for you. Imagine the growth of the heart that is possible! Especially if you feel isolated where you live, please consider committing to this heart time with us.

To sign up, go to the Deep Spring website on the Sunday Online Meditation page. Or try this link: https://www.deepspring.org/sunday-online-meditation-from-anywhere. Thank you so very much. I look forward to meditating with you soon!

Lovingly,
Celeste

Rudolph Steiner House, Ann Arbor, MI

DSC teacher Dorothyann shares her thoughts about the 2018 March retreat

Please consider a donation (suggested donation $5-$10) to support these transcripts.

Deep Spring Center’s annual March Retreat with basic instruction in Vipassana Meditation was held at the Steiner House in Ann Arbor this year.

The event drew seventeen folks from all directions. Responding to our online promotion, they came from Traverse City, Cadillac, Alpena, Midland, Grand Blanc, Sterling Heights, Pinckney, Westland, Toledo, Dayton to join local Ann Arbor retreatants in a weekend exploring the four foundations of mindfulness as well as the four noble truths of Buddhist teaching. Read more

Davy Rothbart – Facebook entry about his dad Hal Rothbart

Davy Rothbart from his facebook page about his dad’s major stroke. Hal Rothbart is at the Neuro ICU University of Michigan Hospital. Posted: Mon., Feb. 26, 2018.

Hi friends and loved ones: As you may know, my Dad Hal Rothbart had a major stroke early Friday morning and is in the Neuro ICU at University of Michigan Hospital. I’ve been here with my family and some close family friends the past 3 days. While even small degrees of recovery from a stroke of this magnitude are very rare, my Dad has a uniquely vital spirit and has always been one to live life outside the box, and we are remaining hopeful and optimistic. He has shown some small but meaningful signs of progress, and while he can’t really communicate, he has occasional moments of semi-awareness, where he seems to understand our presence and be able to absorb some of our words. So, here’s where you all come in — whether you know my Dad or not… Two options below!

So many of you have met my Dad or know him well, and I know it means a lot to him to have so many people thinking about him. I would love for you to share a story about my Dad with me — and with him. I will read as many of these to him as I can. Could be a sentence, a paragraph, or a page — a small moment, a great memory, general good wishes, anything at all. Leave it in the comments below so that others can also appreciate your words, or feel free to email or FB message it to me privately. His condition, while severe, is stable for now, so feel free to share a quick message now or something longer in the next few days if you’d like to gather your thoughts first. Or both! CRUCIAL: Please address any reminiscences in the 2nd person, directly to my dad. Like: “I remember that time when you…” Imagine you are in the room with him and talking to him yourself. The idea is that I’ll tell him who’s writing to him and then read your message/story for him.

For the other portion of you who have maybe never met my Dad, I am seeking personal stories of people overcoming great odds and triumphing in some way. Maybe you, your friend, or someone you heard about who was told that something was next-to-impossible, highly unlikely, but they found a way to do it anyway. Could be a health battle, a creative pursuit, a social justice campaign, something from sports, politics, or anything at all, no matter how large or small the challenge. These stories are motivating, encouraging, and inspiring, and I plan to share some of these with my Dad as well… whatever you’d like to share here.

Thank you so much for participating, it really means a lot. And we are all so grateful for all of the loving texts, FB messages, emails, and calls these past couple days — and all of the generous local support as well, including the elite and empathetic doctors, nurses, and staff at U. of M. Hospital.

You can see much more detailed updates about my Dad’s evolving condition on my brother Mike Forster Rothbart‘s Facebook page, so if you’re interested please send him a friend request or stay tuned to his feed.

I’ll post again in the coming days, I’m sure. Love to all of you, and especially to my Dad, a true O.G. and an amazing father.

Hal Rothbart – Barbara Brodsky’s husband suffering from a brain hemorrage

Please visit this site for continuing updates: https://www.caringbridge.org/public/halrothbart
This blog will no longer be updated, Sun., March 11, 2018.
 
Created Sunday, February 25, 2018; updated Thursday, March 8 at 10 am eastern
Hal Rothbart, Barbara Brodsky’s husband suffered from a stroke (brain hemorrage) Thursday (Feb. 22, 2018) night and is now in intensive care at the University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. Following is the information available. I will be sending out the link to this blog post and update here for people to read. Inviting healing and calming energy to Hal Rothbart, his family and all those caring for and about him.
Tana Dean, Managing Director, DSC

From Mike Forster Rothbart – My mom and Aaron makes these specific requests about what to do now:
 
Dear friends, remember that while the stroke and bleeding did cause damage, further inflammation can be  temporary, caused by the stroke and bleeding. We release this inflammation and invite the clear tissue to return. The most important gift you can give is to offer a very gentle calming energy. Always inviting, healing, never grasping at it. Picture his brain like a small baby that was deeply frightened by a loud noise. Picture how you would hold and quiet that baby, inviting it to release its fear and find its calm center. In this way picture his brain releasing the inflammation and returning to its natural state. 

We know that cells can regenerate. The time for that has not come yet. The first step is to invite the brain to release the trauma it has experienced by calming and loving it. When that is done, in a few days, we’ll look at the next step.
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Video:

https://www.facebook.com/mfrphoto/videos/10107958929692977/

March 8 am
Update on my dad: @Hal Rothbart — Day 14 morning

It’s hard to keep an even keel while bouncing on a trampoline. My dad is back in the ICU.

Last night about 9 pm, I was washing a stack of dishes, Peter was watching Jumanji and mom was getting into bed when Davy called from the hospital.

See, yesterday afternoon Dr. Morgan replaced dad’s trach tube in preparation for his departure. He explained to me that—oddly—it is a supply issue: the trach tubes that the hospital prefers are hard to find, so they swap them out for another more common brand when patients are leaving.

Around 8 pm, dad started having trouble breathing. A medical technician noticed him inhaling through his mouth, which should not be possible with a cuffed trach. They discovered that the new trach tube was not positioned correctly. As Davy watched, 3 doctors and 2 nurses soon crowded around the bed as they yanked the tube out of the small hole in his esophagus and urgently tried to replace it.

Afterwards, one of the doctors debriefed Davy and reassured him. “It probably looked worse than it was,” he said, but then admitted he could not remember a time when they had replaced a trach tube out on the ward rather than in an ICU sterile room.

The first days in the hospital we were riding every high and low like this. Oh no, I would think, he is not responding to our voices, is he dying? Then eventually I’d realize that he was just sleepy. Over the weeks I’ve got more inured to the ups and downs. “Alarm fatigue,” one nurse told me, “when alarms start going off and you don’t even notice them anymore.”

Nevertheless, tonight feels like a step back. I cried a bit when I got off the phone with Davy.

He’s back in the ICU ®

You don’t know how lucky you are boy.

As far as we know, he’ll be staying there all day.

Michael Forster Rothbart

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March 7, 8 pm

Update on my dad: @Hal Rothbart — Day 13 evening

Here is a video of my mom and dad together yesterday. I was crying while I watched them together.

https://www.facebook.com/mfrphoto/videos/10107957621065477/

SO! The hospital is kicking my dad out. They believe he has recovered enough to move to a Long-Term Acute Care facility. If all goes well, tomorrow at 10 am he will hail an ambulance and roll across town to Select Specialty Hospital, a private for-profit ICU located inside St. Joseph’s hospital.

There is a fascinating story behind why he is moving, involving managed care, Medicare and miscommunication between departments in the hospital. I’ll share this all if and when I get a chance. However, we toured the Select ward today and it looks adequate. Not as wonderful as the U of M Neurology ICU, but it will do. We can expect my dad to be there for about 4 weeks.

For those who want to visit: Follow signs to St. Jo’s Main Entrance (Lot B). From the cental lobby take the elevator to 7th floor North. You’ll see signs for Select, and walk down the hall to the nurses’ station.

Look for new volunteer information tomorrow.  Thanks.

Mike

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Written by Davy March 6

Update on my dad: @Hal Rothbart — Day 12 morning

Last night Davy was at the hospital at midnight. Here is his report.

Hi all,

Good news — My dad “graduated” from the Neuro ICU tonight and moved down the hall to Unit 4A. Thank you so much to all who have helped him survive the most dangerous moments of this past week and reach a new point in his healing. Your generous presence has made a huge difference to him — and to us. I’m deeply grateful.

Just wanted to give everyone a heads-up since I know some of you have visits planned this week. Although he’s off the ICU, continuing to have guests, loving energy, and interactivity is the best way for him to continue his recovery, especially as he will have less company of nurses and doctors on this new wing. Let’s keep giving him love!

You can just drop by or you can sign up for a time to visit here: https://doodle.com/poll/72bw7bvtizhufphg

His new room is #A-4111. It’s not far from the ICU, and if you end up in the ICU, they’ll point you here. Instead of taking Elevator 2, you now take Elevator 3, UH-East elevator. Still on floor 4. Emerge from elevator, take a right and continue onto the wing. At first main cross-hall, take a right, and go down maybe 100 feet, you will see #4111 on the right. He has his own room with a view, and even his own bathroom.

It’s good for him to have auditory, visual and physical stimuli. You may want to talk to him, read to him, or sing to him yourself. I’ve also brought some of my Dad’s favorite CDs and a little boombox on his bedside table. No pressure to have music running nonstop, but feel free to play some of the Broadway soundtracks or other fun CDs for sing-alongs, if he’s awake, or something quieter and more restful if he’s asleep. When I leave, I usually put on something soothing at a low volume, to run for a while after I’m gone…

Feel free to hold his hand or give him some light massage. He’s also had some swelling in his right hand, so elevating it slightly and rubbing it to encourage circulation is great, especially if he’s already awake. As always, be sure to wash hands or use hand sanitizer when entering (there’s plenty of it in the room), and if you’ve got a cold or flu, best to stay away ’til you’re feeling better.

Let us know if anyone has any questions — and thanks again so much for all of the incredible generosity all of you have shown these past 12 days to my Dad and our whole family!

Love, Davy

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March 5, 11 pm

Update on my dad: @Hal Rothbart — Day 11 evening

Here’s my dad’s to-do list from the week before his stroke: He was working on a second print run of my mom’s book, “deposit Casa book money,” doing things for all three of his sons “do mailings, write up projects” and wanted to go to the gym every day. He worked on a play about Flint. He planned a classic movie night for his new neighbors and deliberated about what movie to show. West Side Story? Terms of Endearment?

The movie night was cancelled. It was scheduled for Saturday night, the day after he had his stroke. He’s been in the ICU for 11 days now, but he’ll be moving any time to the general care neurology ward. During morning rounds, the head doctor told me today that there is not much more they can do for him in the ICU. Now we just need to wait and see how he recovers.

We were in the hospital for 5 hours this morning and early afternoon. Dad slept almost the whole time—he even slept through his occupational therapy. Laura the OT taught me how to move his arms up and down and rotate his wrists and elbows while he snored away. He has settled into a schedule of being more wakeful from 5 am to 9 am and then again from 3 pm to 10 pm or even later. Meanwhile, the rest of us have settled into our own wacky schedules, sleeping from 1 or 2 am until 7 am. Last night mom couldn’t sleep because of stress and a chattering monkey mind and she got up to do more email at 3 in the morning.

In the ICU, dad had a steady stream of visitors, though he generally slept through them. The doc, the physical therapist, the occupational therapist, the Medicaid expert, the med tech, the respiratory nurse, the rabbi and the janitor all came to call. It sounds like the beginning of a joke…. We learned a lot. Then three friends came to sit with him for a couple hours each.

It was actually Ken, the janitor, who tipped me off about how soon they may move dad. I befriended Ken as he came in and out of the room, because that is something my dad would do were he not laying inert. “See how his nametag got pulled over to the side [on the board]??” Ken asked. That means he may move down the hall as soon as a bed opens up. The “G/C” written up alongside his name means that he won’t get moved to the stroke unit, he’ll go to general 4a ward instead.

Mike Forster Rothbart

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Evening, Sunday, March 4 

Update on my dad: @Hal Rothbart — Day 10 evening 

Every piece of good news is also bad, and I can’t tell up from down anymore. It turns out that my mom and Davy are the family optimists, while Peter and I are more skeptical that any behavior we see dad attempt has any real significance. The big question is: how much is he still in there? Do any of the motions he makes demonstrate conscious thought or are they just autonomic? Is he responding to our stimuli or is he just moving?

This morning he was quite alert. Mom talked to him awhile and when she stepped away, he lifted his head and turned. I’d like to say he turned his head to keep watching her, but all I can say for sure is that he lifted his head for a few seconds.

This afternoon he mostly slept. During one awake period, he was scratching at his nose. I held up a tissue and encouraged him to blow his nose. He took the tissue in his hand but just held it. Mom took a second tissue and mimed blowing her nose, asking him to try it. He lifted the tissue up as high as his throat then let it drop. I wish I believed he was thinking “For god’s sake, Barbara, I don’t feel like blowing my damn nose. Stop babying me!” But realistically at best, he’s thinking “face—voice—woman. Who?,” if he’s even thinking at all.

Today dad’s lungs improved, and he mostly stopped coughing up blood. Tomorrow the doctors will consider moving him off the ICU to the Neurology unit. Tomorrow the physical therapist wants to try sitting him up. Tomorrow the hospital billing office wants to meet with us to discuss options after discharge. Depending on his recovery rate, he might move to an LTAC facility — longterm acute care — for two to three weeks, or go directly to sub-acute rehab (a medical facility inside a nursing home) for six to ten weeks. After that we can only guess what he’ll need, probably a nursing home. The going rate in Michigan for the kind of medical facility he’ll need is $100,000 per year or more. It scares my mom to think about what will happen.

One problem is that my parents’ finances are a mess. Any system of organizing it was mostly in my dad’s head. This feels like when your hard drive gets corrupted and you lose the document you were working on that you were sure you’d saved. Except the document in question here is my parents’ retirement plan.

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Sun., March 4, 2018
Update on my dad: @Hal Rothbart — Day 9 evening

Dad spent more time asleep today than awake, but he seemed to sleep soundly, an hour or two at a time, and when he awoke he was often alert for a few minutes.

Brock (dad’s nurse today), Davy and I tried to get dad to respond to directions. (See video).

 [NOTE to email list: you should be able to follow this link even if you don’t use Facebook].

We tried a lot of different commands — wiggle your foot, raise your thumb, close your eyes, open your eyes, turn your head. Dad looked like he was listening to us. Brock showed us how to mime a gesture, touch the relevant body part and speak to dad, so that he would get related stimuli from three different senses. And sometimes he did respond — on average, once per five times. A 20% response rate is higher than he’s had since Day 2, though it is not always clear if he is following a request or just moving. Dad tires easily, so after a few minutes of Simon Says we play music or sing or talk to him.

So that’s the good news. The bad news is that dad continues to cough up lots of blood and mucus. There’s a lot of fluid in his lungs, and this pneumonia is the main factor keeping him in the ICU at this point. Originally they hoped to move him down the hall today, but the staff still need to suction his esophagus every 30 to 60 minutes. They feed a foot-long skinny rubber tube through the hole in his trachae and down his throat. Dad’s face turns red as he gags and coughs up blood. It looks almost as unpleasant to me as a standard catheter.

But I am so impressed with the ICU staff. Today I watched Brock wipe dad’s butt, change his soiled sheets, rotate him, suction his throat, and still have energy left to engage him in conversation. They are dedicated and it’s clear they really care. This makes me nervous about what will happen to dad when he leaves here.

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March 2, 11 pm
Update on my dad: @Hal Rothbart — Day 8

This morning, dad was the most awake and active I’ve seen him since the stroke. For three hours he had his eyes more open than closed (perhaps 60/40), moving his left arm and leg frequently. For the first time, the movement looked purposeful. He’d lift his arm to stroke his beard, or grab his hospital gown. He reclined in bed and looked around at sounds. I played Broadway show tunes for him and he appeared to be listening.

  This video clip gives a sense of how he looks and moves. [NOTE to email list: you should be able to follow this link even if you don’t use Facebook].

  As we sat with dad, I talked with Brock—his nurse for today—about levels of consciousness. “At the basic level,” Brock told me, “a person just has vague unfocused movements,” like withdrawing from physical pain. At the next level, someone will respond to stimuli such as sounds or light or touch, but there are still no signs of conscious thought. “You can hold someone’s hand and say ‘squeeze my hand,’ but are they actually following your command or just responding to the sensation of touch?,” Brock asked. What the doctors really look for are ways to determine comprehension and conscious response, such as telling a patient to hold two fingers in the air. “If you say that and they lift two fingers, you know they are listening—that won’t happen by accident.”

  While we talked, we watched dad lift his arm over his head and stare at the IV lines attached to his wrist, as if trying to figure out what they were. Like a baby staring at toys dangling over the crib.

  Progess? Definitely. Part of an upward trend? It’s too soon to tell.

  So I’m celebrating the small things. It is tragically less than the vigorous man I talked to 10 days ago, but such an improvement over the passive patient I saw last Friday. When he first arrived at the ICU, the doctors gave him a low chance for survival, and now they are talking to us about planning for nursing homes.

  After 9 hours at the hospital, mom and I headed home. Davy and Peter came after lunch and stayed into the evening.

  Davy just now told me that dad has been “super awake with me the past 90 minutes. We listened and I sang to all of Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack and half of West Side story. Both his eyes are tracking together and he even seemed to follow some commands with wiggling his thumb, although it’s always hard to tell. Definitely the most alert I’ve seen him though, after a sluggish afternoon and early evening.”

And tomorrow is another day.

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From Mike Rothbart, March 1; 5:10 pm:

CALL for Volunteers to help my Dad and Mom:

Since my dad @Hal Rothbart had a major stroke last week, we’ve received so many offers to help. We’re so grateful! Now we’re getting organized enough to plan what we need. Here are our 4 major requests:

  1. Sitting with Hal:

We created a schedule for people to keep Hal company while he’s in the ICU. Please sign up for a two-hour block. (You’re also welcome to drop by for a bit, but planned visits are more useful).

Sign up for times through March 9 here: https://doodle.com/poll/72bw7bvtizhufphg

Those with bodywork training have been coming to do work on him. If you have questions or none of the listed times work, contact visitor coordinator Beth Mulder at [email protected].

2. Supporting Barbara and her family.

Barbara and her family will need emotional, physical and practical support. This will include meals, massages, some errands and brief physical tasks at Barbara’s house, and helping Barbara organize living in her home without Hal there.

Soon we will start a volunteer sign-up using www.caringbridge.orgWe will notify you when this is available can also contact volunteer coordinator Ann Thomas at [email protected] with offers. (Note if you offered to help before, it may have gotten lost in the chaos, so please let us know again.)

3. Collecting stories of inspiration.

Davy has been gathering stories and reading them to Hal. See more details here: www.facebook.com/davy.rothbart/posts/1799111850113238 . You can send stories to Davy at [email protected].

4. Sending your prayers and healing energy our way. We have two scheduled times each day for focused meditation for healing, in person and from afar, at 10 am and 8 pm EST. (And obviously your prayers are welcome anytime!) Look for more specific instructions at www.facebook.com/mfrphoto.

We are posting updates daily at www.facebook.com/mfrphoto and www.deepspring.org/hal-rothbart/. If you don’t use Facebook and would like to get updates by email, send a request to [email protected].

  Thanks all!

Mike Forster Rothbart
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March 1, 11 pm
Update on my dad: @Hal Rothbart — Day 7 evening

This morning dad was alert around 5 am, according to today’s nurse, Charlotte, and neurosurgeon Larry Morgan. They used the ceiling-mounted lift to raise him out of bed and transfer him to a giant hospital barcalounger by the window. He sat there until it was time to leave for surgery. It’s good for his body to get propped in different positions, Charlotte said.

It was a quiet afternoon in the hospital. Dad mostly slept while he recovered from this morning’s PEG tube operation. He woke up for 40 minutes and was looking around while I held his hand and talked to him. I discussed the weather (wet sleet, blowing horizontally), the names of the nurses and the bagel I had for lunch. Every few minutes I reminded him where he was and why.

It’s hard for me to talk for a long time to someone who is unresponsive, so I gave myself breaks by playing 80s rock on the radio. He looked briefly interested each time a new song came on. Michael Jackson: “I’m talking bout the man in the mirror. I’m askin him to change his way-ay-ays.” Air Supply: “Here I am, the one that you love. Askin’ for another day.”

When I say he woke up, I want to make sure you understand: the difference is subtle. Like the distinction between being half-awake and half-asleep. He groggily looks around a minute and sometimes his left eye focuses. Then he drifts. His left arm moves up as he idly tries to grasp his air tube. But often it looks less intentional than like someone turning in his sleep.

Until today, his left wrist was frequently tied down to prevent him from yanking out his feeding tube whenever he gagged on it. Now his hand is free, since there is nothing critical he can pull. The hose just has humidified air with extra oxyen, blowing gently past his new breathing hole. Anyway, Dr. Morgan doubts he has the dexterity to really pull it yet.

Davy and Peter came to watch the Michigan game with him. The two of them kept jumping out of their seats as Michigan blew shot after shot and the refs made bad calls. Dad looked, at best, mildly puzzled as his eye passed over the screen. Other times he appeared oblivious or asleep. Michigan won in OT but dad was unaware.

Even though it is not clear how much is getting through, it will be important for the next six weeks to give him as much stimulation as possible. The neurons will be re-establishing broken connections around the damaged area. The period of most likely recovery begins now.

Unfortunately, there’s only one thing right now to which he consistently gives a clear response: physical pain. Gagging and grimacing when a nurse siphons out his throat with a long tube. Pulling his hand away when a nurse squeezes a pressure point.

He does sometimes respond to other stimula but it is inconsistent. Davy is there now, and just reported that Jim, the night nurse, got dad to lift his left foot on command this evening. If we can get him to start following such commands, we’ll really be able to make progress. But it’s hard to track: every hour is different.

We’re still looking for volunteers to come sit with Hal. Sign up here: https://doodle.com/poll/72bw7bvtizhufphg

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February 28, 2018 | Mike Forster Rothbart
Update on my dad: @Hal Rothbart — Day 6 morning.

Today dad is getting a tracheostomy, minor surgery creating a small hole in his windpipe, to provide an alternative airway for breathing. Until now he’s had a breathing tube. Although he has been breathing mostly on his own for 48 hours, they can’t extubate him (Word of the Day: extubate: to take the tube out. Opposite of intubate!) unless he becomes more alert. Otherwise there is a danger of swallowing fluids or his tongue and choking.

We hoped to see him more awake and responsive yesterday so that the surgery would not be necessary. However, he instead seemed sleepy most of the day. In earlier days, he would move his foot or squeeze a hand when asked to do so. Yesterday he rarely did, and often closed his eyes to drift back to sleep in the middle of our talking to him.

It feels counterintuitive to me, but this surgery is actually less invasive than the breathing tube he has stuck in there now. It looks extremely unpleasant every time he gags and coughs from it. Worse, the tube opens him up to infection. He already has minor pneumonia in his lungs and was running a fever up to 102. The “trache” will give him more time to recover at his own pace. Choosing this operation was the first major decision point for the family. There will be others.

The surgery is scheduled for approximately 11 am to 1 pm. If possible I’ll post a quick note when it starts.

We’ve had so many offers to help, we are so grateful! But we have not had any good way to organize people. Until now. We’re very happy to introduce Hal’s ICU volunteer coordinator, Beth Mulder, @beth.kollinmulder. Look for an email or post here soon about coming to sit with Hal and helping Barbara with some small household tasks.

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Davy Rothbart facebook post, Mon., Feb. 26, 2018

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Update on my dad Hal Rothbart – Day 4 morning, Feb. 27, 2018

Good morning friends. Thank you. We could not do this without you. Amazing to come home after a day at the hospital and find a surprise dinner hanging from the doorknob. I always thought my dad had many acquaintances and no close friends, but I realize I was wrong. He touched people wherever he went.

Three days ago in upstate New York we had freezing rain overnight. When I woke, the trees on the ridge all glistened like a million chandeliers. I thought about going up the mountain to take photos. Maybe next time? No one knew it yet, but my dad was already laying unconscious on his kitchen floor. And so here I am in A2, learning more than I ever wanted to know about strokes.

Yesterday we had a long meeting with the head neurologist and dad’s neurosurgeon. They gave us useful background about hemorrhagic strokes. There are six common causes, and figuring out the cause will help them treat it. Two CAT scans gave them information about the size and location of the bleed, and last night’s MRI will tell them more details.

We’re just waiting for the MRI results now.

Hemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures. It can be from an aneurysm (a weak spot in the blood vessel), an AVM (arteriovenous malformation —misformed blood vessels) or CAA (cerebral amyloid angiopathy, plaque-like deposits of proteins built up in the blood vessels). They’ve ruled the first two out, but it could be the third.

Stroke can also be caused by high blood pressure (hypertension), severe trauma or a tumor. Dad’s blood pressure was fine, and any trauma to his head while falling was the result of the stroke, not the cause of it.

So that leaves a tumor or CAA. Both would be bad news in different ways: CAA has no known treatment and after it has bled once it is more likely to do so again. However, a brain tumor may need aggressive treatment to stop it.

The neurology team is making their rounds now, starting at room 4212 at the far end of the hall, and working clockwise towards us. They’ll tell us what they see on the MRI.

Meanwhile, last evening dad had a lower dose of Propofol, the sedative. Half as much as before. This is a good sign for weaning him from it.

Our present plan is to continue two healing circles a day, 10 am EST and 8 pm EST for half an hour. Join when you can!

Update on my dad: Hal Rothbart — Day 4 evening – #2, Feb. 26, 2017

The doctors warned us that day 4 would be a hump day. They were talking about stroke patients, because the swelling in the brain could peak today. However, tonight I realize it also seems to be hump day for family members. We are all exhausted after sleeping less than 4 hours per night.

Poor dad also looks exhausted. His body needs to rest to recover, but he gets woken frequently by nurses, to suck fluid from his lungs or check his pupils or draw blood or turn him. It’s a constant balance between maintaining his body and letting his brain heal. “If you or I had to come here, healthy, and spend a week living as a patient on the ICU, we’d go crazy,” one of the neurologists commented. The same doctor advised us that recovery from a stroke is a marathon not a sprint. We are trying to learn to pace ourselves.

Today we had good news throughout the day, but each step is so incremental that it is hard to stay optimistic when it is mixed in with bad news.

On the good side:
• Dad was removed from the sedative Propofol at 6 am and never had to be put back on it.
• This meant he was more alert more often, especially in the morning.
• At 8 am, his ventilator was switched from SIMV mode (Synchronized Intermittent Mandatory Ventilation) to Spontaneous mode. Basically this means he was breathing on his own instead of having forced air. Except a few brief periods, he breathed for himself all day. The next step will be to remove the breathing tube entirely, but he is not ready for that yet.
• The MRI showed less swelling than expected. Sometimes the edema (blood and fluid on the brain) can cause additional brain damage but this doesn’t seem to be the case.
• Dad’s other body parts are functioning fairly well: lungs, gastrointestinal, circulatory systems all doing what they are supposed to do. Blood pressure remained normal most of the time.
• They removed his neck brace after the MRI showed no spinal damage.

On the other hand:
• The MRI showed that the most likely cause of the stroke was CAA (cerebral amyloid angiopathy), plaque-like deposits of proteins built up in the blood vessels. Probably better than a tumor, but there is no known medical cure for CAA, and after one stroke, it is common to have additional strokes.
• Dad has developed some pneumonia in his lungs, probably from the vomit he inhaled.
• He developed a fever this afternoon, peaking about 102 degrees, although they got it back down to 99 by 8 pm.
• The doctors want to see dad consistently more alert and wakeful before they will risk removing the breathing tube. Ideally, he should be responsive when we talk to him, able to move a hand or foot on command, track movement with his left eye, and not drift back to sleep in the middle. Although he had moments of seeming engaged, he was not passing these tests this afternoon. He was less alert than in the morning.
• If the breathing tube does not come out this week, it will be time to consider a tracheostomy.
• One method to increase alertness and reduce swelling is by giving a hypersaline solution. This increases sodium and thus decreases liquids in the brain. They tried this about 1 pm but it did not have the desired effect.

Just now, at 10 pm, four of us are winding down for bed and Davy is taking the night shift at the hospital. He just texted this update:

Dad had a good exam at 9:30pm. Elevated alertness and followed commands on opening eyes, moving leg and moving hand. Justine, the new night nurse, scored him a 10 on his Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). Hung with him a few more minutes then he went back to sleep. Just now Vicky the respiratory nurse came in and listened to his breathing and said it’s much improved since last night, and that overall she is sensing incremental progress. Little bit at a time, she said. And Justine cautioned don’t worry if it’s two steps forward one step back. I like seeing the nurses own hopeful attitudes after seeing him. They told me they see a lot of patients and that dad is doing well in the context of others who deal with an extreme stroke like this.

Hal Rothbart and Barbara Brodsky on their wedding night from Mike Forster Rothbart

 

 

My parents dancing at their wedding, 6 people, people smiling, people standing and wedding,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes for tomorrow, Feb. 26, 2018:
We will continue to have two healing circles a day, 10 am EST and 8 pm EST for half an hour. Here are specific requests about what to do:

For Tuesday keep the focus the same as before: relieving inflammation and fluids on the brain, quieting, and gentle. The hemorrhage is centered in his left frontal lobe. [Previous instructions here: www.facebook.com/mfrphoto/posts/10107917665107537 ]

Note 2: Local Ann Arbor friends: we will need volunteers to take shifts sitting with Hal in his ICU room, plus people to support Barbara with some logistical tasks and meals. Those of you who are on Barbara’s local mailing list will get an email with details soon. If you don’t get an email, check back here tomorrow.

Feb 25 10:25pm
Update on Hal Rothbart: Day 3 evening

We’ll have prayer circles again on Monday, from 10 to 10:30 am and 8 to 8:30 pm (Eastern). We will gather (in person or remotely) to pray and support him. Please join us when you can — if you’re busy at those times, feel free to do it when you can.

My mom and Aaron make these specific requests about what to do:

“Dear friends of Hal,

For Monday please keep the focus the same as before, on relieving inflammation on the brain, quieting, and gentle. [Previous instructions here: www.facebook.com/mfrphoto/posts/10107917665107537 and above at the beginning of this post]

Depending on the results of tonight’s MRI, on Tuesday we may be ready to begin some stimulation of the cortex, helping energize the brain and body to better function. Please check in here after 9 pm Monday night for new instructions.”

I realize people from many different parts of my life are reading these updates, so a brief word about my mom for those who don’t know her. She is a spiritual channeler, and primarily channels a spirit named Aaron.

For the purposes of supporting dad, it doesn’t really matter whether you believe in this or think it’s hogwash. As Aaron says, “Some of you may feel skepticism or discomfort at the idea of being addressed by a spirit. It doesn’t matter if I’m “real.” If my words are useful, use them. If not, discard them.”

We appreciate having you quietly praying in whatever form you prefer to do it. Quakers hold people in the light. Jews say Mi Sheberakh. Catholics have their rosaries and Buddhists their mantras.

As dad would sing right now if he could, “Come on something come on in don’t be shy meet a guy pull up a chair.”

(See https://genius.com/Leonard-bernstein-somethings-coming-lyrics

Mike Forster Rothbart
_________________________________________________________

 

Hal Rothbart with family at UofM hospital in Ann Arbor, MI

From Barbara, Fri., Feb. 24 at 10:50 pm:

Dear ones,
It seems from the email/ fb response that we had over 50 people, maybe closer to 100, tuned in with meditation. Please join us tomorrow at 8AM, 8 PM.

Eight of us gathered in his room – me, Mike, Davy,  2 friends of mine and Hal’s, 2 friends of Davy’s and one nurse. Meditating. The nurse stopped the sedation drug at 7:58pm and left it off for nearly an hour. (Previously they had taken him off for 5 minutes at a time but his blood pressure started to rise and he grimaced as if in pain. This time they gave him tylenol before they stopped the sedative).

We gathered around Hal and began to talk to him, then sing some of his favorite songs, play music, tell jokes. His eyes opened occasionally. At first they were unfocused but later his eyes moved around to different places although not always tracking together. He seemed to look at one or another face for a few  moments, and at times we all felt he smiled. Davy told him to move his left foot and then his left hand and sometimes he moved after. With his left hand he sometimes tried to reach up to his tubes, which the nurse felt was a common response to the discomfort.

This morning he was breathing completely with the ventilator while sedated. Late this afternoon he started breathing partly on his own. The ventilator was set to 14 (not sure of the units) and during the time from 8 to 9 tonight, the total intake?/air level was 16 to 22; the nurse said that meant 25% or 30% of the air was coming in from his own effort.

We could feel the huge base of energy support around us. Thank you. It made a big difference for him and all of us.

Very tired, so that’s its for tonight, We need to be there at 7 to meet again with the neurosurgeon on his rounds. Then meditation at 8AM. and our son Peter arrives from Seattle around 9.
with love, Barbara
_________________________________________________________

Written by our son Mike
Updates on dad  Feb 24, 2018 12:45 pm

Day 2:

We slept 2 to 5 hours (Davy 2, me 4 and mom 5) and returned to the hospital for morning rounds. We met with a neurosurgeon who gave us difficult news. Dad had massive internal bleeding the first day — a 7 cm wide affected area, like the size of a hockey puck, in the left rear quadrant of his brain.

Typically day 3 and 4  after a stroke are critical because that’s when there’s the most swelling in the brain. Sometimes this causes further damage, and other times it is temporary and then passes. (What to do about this; See more below) During those days he will be less alert.

The bleeding has now stopped. However patients his age have less than 10% chance of partial recovery and almost no chance of full recovery. Many die within a few weeks.

But dad has always liked to beat the odds. More importantly, we have a caring community around him with a lot of knowledge of healing (of all kinds — allopathic, spiritual etc).

So many of you have asked how to help. Here is one thing we would like:

Tonight from 8 to 8:30 pm (Eastern) we are going to gather (in person or remotely) to pray and hold him in the light. Please join us. We’ll do the same again Sunday (Sunday, Feb. 25) 8 am and 8 pm.

My mom and Aaron makes these specific requests about what to do now:

Dear friends, remember that while the stroke and bleeding did cause damage, further inflammation can be  temporary, caused by the stroke and bleeding. We release this inflammation and invite the clear tissue to return. The most important gift you can give is to offer a very gentle calming energy. Always inviting, healing, never grasping at it. Picture his brain like a small baby that was deeply frightened by a loud noise. Picture how you would hold and quiet that baby, inviting it to release its fear and find its calm center. In this way picture his brain releasing the inflammation and returning to its natural state.

We know that cells can regenerate. The time for that has not come yet. The first step is to invite the brain to release the trauma it has experienced by calming and loving it. When that is done, in a few days, we’ll look at the next step.

Mike Forster Rothbart

Eleven Short Stories about Empathy

EMPATHY …

THESE ELEVEN SHORT STORIES ARE ALL VERY GOOD STORIES AND MAKE US THINK TWICE ABOUT THE DAILY HAPPENINGS IN OUR LIVES AS WE DEAL WITH OTHERS!!

1.  Today, I interviewed my grandmother for part of a research paper I’m working on for my Psychology class. When I asked her to define success in her own words, she said;”Success is when you look back at your life and the memories make you smile.” 

2.  Today, after my 72 hour shift at the fire station, a woman ran up to me at the grocery store and gave me a hug. When I tensed up, she realized I didn’t recognize her. She let go with tears of joy in her eyes and the most sincere smile and said; “On 9-11-2001, you carried me out of the World Trade Center.”

3.  Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying.  And just before he died;He licked the tears off my face.

4.  Today at 7AM, I woke up feeling ill, but decided I needed the money, so I went into work. At 3PM I got laid off.  On my drive home I got a flat tire. When I went into the trunk for the spare, it was flat too.A man in a BMW pulled over, gave me a ride, we chatted, and then he offered me a job. I start tomorrow.  

5.  Today, as my father, three brothers, and two sisters stood around my mother’s hospital bed, my mother uttered her last coherent words before she died.She simply said, “I feel so loved right now. We should have gotten together like this more often.”

6.  Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a small hospital bed. About 5 seconds after he passed,I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy.

7.  Today, in the cutest voice, my 8-year-old daughter asked me to start recycling. I chuckled and asked, “Why?” She replied, “So you can help me save the planet.” I chuckled again and asked, “And why do you want to save the planet?”Because that’s where I keep all my stuff,” 

8.  Today, when I witnessed a 27-year-old breast cancer patient laughing hysterically at her 2-year-old daughter’s antics, I suddenly realized that,I need to stop complaining about my life and start celebrating it again.

9.  Today, a boy in a wheelchair saw me desperately struggling on crutches with my broken leg and offered to carry my backpack and books for me. He helped me all the way across campus to my class and as he was leaving he said,”I hope you feel better soon.”

10. Today, I was feeling down because the results of a biopsy came back malignant. When I got home, I opened an e-mail that said, “Thinking of you today. If you need me, I’m a phone call away.” It was from a high school friend I hadn’t seen in 10 years.

11. Today, I was traveling in Kenya and I met a refugee from Zimbabwe. He said he hadn’t eaten anything in over 3 days and looked extremely skinny and unhealthy. Then my friend offered him the rest of the sandwich he was eating.The first thing the man said was, “We can share it.

From Tavis Taylor, M.D.
Board of Directors
President, Deep Spring Center

Daily Aaron Quote – Oct. 27, 2017

Life is inconvenient! Not finding liberation is going to be inconvenient. It’s okay, you’ll have another chance, no big deal. But here you are, why waste the opportunity? It’s important that there not be an ‘I should,’ or any kind of guilt approach here; just, here is a good opportunity. You can use it if you wish.

To receive daily Aaron Quotes: http://archives.deepspring.org/dailyquote/

To see more quotes: https://deepspring.org/aaron-quotes/

Forty Seven Stories of Jesus

Forty Seven Stories of Jesus
You probably have never heard
by Aaron, channeled by Barbara Brodsky
edited and arranged by William Atork

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(US shipping, contact Deep Spring office for international shipping)
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For everyone who has ever said or wondered, “What would Jesus do?”, here is your answer. Pure and unblemished true-life examples of how Jesus felt about and treated other people, exactly as He encountered them during His time spent living among us. Read more

Casa Journal – Part 2, March 2, 2017

2017 Casa group – missing 4.

I’m sitting at my table, a Chocolate Acai smoothie beside me; my writing fuel.

I was in the revision line yesterday morning, waiting on the side with the wheelchairs, when the Entity came out to do visible surgery. The Casa surgery line had just entered. He looked up at the 8 or so wheelchairs there, (my scooter is considered a wheelchair at the Casa) and said, “All wheelchairs to operation now”.  It’s Thursday afternoon now and I’m just getting out of bed. After the surgery I immediately felt shaky, and wondered if I could ride back safely. Some talk about maturity and responsibility. We must ask for the help we need; to pass out is an inconvenience to others. But we also need to truly know what we can do and do it. Aaron agreed yes I was stable enough to ride, so I picked up my herbs, signed the slip of where I will be for next week’s revision, and rode back, and straight to bed, and into a deep sleep, but also with dreams and awareness that the surgery continued; shoulders, back, legs, eyes. Seems like they were working everywhere. Then into oblivion for a few hours. Someone woke me with lunch. I ate and went right back to sleep. But about 3, I woke up, used the bathroom, then lay in bed with eyes closed, not asleep or awake, an in-between state, somewhat of an altered consciousness.

Aaron began to talk about a topic that has been ongoing all month, about which I’ve written only a little.  Several related topics really: co-creation; surrender; power; humility and pride. It wasn’t so much talk as, that in this altered state of consciousness, I was being shown things that we had talked about previously and of which I had intellectual understanding. This went much deeper.

In meditation, all month I have found myself sometimes resting in a cylinder of radiant light. I’ve also been watching even subtle held contractions (as opposed to those that arise and release, as does the heartbeat). When I rest in the Light, in Awareness, the contractions simply release, with nothing to hold them. There are no stories about a contraction when it arises, just awareness that it arose out of conditions and will pass; there is no “self” to it, just the outplay of conditions. I put Light and Awareness together here, as when resting in Awareness, the primary experience for me is intense and radiant Light or Luminosity.  Awareness is citta (consciousness) and Light is an object of that consciousness. It’s not the Unconditioned itself but is what we call a direct expression of the Unconditioned. It’s always there so Awareness can touch on it when Awareness itself is open and able to connect.

I don’t want to get too technical here; I’m simply differentiating between mundane consciousness and Pure Awareness. Mundane consciousness can only perceive mundane light and not Luminosity. Much more about this on the Deep Spring Center archives. Look up “citta”.

So this past month there has been much resting in Pure Awareness, and the sign of Luminosity has been strong. I experience it energetically and visually, just fully resting in Light, Light everywhere; and with the high energy of that Light. When I contract back into the small self, I lose the Light, and become aware of a “somebody” pushing and pulling, trying to do and fix and control. It may be subtle but still there. This is NOT our natural state, but is our (or at least my) habitual state!

The habit is so deep. On Tuesday I observed myself trying to figure out how to “do” this week, to have surgery if it was recommended and to also sit in Current. I would go to revision (surgery review) Wednesday morning, one week from the past surgery. I would sit in Current Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. Then I would go through the line Thursday afternoon and if he sent me to surgery Friday morning, I’d still be okay for my flight Saturday night! Ha! Aaron asked me teasingly if I had it all figured out? Yes, actually! Then he asked me what I wished most to co-create. The deepest possible healing of this body, mind and spirit. Could I feel the contraction as I shaped a plan and tried to push it forward? Yes.

He suggested to just state my intention for healing and trust that this is also the Entities’ plan, and Divine will. How it happens is not yet known. Send forth the intention and let go. And, of course, at 8AM Wednesday he came out to the Main Hall and said, all wheelchairs to surgery. This is just one example.

Through these weeks, the planning mind/ controlling mind jumps in. But how do we co-create? How do we offer our intention and trust that the Universe WILL support it if it is for the highest good? This ability seems to be at the core of healing. It’s not even an “ability” but a “non-ability”, a profound trust and letting go that is only possible from Pure Awareness. Ability is a learned skill; this “knowing” is the fruit of being, innate to us. This is not to say there is no ego presenting, but it is seen for what it is, just arisen from conditions and empty. When this is deeply recognized, it no longer has power. It keeps returning and Love keeps saying to it (to contraction), “sit by my fire and have tea”. It does release as the heart invites opening; kindness asks the question; it doesn’t try to chase away the contraction or its causes. Eventually the energy winds down. It just consumes itself and goes.

So I have been watching these patterns for months (for decades!) but they came into special focus at the Casa this month as Aaron and other Entities spoke about held contraction as a source of physical distortion/ illness. For several months, they have been asking me to watch the spine and the ways subtle contraction is held there. When observed, there is deep breathing into the spine, contraction releases, and pain resolves. I don’t want to oversimplify; there are many causes of illness. This is just one.

I could write for pages on this and will not. Tomorrow is a Casa day. I just want to get the basics written.

Lying in bed yesterday afternoon, I was offered an image of many little tornadoes, each spinning along in their own path, battering into each other, each pushing their own agenda.  Embracing all this chaos, there was an all-encompassing cylinder of radiance. The tornadoes have free will, to continue to spin out in their own paths, or to rest in the core energy that enfolds them and allows them to co-create with each other and the Core. When they know themselves as part of each other and of the Core, they have the power (not their own power but the shared power, of co-creation for the highest good and harm to none. Unbalanced contraction ceases. Everything flows. As soon as one tornado contracts and wants its own way, it throws the whole system into temporary imbalance. But the system is greater than any part and rebalances. The renegade has a choice, to spin into its own orbit or to release self and rejoin the flow. There is no pressure on it to do so. It has free will. It loses nothing to join the flow; only gains in power and luminosity.

It moves into contraction when it opposes the highest good to separate and support only or primarily the self. This seems like an expression of fear. Aaron, is this the beginning of negative polarity?

Aaron: We cannot name an original cause. This separation of the self from the divine is an expression of negative polarity and enhances it. It takes the entity further from knowing its true self. That means it takes it further into isolation and fear.

BB: thank you. So this distortion, for lack of a better name, then further manifests as dis-ease in the body?

Aaron Yes. Please use the word distortion with care. As we have discussed, a distortion is not negative, just a “bend” in the flow.

BB: Thank you for that reminder.

And an essence of healing is in simply resting in the Light, the energy, the flow of creation and destruction in which nothing can ever truly be destroyed?

Aaron: and nothing created; it already is. If it did not exist, it could not become.

BB: So in this way, when you say that what we seek is already there, just to rest and allow it, this is your meaning?

Aaron: yes. And yet you do have free will, and are Creators. You co-create, from this space of divine energy and love, holding forth that which is for the highest good, always willing to release the fear based contractions that spin into distortion.

BB: But we can also create from fear?

Aaron: Yes, but not co-create with the Infinite Creator, which only creates from the Love vibration.

BB: But fear does co-create within itself, from a much lower vibration.

Aaron: yes, and this is what you are seeing in the world today. The Love vibration simply offers to hold the space for fear until it changes its polarity. But if you apply force, fear/contraction uses that energy to enhance negative polarity.

This is enough for tonight. Please rest, and reflect further on this tomorrow, not with the mind but with the heart.

 

March 3, 2017: Friday morning: I sat by the triangle outside the surgery room for an hour, had a double crystal bath, sat at the overlook, and am back in my room, It is an exquisite Brazil day, maybe 80 degrees but with a breeze, clear sky with small puffs of clouds. The foliage seems illuminated from within and without, radiating light.

A lot of information came through this morning and a suggestion I might write about it if I choose; it’s partly related to what I wrote above, but also moving in a different direction. It was all so clear during meditation and crystal bed. Now I can’t remember any of it!

Surrender: let’s start with that word and see where it takes me. To surrender is an act, doing. It involves a “somebody” surrendering, and someone, a more powerful being, perhaps, to which we surrender. This is the conventional view. What is really occuring?

From an ego’s perspective, we all want control, and feel that to surrender is to give away our power. This is our conditioning. As third density beings, we believe we do need to develop an ego to survive. It is part of the whole path of awakening we’ve agreed to enter, evolving from lower to higher consciousness. (or awakening to the already present awakened consciousness that always was!)

We teach children to have a strong sense of self. But here we’re already creating a duality, because that “self” is perceived to be separate from everything else. Then we wonder why we, as humans, feel alienated and alone.

In my teaching, unworthiness is a constant theme for students. Feelings of unworthiness come with human experiences of abuse and neglect. Not feeling loved by the parents, there is a cry, “how do I get back into God’s good graces?” But it also comes from people who had loving parents and stable homes, yet still feel unworthy. It seems really to be an existential issue. Perhaps we have not lost the God out there, but the Divine within the self.

Instead of considering feelings of unworthiness and alienation to be a problem, we can recognize it as a teacher. Assuming we never were unworthy (and of course, no one ever was unworthy; it’s just a concept) can these feelings of isolation, aloneness, estrangement from the Divine, lead us back into the direct experience of the Divine so we know we have never been separate?

We must be willing to ask, what does holding this idea of “wrongness’ protect me from?” Then we may begin to understand how attachment to such an idea was our way of allowing ourselves to hold on to negative thoughts, pulling ourselves further away from the Light, from our true being. What if we come to know that we ARE that Light we seek? It becomes a vicious circle. We’re afraid to know ourselves as that Light because of the fears that we are flawed, or will fail, so we set ourselves up to fail by enacting the negative emotions, or chastising ourselves that they have arisen, or just denying that we are essentially Light.

Increasingly, I find that all the manifestations of distortion of mind and body at least have some roots in this conundrum. I cannot be what I truly am because i don’t believe it’s what I am, and because i won’t let myself experience self as that divinity, I cannot transcend the pain of not being that. Which way out?

Here at the Casa that veil between planes is so thin. There is so much high energy, Light, and love. People do experience it, even those with little prior meditation experience.

March 11 now, back home. Today marks a week since I returned. Hard to believe. Days have flown past.

It’s much harder to rest in awareness within that cylinder of light from the heavier vibration of the non-Casa world. Sometimes there is the full experience, more often just memory of the experience.

Distortion is the word of the week.

Aaron: May 27, 1998 excerpt: Please note that when I use the word distortion, I do not use it in a negative sense. If you have a straight line upon the paper and then create waves in that line where it goes up above the line and dips below, and above and below, each dip up and down is a distortion (of the line). There’s nothing bad about these distortions. If you have water in the sea, and the force of tide and wind and current push the sea as waves against the shore, the force of the wave building up and crashing down upon the shore is a distortion. And (gravity) pulling it back into the sea is another distortion. There’s nothing bad about distortion.

Aaron has also used the illustration of a flashlight hitting water at night, the way the light beam seems to bend because of the density of the water. This is a distortion. It’s also an illusion. The light does not actually bend.  Such a seeming bend is an example of a distortion.

Sept. 3, 1995 Barbara’s private journals

Aaron: The Unconditioned is the intrinsic core of everything. Its Unconditioned core does not cease to exist when that phenomena enters the realm of conditioned. Both exist simultaneously. The Unconditioned does not create the conditioned, but invites the conditioned as expression of itself. The conditioned is simply voice or manifestation of the Unconditioned.

Barbara: How does the conditioned begin? …

Aaron: The entire conditioned realm is illusion arisen from a distortion of the Unconditioned.

Barbara: Then we’re at the same place. What gave rise to the first distortion?

Aaron: Here is where we must move into your understandings of Light. Think of that pure heart/mind, or Pure Awareness if you prefer. This is the primordially perfect light, and is the essence of everything that later is “arisen.” It is the deathless core. Within that light, there is nothing to arise or cease. When pure awareness first becomes aware of itself, it creates self and other. Perhaps this is the primary distortion. It is not useful to ask what served as catalyst for its arising, but at that moment where awareness looks in at itself, it sees duality for the first time. If the potential for that expression of illusory duality were not part of the nature of the non-dual, it could not be experienced. It is inaccurate to say that non-duality created duality. Rather, you see that duality and non-duality MUST reside together within non-duality. They are two different expressions of the Non-dual. Thus, the Unconditioned does not create duality nor serve as condition for its arising but allows the expression of that which was already intrinsic to its nature. Do you understand?

Barbara: Yes. This is the meaning of “everything that manifests is expression of Rigpa (or pure heart/mind).

Continuing today March 12.

        When I am in that cylinder of light, there’s no possibility of distortion. In class Tuesday night we spoke of the three kayas, and the place where the sambhogakaya emerges from the Dharmakaya. We have to emerge to be part of this relative reality, one foot resting in Dharmakaya, yet active in the world. When we move too far out and lose touch with Dharmakaya, we easily lose our center.

I think of a pure spring. We can’t go into the spring to get the pure water or we pollute the spring. We take the water just as it emerges, where it is still very pure, not a half mile downstream where the cattle are wading in the stream. So I find that when I can rest in that place of emergence from the ever-perfect, I’m best able to carry that high vibration, uncontractedness, and Light into daily life. The further out I go, the more I carry “distortion.

The reverse is true too. When I‘m caught inn distortion and recognize that I’ve been swept downstream, so to speak, and in meditation, return to source, then the distortions release. It’s much easier for me with emotional and mental distortions because the physical body is heavier and releases the contractions slower. But looking at my leg and veins, for example, fear and distrust on their ability to heal keeps them distorted. When I KNOW the ever-perfect right there with the distortion, and relax, “surrender” the fear (going back to earlier in this journal for ‘surrender’) and rest just at the space of emergence from the ever perfect, I can see/ feel/ know both the ever-perfect and the distortions and relax back into the ever-perfect. Then the heavier physical body can begin to move in that direction.

I’ve been doing this all month, practicing with guidance from Aaron and the Casa Entities. There is such a strong habit to contract, without mindfulness. I find the easiest path is to remember to stay connected to Rigpa, to keep up that inquiry, “where is Rigpa in this moment?” In past years, this has been more cerebral. Now it is becoming more organic, really feeling it not thinking about it.

I’ve noticed that when I do the Feldenkrais movements from this organic resting in awareness, there is very little tension anywhere. When there is a Barbara who tries to do anything, even just to be present, then contraction returns.

Tues. Evening Class-Transcript Jan. 24, 2017

January 24, 2017 Tuesday Evening Class
Vipassana; intention; dependent origination; simultaneity or relative and ultimate; and waterfall meditation

Barbara: (apologizing that the tape was not started at the beginning) We’ve been talking about the cycle of dependent origination, which with you’re familiar, and the active moment. I began to tell a story of meditating some time in the past week, feeling some pain where my incision was, and moving into fear and feeling strong negativity. This seemed to me to be an external entity. But what difference does it make? It’s simply negativity, fear. How we relate to it is the same; we say no. What gives us the power to say no is— we go full circle— intention. What is our highest intention here? Is it to keep ourselves safe by armoring the self? Is it to strike out and feel powerful, as another way of feeling safe? Is it truly to rest in this heart of love? No matter what comes to me, to rest in this heart of love.

We develop the habitual pattern to respond to these pushes (demonstrates; someone pushes her) by not pushing back and not falling over, but absorbing the energy and sending it back. We can do it a hundred times a day, a thousand times a day. This is the power of vipassana for me, because after years, eventually, if I’m meditating and there’s a strong sense of something negative, or if I’m outside and something very negative happens, it’s not a thought, “What shall I do now?” We know what to do. And all of you have the experience; you really do know what to do.

What does it mean to respond with love? This is it. Start your sitting with, “What is my highest intention?” Rest yourself in that intention. Some people start with chanting or taking the precepts, or just offering love, grounding yourself in the light that you are. And then as challenging experiences come during the sitting, can we greet them with kindness and let go of any fear and anger? But if the fear and anger persist, can we just be with it? Whatever has the nature to arise has the nature to cease. It will go. How long can it last? Hours, you tell me. Well, maybe. Eventually it will go. Ahhh… So our choice is to go toward freedom, not toward rebirth of reaction with that same object.

Let’s sit now for 20 minutes.

(sitting)

So an illustration: You’re swimming on a beautiful day. You’re a strong swimmer, you don’t tire easily. But there are little sea creatures, snails and turtles climbing on you, and an octopus that is looping a tentacle around your neck or your leg, all slowly pulling you down. You’re swimming backstroke and a turtle climbs up and sits on your belly. He’s just sitting there, a big turtle. It happens so gradually that you don’t notice that you’re being weighed down. But at whatever point you catch it— “Oh! I am being ensnared by the turtles of old mind thinking, the octopi of old fear, of old habit. Oh! No.”  Say no, Just let them go.

You start to swim again and you feel 50 lbs. lighter. It’s easy to swim again. But then 5 minutes later a few of them have climbed up on you again. They’re weighing you down. You may have to keep releasing them over and over until you’ve sent a clear message, “No, I am not going to become a carrier for old, heavy sea life. You swim on your own. I’m not your vehicle.” Let them go. Eventually they realize that you mean it and they’ll go away. I don’t promise they’ll never come back, but you’ll be much more aware that they have come back, and you’ll catch them sooner. You’ll see it swimming toward you and know he’s about to climb up. “No, you may/ not latch on.” There’s increasing freedom.

Part of the work here is remembering you are not the swimmer burdened down with 100 lbs. of deadweight. That’s an old illusion, an old story. You are free, you are radiant, you are awake already. So you start to catch these little ensnarements faster, not with fear but with the deep loving intention, “No, I choose to be awake. For my own good and the highest good of all beings, I choose not to get trapped by this ensnarement again and again and again.” That’s really all it takes. Once you begin to remember that you are a radiant soul, that you are awake, you don’t fall into those same traps as formerly. Again, I’m not saying that nothing will ever trap you, but it has to work harder to trap you. And you are already out of it before you’re really grabbed by it.

(Someone holds onto to Barbara) Okay, so she’ll hold on. I’ll keep talking. How long will she hold on? I don’t know. I’m not really concerned. We let it go. It goes. It can’t hold on if your heart is open and bright. If you trust your radiance and the power of love within you, then this negativity cannot hold on. And I’m speaking here both about external negativity and your own habitual negative patterns. (Barbara suddenly snaps her arm free; just lifting it away) That’s all, thank you.

(tape paused)

Aaron: Once again, my blessings and love to you all. I want to tie a few loose ends together because as Dan said, we will not be here for the February classes.

There are a number of parts with which we are working. One is what I would call the mundane practice: being present in this moment, aware of what is arising, and how it passes away. What arises may be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, as relates to this whole chart. Dependent origination is real. Have any of you read my book No Chain At All? This is available on the Deep Spring website, as a free download. It was one of those spiral bound books, and I don’t think we print it anymore but it’s available for reading. These talks were given back in the 1990’s, a year series of classes, which reminded us that there is indeed a chain of dependent arising, and also there is no chain. The whole chain is an illusion. You’re either going around the wholesome or around the unwholesome circle. You believe you’re caught on this treadmill (referring to the “Life’s little Treadmill” chart). Step off from it! Are you ready to step off?

You cannot step off to avoid the unpleasantness of mundane experience, but you need to remember the simultaneity. The whole mundane realm of experience is arising on the mundane level, and yet, in this moment, you are free of it. Simultaneity: the horizontal, the long line of mundane experience rolling on, and right here, this present moment in which there is no karma, no chain, there is just freedom.

We’re working with several parts in this class. One is the power of intention. Another is my art suggestion; Dorothy Ann is working with that to help you figure out how to do it. But when it’s done well, with a thick layer of crayon,then the India ink dried, and then you scratch it off, there’s a black surface and a light shines through. I find it a very beautiful metaphor. So perhaps in the coming month you will try it. And we are reading the books Human, Flight of the Garuda, and The Defilements.

This is from Flight of the Garuda. Dorothy Ann chose this and she will email it to you, from Song 21.

Free from all reference points
Spontaneous as a madman
Without the duality of self and other
You are like a noble being
Like an echo sounding.

Whatever you say is free of fixation
Not attached to anything.

You are like a Garuda soaring in the sky
Free from fear and anxiety.

You are like a lion,
Like the sky cleared of clouds.

Everything is primordially free.

Reflect some this coming month on that stanza. What does it mean, “Everything is primordially free.”? It’s not your mundane experience in each moment, but it is the deeper reality.

And in Human:

When you acknowledge the presence of fear and its siblings and allow them much space
Then the loving heart can reassert its authority.
The love-based motivation is always present, although sometimes hidden.
To allow the light of loving kindness to shine
You must investigate the nature of the shadow.

I’m going to read that again.

To allow the light of loving kindness to shine
You must investigate the nature of the shadow.
With understanding, shadow ceases to carry authority.
The clouds thin to a mist that disappears.

So please practice with these things, tying it all together, the mundane experience and the supramundane.

Also, as part of this class, inviting your spirit guidance to support you, to work with you. You are not alone. You have all the help that you need. We’ll work more with that further on in the semester. Just remember it.

Now, briefly, a guided meditation that I have led numerous times. I’m going to shorten it here. Close your eyes and come with me.

You are floating down a river on an inner tube. You have in your hand a small paddle so you can steer a bit, but mostly you’re gliding with the current. Before you set out you were told the current will carry you safely, but about 2/3 of the way down there is a fork. You must go right, and then the current will carry you smoothly a long distance out and around and back to the pool below, with no serious rapids. But if you miss that turn, it will pull you left and over some steep waterfalls, bashing over rocks into the pool below. So pay attention. It will be very clear where the fork is.

You drift and paddle. You’re watchful for the fork. You know you’ve come about 2/3 of the way down. Where is it? Where is it? Then you see how the river branches. This is it! I’ll paddle to the right, no problem! And suddenly a big fish jumps up, startles you. “Ooh, what was that?” And suddenly it’s too late, you’re being pulled by the current to the left-hand fork, over the rapids. Bang! Crash! Ouch!

Back onto a truck that carries you up the mountain. Put your raft back down in the river. “This time I know where it is and I won’t be fooled.” Down you float. It’s beautiful. There are butterflies. There’s a beautiful mist in places where little side waterfalls drop into the river; so beautiful. And then you’re approaching that fork. Watchful, watchful. A big fly lands on your face, biting you! Slap! Ouch! Back over the left-hand fork, down the falls. Does it sound familiar?

Third time. Something else captures your attention. You know what you need to do to go the smooth route, but there’s so much old habit energy that keeps pulling you over the waterfall, bashing you into the rocks.

This next time down there is a strong intention to stay present, to pay attention. Not fear, but love. “For the highest good of myself and all beings, no matter what distraction arises, I will stay present.” And you’re able to do so. You start to paddle in time, and you go smoothly around this right-hand fork and down a lovely stretch of river that takes you gently down to the pool below.

Back up to the top of the mountain. This time you have more confidence. “I can do it. I don’t have to become ensnared in the objects that pull me off into the painful stretch of river.” You do it again and again, and each time it becomes easier, until finally you begin to wonder, “How did I ever get pulled over that waterfall in the first place?” But it takes courage and practice. That, my dear ones, is what you are doing: remembering the beauty of the wholesome stretch of river. And that you don’t have to go over the waterfalls and find yourself bashed and bleeding. Isn’t it time to make that choice? You can do it. Remember I am with you, and if you find yourself swirling around in your little craft, feeling yourself being pulled toward the strong current of the rocks and waterfalls, say, “Aaron, help me.” I’ll be there. I’ll help you. You are not alone.

I love you very much and I very much appreciate the hard work you are doing to live more fully from the light that you are. Remember that you are light; you are love. And quoting the Buddha, if it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it. If it were not possible, you would not have joined this class. If it were not possible for each of you, you would not have joined this class. At some level, you know you are ready not to go over waterfalls anymore, to bash into the rocks and bleed. As each of you is able to do that, it inspires others. It’s time you see the craft pulling off to the right and down that beautiful stretch of river ahead of you. You remember, “Ah, I can do that too. I don’t have to bash my head on the rocks.” It is time. Do it.

My blessings and love to you all.

(session ends)

Letter from a Grandma about Meditation to her Grandson

This letter is a communication between Dorothyann Coyne, a Deep Spring Center teacher, and her grandson about meditation.

An email from Dorothyann’s Grandson: Grandma! I loved having brunch with you too. I just finished reading your whole letter. Thanks for putting down in words everything we walked about. I’ll do my best to start following these practices. Some I already do, but there is always room for improvement, and some I really haven’t spent much time with.

Thanks again. Much love! I’ll see you again soon hopefully.

Your grandson 🙂

On Thursday, August 11, 2016, Dorothy Ann Coyne <[email protected]> wrote:

Dearest Alex — Thank you so very much for the lovely brunch we shared the other morning.  I so enjoy spending time with you.  Love anticipating it, love being with you, love remembering it.  Crazy eh?  Guess I simply love you.

You asked me about meditation.  So you hit me right where I truly live and I’m going to type into this email a bit of general instructions that you can look over and maybe they will serve you as you de-stress.

First of all, know that you can quiet the mind, spirit and inner agitation whether “sitting, standing, walking or lying down” to quote the ancient masters.  And there is no special place you have to be.  The old instructions mention leaving town and going to sit under a tree.  There is no doubt that nature gives us the most supportive place, but, not to worry, you can find the inner peace on a train, in a bus, at your desk, walking from here to there, standing at a window, stopping anywhere and just being there.

Sometimes I teach a curious an acronym — BRFWA — doesn’t spell anything but sums up the qualities of this practice.  I learned it in my yoga training at Kripalu.  It stands for breathe, relax, feel, watch and allow.

BREATHE — This is so basic it would seem unnecessary to mention.  But the breath is truly the link in the body/mind loop.    We change our whole autonomic nervous system when we observe and take control of our breath.  We literally move from fight or flight to easy does it.  At any moment, we can stop and take three conscious breaths.  At any time when we have stopped and are trying to unwind, it will be the breath and the clear awareness of the breath in some detail that will settle us down.  So “know if you are taking in a long breath, know if you are taking in a short breath, know if you are letting out a long/short breath” quoting the Buddha directly.  Find the apertures in the breath.  Rest there.  Just let nothing to be happening.  Return to this breath awareness at any moment in life that gets tough.  This can be done at a party with a drink in your hand.

RELAX — As the central experience of meditating mindfully is to simply be able to let the stuff of the mind some and go with no attachment, I am convinced that relaxation is what makes this all happen.  A great time to practice is after a workout.  I use my yoga for this, but I could see stopping after a good run or time in the gym.  At those moments, the body is a bit used up and so willing to be still.  A still body encourages a still mind.  At the very least some stretches, loosening of the shoulders, releasing the jaw, getting comfortable are all strategies that bring us to the optimum place to “sit” which may or may not be in a chair.

FEEL — The body is always in the present moment and  returning to a clear knowing of how the body is will pay dividends.  Some masters advocate a scanning of the body — mentally sweeping one’s awareness from head to feet and back again.  We can let this careful experience of the body help relieve any mental stress that is bugging us.  Along with the  awareness of how it is with us physically is the knowing of what’s going on with our emotions.  Just noticing any anxiety, fear, wanting of things to be different somehow — here is the heart of the practice.

WATCH — OK so we’re just noticing, just watching.  No judgement, comment, no decision making.  Just a strong feeling experience.  I also think that huge doses of kindness to oneself can come into play here.  This is especially true if pain, mental or physical, is present.  And even more especially true if the pain or distress is self inflicted.  And in just observing things as they are we let go of controlling the situation.   In classic instruction this is often called “choiceness awareness.”  We really have no idea what the mind is going to cook up next or what itch or body sensation will surface.  But here we have taken a time-out, however brief or long, to simply be with ourselves.  And we’re paying attention.  This whole business is not asking of us something we do not know how to do.  We can notice.  We can pay attention.  Simple.  Easy even.  But practicing it regularly is rather unusual you could say.

ALLOW — One teacher I’ve learned from says that this whole practice is like being a child again in the back seat of the car.  You are not controlling this experience and really have no say in where it’s going.  I remember times in my parents car very vividly even to this day.  Often I would be pressing my nose against a window in the back seat and just seeing what was going by with no particular energy.  As I have practiced again and again watching my mind bring up thoughts and stories and observed sounds, smells or body sensations around me, I have become stronger and stronger in the ability to allow the world, my life, to unfold as it does — to allow the meditation experience to unfold as it does.  This does not mean that I have become a passive ninny but knowing what’s happening and allowing it without resistance gives me the ability to then work with the moment from a place of peace.  I no longer have to “try” or force events in my life.  And when a truly big moment comes (grandpa’s death) I am right there, not running from it, not wishing it away, but simply present.  From that stance, I can operate with some clarity and effectiveness.

Well, my dearest one, I can only hope that these words are helpful to you.  Your grandfather and I began to learn such things in our early thirties.  So you are ahead of us already asking to know this stuff in your late twenties.  I can only say that this practice so very much contributed to real happiness in both our lives.  And  I know you realize the inner strength, fortitude that he had as he faced the end of his days.  Deep happiness, less struggle and suffering, clear strength — pretty wonderful payoff for a few minutes a day of stopping to relax and breathe.

I wish you well with all this and am right here any time to talk about it again.

Love you so dearly, Grandma

Barbara Brodsky channels Jeshua, 12.25.2016

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Wednesday with Aaron – Oct. 12, 2016 – Candidates and the Compassionate No

October 12, 2016 Wednesday with Aaron
Exercises and Practices of Non-Duality; both/and, not either/ or; Presidential Candidates and the Compassionate No; embracing the painful catalyst as teacher.

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. We continue with the topic of last month, non-duality. This month, I offer less an explanation of it than how we live that non-duality. I’m going to do something I have never done before and begin by speaking of your upcoming presidential election. I choose not to involve myself in the real life choices that you make personally or as a nation or a world. You have free will, and these are your choices. But I think there’s something important to learn about non-duality by regarding the various personae in this election.

Every human is a mix of positive and negative polarity. You are all growing into positive polarity. No matter how deeply enmeshed in negative polarity, each being is moving into the light. But some beings are still very much in darkness. I would say that all of you have come into incarnation to explore this balance of light and darkness in the self, and to use your free will choice to bring forth the light and release the darkness. If everything was light, there would be no catalyst. You do not need suffering. You do not need negative experiences. They remind you, however, to pay attention. And when you pay attention, you learn. And unfortunately many of you do not pay attention unless something grabs you, shakes you. So this loyal opposition come forth as teachers, as it were; unpleasant teachers, but teachers.

There is a beautiful practice  in which we observe that which grabs us with discomfort.  You observe the person who is painful to you, the one who you simply dislike, or the situations that you dislike. Often these are in some way either mirrors of yourselves or mirrors of something that you see the potential of in yourself. So if there is a person who is very impatient, and this person really bothers you, you might stop and ask yourself, what is it about this person that disturbs me so much? Well, their impatience. Why can’t I just let them be impatient? Perhaps because they reflect the possibility of your own impatience, even if it doesn’t come up often or you don’t act on it. You see how close you are to experiencing that impatience and acting upon it. You dislike that characteristic. So this person, he or she bothers you because the behavior is threatening your self-image. That could be you.

Everything comes as teacher. Furthermore, we manifest what we need as teacher. So if you have a presidential candidate who brings up a lot of aversion for many of you, why have you as a nation manifested this candidate? What are you learning, individually and nationally?

We see that this man has followers, people who stand before him shouting his name and are in agreement with his words. I’m told recently at a rally he spoke about putting his opposition in prison if he won the election, and the people around him started yelling, “Lock her up! Lock her up!” What kind of negativity are we seeing here? Is there anyone in this audience who at some time in your life has not reacted to something with that kind of anger? Perhaps you felt your beliefs were right and the others are wrong. Perhaps you expressed, or chose not to express, what we could call righteous anger.

This instrument, Barbara, talks about how she came to non-violent action in social arenas—the peace movement, the human rights movement; going on Freedom Rides, committing civil disobedience to block the launching of nuclear submarines. But she understands now, 50 years later, that she did not do it peacefully. Her heart was saying, to some degree, “Lock it up! Lock up those nuclear submarines! Lock up those bigoted people!”

You draw to you what you need to learn. And for those of you whom I am addressing, you are probably very intent on learning compassion, loving kindness, peace in your hearts. But you can’t just say, “No, I won’t have anger!” When the conditions are present, anger will arise. So you have invited both of these candidates, each of them stirring perhaps some areas of negativity in you. You have invited them because you have something to learn, personally and as a world.

if this candidate did not have a strong following, he would not be a candidate. Therefore, this whole negative movement that he represents, of oppression, of hatred, of lust for power, this has been lying fallow under the surface, waiting for something to bring it forth. And perhaps the only way to heal it is to let it emerge and be seen rather than keeping it buried.

You are free to like or dislike anybody. But instead of raging over him, can we say, “Thank you for what you are bringing forth and teaching us. And no, we will not see you elected.” It doesn’t matter which candidate you’re for, it’s the same question. If you find negativity in the female candidate, it’s the same thing. “Thank you for whatever you have come to teach us.” And whichever candidate, “No, I will not support your election.” As we practice in this way, we begin to see those aspects of ourselves, our nation and world that have been buried under the surface, that we have not wanted to allow, to let them emerge, and to attend to them so they no longer have power.

There’s a beautiful story that I’ve shared here before, and you may have read elsewhere, also, about the Tibetan saint Milarepa. He had come back from picking up firewood, and he had a big bundle of firewood next to him. When he reached his home area, he saw demons of fear, of hatred, of greed. He opened his eyes and looked, and they were dancing all around him, taunting him. He didn’t know what to do. His first impulse was to take up a stick of firewood and begin to chase them. And the more he chased them, the more they laughed at him. They were delighted, “Ooo, we’re really getting to him!” So he saw that chasing them wouldn’t work.

So he sat and looked at them for a while, and thought, “Maybe they’ve always been here and I just never noticed them. All right, I’ll just be present with them, watch them.” When he stopped chasing them, most of them got bored and left in time. But there was one big demon with bulging eyes, big fangs, long claws, who followed Milarepa. Wherever Milarepa went, this demon was right behind.

Milarepa pondered this a bit. “What do I do?” And finally he realized there was only one option. He walked up to this demon, put his head in the demon’s cavernous mouth, and said, “Eat me.” This is a hard practice. It’s saying you are me and I am you, and I end the separation. No more me as the good one, you as the bad one. “Eat me. Let us merge.” Only when we allow ourselves to merge with that which appears negative, without losing that within us which is affirmed to the positive, to love, to compassion, to wisdom, only when we allow that merging can there be any learning, because only in this way can we begin to have compassion for that which has been seen as negative, out there and within, and invite the healing of it. And only then as our own innate compassion emerges can the – I can’t use the word “other,” there is no self or other –what is seen as the other, begin to discover its own innate compassion, and begin the journey from darkness into light. As long as we assign it as the dark and we are the light then it must maintain itself as the dark. Can we allow it to emerge into light? Can we invite it through acknowledgment of our own darkness, and the non-duality of darkness in ourselves?

So as you fret over this candidate, please remember the power that his presence gives you to heal yourselves, to heal the world.

I would like to tell a story here which is really Barbara’s story to tell. But I don’t want to bring her out of a trance, so I will tell it for her. Many years ago, in 1960, she was picketing at a company that built nuclear submarines, a non-violent demonstration. They were picketing there every week. This was the first time she had been there. Many people surrounded the picketers, angry because these picketers were saying, “No, what you are doing as a livelihood, we feel is wrong.”

One man came up to her; he was very belligerent and perhaps a bit intoxicated. He pushed Barbara hard so she fell over on the ground. Following what she had been taught, and remember this is an 18-year-old woman, not very knowledgeable in worldly ways, but she covered her head and just stayed down. He kicked at her with his foot, not hard enough to break ribs. She could tell he was more interested in humiliating her and creating discomfort than doing damage. Finally people pulled him off. Others helped her to stand up. She picked up her sign, she continued her picketing. As they pulled him away, he said, “I’ll see you next week, if you’re not too scared.”

Well, she was not only scared, she was terrified, as she puts it. But she knew she had to come back. Week after week this scenario played itself out. She has said if she had it to do today, she would probably do it a bit differently, would have confronted him in a non-violent way, rather than just curling up and letting herself be kicked; would have stood up and said, “No, you may not kick me” in a peaceful and loving way. But then, as a youth, she just covered her head and stayed on the ground.

Week after week after week this dance proceeded. Finally, as he pushed her over and she went down, as she lay there on the ground, she thought to herself, “Maybe I’m not so bad. So much anger has come up during these weeks, even hatred, but I have not kicked him. I have not hit him. I have not scolded him.” Somehow that opened a place of compassion for herself, which opened a place of compassion for him. Out of that compassionate energy there was a shift. She looked up at him. It was the first time they really made eye contact. She had not yet covered her head, she was on the ground looking at him. He said to her, “Why do you keep coming back?” And she said, “Why do you keep coming back?” He gave her his hand, helped her stand up. They looked at each other and made the decision, with his comrades and hers, to go off to a local pizza place and talk.

As she tells it, when people have asked her what made the difference, what opened the dialogue, she “Compassion for us both.”

This is the same as putting your head in the demon’s mouth. What allows us to do that is our deep commitment to being as loving as we are able to be in each moment. To supporting that which is of love and light in the world, even when there is fear, even when there is anger. How do you learn this? That’s the question. So here I want to begin to share some of the, let’s just call them exercises and practices of non-duality that can lead you to be present with anger without being self-identified with it, present with fear without being self-identified with it.

Let’s start with a simple statement: that which is aware of anger is not angry. That which is aware of fear is not afraid. We are not saying there is no anger or fear, only we will not become lost in it but will remember that which is not angry, not afraid, right there with the fear and anger. Opening the heart.

I would ask you to begin in a simple way. Bring into your thoughts, into your mind and your heart, an incident in the past week which was uncomfortable for you, a situation in which there was fear or anger, greed, jealousy or impatience. Everything in this conditioned world arises out of conditions and ceases when the conditions cease. If this emotion arose, it’s because there were certain conditions to support the arising. It’s not who you are, but it has arisen in you and you are responsible to it.

Whatever has the nature to arise also has the nature to cease. But that’s a, let’s call it a movement. It arises and it passes away. This is the mundane realm. In the unconditioned realm there is nothing arising and nothing ceasing.

Imagine, if you will, watching the sun rise and set from your home on the earth. In the morning it seems like the sun rises. It crosses the sky and at night it sets. It’s gone. The next day, there it comes again, rising. Yes, here is the sun! Ooo! It’s gone!

Now climb in a spaceship with me and let’s go out, out and out into space, to a place far enough away that we can see the orb of the earth and the orb of the sun and how the earth is simply moving around the sun and on its own axis. Turning, moving around as the seasons pass. Did anything really arise or cease? Yet this is certainly the illusion.

When a painful physical sensation or emotion arises, we think, here it is! But it really is simply the result of conditions. It has always been theer and the conditions revealed it. Let’s use a simple example. Perhaps you were abused in some way as a child. Perhaps the abuser had a certain kind of appearance— maybe heavyset with a grimace and a tense energy. You are taking a walk and somebody approaches you, a heavyset person with a grimace and a contracted energy. Can you see how fear will arise? The seed of the  fear was always there; it arose because of conditions. It has nothing to do with the person who’s approaching you, it has to do with your conditioning. The prior conditions give rise to an idea: this person is going to be challenging to me, is going to create something painful for me. So you contract. You walk up to him and say, “Why are you angry at me?” He’s in such a mood that he pushes you, and you push back.

Now let’s go back a step. This man, he just found out that he lost his job. He got to work that morning and was given a slip saying, “You’re finished.” He was expected to be gone all day, and when he got home, he found his wife in bed with another man. He’s had a tough morning; he lost his job and he’s found his wife is cheating on him. He’s angry! He’s in pain. It has nothing to do with you. You perceived, his anger, then, “Oh, it must be about me.”

What if you had walked up to him and said, “You look like you’re in a lot of pain. Can I be of any help to you? I have a thermos of tea with me. Would you like to sit down and have a cup of tea with me and talk about it?” Ahh, suddenly his heart opens. He starts to cry. He says, “Thank you so much.” And suddenly he doesn’t look so tough. He doesn’t look like the person who would abuse you. He looks like a human who needs your compassion. It changes everything because you have not gotten caught up in the story, “This is a monster!” But, “Can I be of help?” In a sense, you’ve put your head in the demon’s mouth.

It’s very hard to do, because some of the stories that come grab us so hard, and are so painful. So we start with the intention, which we need really to hold every morning as we arise: Today my highest intention is to serve with love and the open heart. To be compassionate to myself and others. To do no harm, but only good. And whatever catalyst comes to me, I will welcome it as a teacher. I will watch fear and even hatred arise, and notice them as objects arisen from conditions, knowing this came because of past conditioning, this fear, this anger, this jealousy, this greed. And no matter how many thousands of times this has arisen and I’ve reacted to it, today I hold the intention not to react, or at least to hold more space around this self who has reacted. So we start with the intention to be increasingly loving in our lives.

Compassion does not mean letting people bulldoze you. Compassion is strong and it knows how to say no. But it says no with kindness, not with hatred. It’s something that each of you needs to learn and is capable of learning. And beyond that, each of you is here on earth literally to learn it. You are here to express the innate loving kindness of your true being. It is hard, but it’s possible.

There’s a beautiful Buddhist sutra on right effort. Some of the words are, “Abandon the unwholesome. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it. Cultivate the wholesome. If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.” But it is possible.

He goes on to say, it is possible and you can do it, as you cultivate a special kind of intention and effort, let’s call it non-grasping effort. The effort to stay as centered in the loving heart as possible, and to know this deepest essence of your own and all beings.

You’ll notice I am not suggesting the anger is unreal, the fear is unreal, the greed is unreal. These are real experiences. You are human; they come to you. The question is not whether these experiences will arise but how you will relate to them. If you relate by judging yourself, feeling shame, it closes you up. When you relate with loving kindness, it helps the heart stay open. And then you can be kind with what has arisen for yourself, and because of that kindness, the one who is stalking you, pointing fingers at you, blaming you, doesn’t feel judged. How do we open the door for people like this political candidate, who seems so filled with negativity? Through kindness.

There’s one more teaching story I would share. Please don’t draw parallels. This is merely a teaching story. There was a murderer. They called him Angulamala. A mala is a necklace and angula in that language was a digit, a finger. He killed people, cut off their fingers, and threaded them on a grisly necklace. He was a murderer filled with much hate. He despised himself, so he despised other people.

The story goes that the Buddha came into a town. Somebody opened a door and said, “Come inside quickly! Angulamala is out there on the streets. He’ll kill you!” The Buddha said, “Thank you very much for warning me,” and he just walked on. Somebody else said, “Come inside!” “It’s okay,” and he walked on.

Sure enough, as he walked down the street he heard behind him a shout. “You there, stop!” The Buddha kept walking. The voice coming closer. “I told you to stop!” The Buddha kept walking. Finally this person came around and stood in front of him, and the Buddha could see the grisly mala around his neck. “I told you to stop! Do you know who I am? I’ll kill you in an instant!” The Buddha looked him in the eyes and simply said, “I have stopped. It’s you who have not stopped.” I have stopped, it’s you who have not stopped. Powerful words!

Angulamala at that point fell to the ground, sobbing, aware of the truth of these words. This man who prided himself on his power and ability to do everything, he could do everything but stop acting out his hatred and fear. He said to the Buddha, “Will you teach me?” The Buddha said yes. He became a monk. Through many years as a monk, he found ways to release and purify this hatred of himself and others, to allow the innate loving kindness in himself to emerge. He had a lot of practice because he went from town to town with the Buddha and the group of monks, and when people saw him, they screamed, “Angulamala!” and they threw rocks and rotten fruit at him. He was a monk, shaved head, dressed in his monks’ robes, and he simply allowed himself to be pummeled, knowing that he had brought this onto himself.

Eventually the power of his presence won the people over, and instead of saying, “It’s Angulamala! Kill him!”, they said, “It’s Angulamala, the one who has opened his heart, who has learned to love.” And they began to love him. Each of you has this power in yourself. This is part of putting your head in the demon’s mouth.

So let’s talk now for a few minutes on how to do this in a practical way. I would like one of you out there to go to the freezer and get ice cubes and some paper towels. We will bring some ice cubes and paper towels into the room, so those here may try it and you may try it. Please get your ice cube. I won’t talk anymore until you come back…

I want you to take the ice cube and hold it in one hand with the paper towel… I’d like you to take the ice cube and rest it on the back of one hand. Just resting it on your hand. Every physical sensation, every emotion, every thought, is either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. When you first put it on your hand, it probably feels neutral. Cold, but not unpleasant. Lift it off again… Can you feel that neutral sensation? Can you feel your energy field? It stays open. Maybe it’s a little closed, “What’s he going to ask me to do?” But basically it stays open. Before you put it back, let me talk for a minute.

When you put it back, it’s going to be cold and increasingly unpleasant. Which is predominant, the coldness, even a burning sensation, or the aversion? We see  “unpleasant,” and the aversion to unpleasant experience? They’re two different things. One is direct physical sensation and one is how you relate to it. Aversion: “I don’t want this.” As you put it on and hold it, remember it’s not going to harm you. I’m not going to have you keep it there long enough to cause damage to the tissue.

As you put it back on— not yet— as you put it on, begin to watch the movement from neutral into unpleasant, into strong aversion. “I don’t want this!” When does unpleasant sensation shift to aversion? Watch how your whole energy field contracts with aversion. How does that feel? Try this now, and then we’ll take it a step further… Just holding it on the back of your hand, watching the shift from neutral to unpleasant, and then perhaps a predominant feeling of aversion. Watch how the body energy contracts. “I don’t want this!”

Then compassion for this human being. Maybe there was a judging thought, “I shouldn’t mind this.” Note that you’re judging. “Feeling shame;” “I should be able to do this without minding it.” Well, I said you were going to dislike it. Nobody suggested it would be comfortable. Life brings us uncomfortable experiences. It happens. The question is how will you relate to it. And you will relate in your habitual pattern. If you always judge yourself and say, “I should not mind it,” that’s probably how you relate. If you relate by gritting your teeth, that’s probably habitual for you. If you relate by throwing the ice cube across the room after 30 seconds, that’s probably habitual for you. Is it starting to get really unpleasant? (Group: Yes.) Can you watch the distinction between the unpleasant sensation and the aversion to the sensation? Can you watch your body energy field contracting around the unpleasant sensation? Your whole body, cellular level, energy level. At this point, say, “breathing in, I am aware of the discomfort. Breathing out, I hold space for the discomfort.” Bringing love to this human being who is experiencing discomfort.

As you practice this form of compassion for yourself, loving kindness for yourself, letting the sensation continue, I want you to note if the sensation changes in a subtle way, becomes less uncomfortable, a little more tolerable. There’s not so much fear of it. There’s not so much contraction around it. It is literally just unpleasant sensation, and it will pass.

At any point, please feel free to remove the ice cube. You can continue, you can put it back on, you can stop. If it’s useful to take a minute’s break and do it again, you can do that, or just call it enough.

I want to hear if people can really feel the distinction. Unpleasant experience will arise. It’s part of being human. Aversion to the unpleasant experience will arise. That’s also part of being human. The physical body feels the sensation and it’s unpleasant, the mental body feels aversion to the sensation. The emotions arise and mind begins to judge, or whatever else arises.

Right there with all of this happening is your innate compassion and loving kindness, which can never be destroyed. It is not either/ or.  Compassion is always accessible to you, no matter how bad things become, how uncomfortable. This innate loving kindness is always there. This really is the heart of non-duality. If there was never discomfort, we couldn’t call it non-duality. But because there is discomfort— physical, emotional, mental discomfort— and simultaneously the loving heart, this is the non-duality.

If you feel you’re finished with the exercise, you may release your ice cubes…

Whatever arises, you have a choice how you are going to relate to it. You don’t always have a choice about what will arise, but you do have a choice how you will relate to it. When you learn to trust the innate radiance of your heart, the innate loving kindness, it fills the world.

What happens to a bully who is treated with firm compassion? Not, “Oh no, don’t bully me!” Not punching him back, but just holding space and saying, “No, you may not do that.” You may have to do it twenty times before this bully is ready to step back from his bullying stance a bit. But such a bully always comes to his bullying from a place of insecurity and a dislike of himself. When you hate the bully, it builds up his bullying, builds up the crowd of other bullies around him, gives him power, and draws forth the subtle bully in yourself, because you’re not able to put your head in the demon’s mouth. You’re not able to look at that which has the potential to be a bully in you, if you are afraid enough and angry enough.

How do we relate to what’s happening in the world today, the terrorists – not just terrorists, but people who steal and kill and plunder out of greed, the political figures who abuse power— how do we relate to all of these saying a compassionate no? Can we thank them for giving us the opportunity to practice in saying no, yet still offer that clear, “No!”

If we have time, there is one other exercise I would like to try with you. A few of you are alone, you’re just going to have to watch the exercise and try it when you have someone with you. I apologize that I am offering an exercise that all of you cannot do. But you can learn it.

This is a tai chi exercise call pushing arms, and we’ve done it many times. Will the two of you demonstrate it? (Two people demonstrate) So he is going to push hard, and she is going to push back… Shoving match. Now he pushes hard and she collapses, runs away… She gets up and pushes back, he runs away… Enough. This is how life often presents itself.

Now, she is going to push, and he, instead of pushing back, is going to absorb the energy… (Aaron joins them) Push, push again… I’m just letting it run past me, and I’m feeding it back. Push… You’re getting angry now! I can stand here forever. I’m feeding the energy back to her…How long can she continue— 20 minutes, an hour? I can stand here and do this for hours because it’s effortless for me, but for her it takes a lot of energy… Thank you. If time we will try this later.

At this point I’d like to hear from you. The ice cube exercise, what did you get out of it?

Q: Initially with the ice cube I watched myself being aware that (inaudible) bothered me. I’m not sure if I was reacting to the thought that it would bother me or that it was really bothering me. So I could barely tolerate the ice cube on the back of my hand. And I went through the maneuvers of taking it off and putting it back on. And eventually I reached the state where I didn’t feel it. It was not bothering me. And I again was watching my reaction. So it became very clear that the more that I was involved in the thoughts that went with this activity with the ice cube, that I was more resistant. Whereas if I just experienced it as something happening, without being concerned or getting too caught up in the thoughts that went with it, it was much more of a neutral experience.

Aaron: Thank you. We have to be careful not to deny or suppress human experience. The body has sense receptors and if there’s pain, there will be pain. The ice cube sensation doesn’t suddenly go away, but there’s so much more space around it so it’s easier to tolerate.

A wonderful place to practice is in the dentist’s chair.

Q: I was there today!

Aaron: Unpleasant experience, yes. Tolerable. Made much worse when you’re contracted. Thank you. Others?

Q: Thank you for this opportunity to do that, because I had an interesting discovery that came quite quickly for me. It didn’t take long for me to want the ice cube off my hand. So I went from neutral to, I would say, extreme discomfort quickly. So what I did was, I felt myself almost automatically disassociate. And I found this interesting because I was able to tie this to my life. So when I get in difficult situations that are painful, I check out. And I had not made that association before so acutely until today, with that wonderful ice cube. So thank you.

Aaron: You’re very welcome. Thank you. We watch the habitual patterns that are predominant, each different for each of us. For one it might be anger, another, helplessness, to dissociate, to try to control. To simply be present. And we begin to see just because I’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean I have to do it that way now. It’s increasing the suffering. What option do I have? What happens when I am just present? And it’s here you discover the power of the loving heart.

Once you start to learn that power, it changes everything because it becomes a firm ground where you may always rest. No matter what’s going on around you, you can rest in that spaciousness and clarity. You start to trust: I am that. And that anger, the fear and whatever, arise when certain conditions are present. Then you begin to find that the more compassionate you are with the self that contracts and gets caught in conditions, the less you contract, and the less you get caught.

The ice cube doesn’t then begin to feel good, it still hurts. The push doesn’t become pleasant. But pushing is just pushing. Coldness is just cold. These experiences are part of being human. It’s as simple as that.

Thank you. Others?

Q: I am wondering how the pushing hands can be done with feelings or inner thoughts that are harsh or pushy. Is it just the allowing and observing that would work in the same way as the absorbing energies?

Aaron: Interesting question. I’m aware that I didn’t have you stand up and try the pushing arms, so we can do that later. And in response to the question, you might try to look at another person who holds anger. And then, how do you relate to the anger? Somebody is sending angry energy at you; how do you habitually relate? Not pushing back with anger, not falling away or running away, but just present. — I am trying this looking into the  screen but  I can’t see you looking at me with anger, though  perhaps you can see me looking at you with anger. —It doesn’t work because I have to be able to see you. It has to work both ways. But when the other person sees you— look at me with anger, real anger! (addressing one person)  How long can you maintain that anger with my heart open and present with you? Look at me with anger… You can’t maintain it, can you? So that is my response to her question.

Now if somebody is coming at you with a club or a knife and you simply look at them with kindness, there’s no guarantee they’re not going to use the club or the knife first, because they’re not looking in your eyes. But that loving energy has enormous power.

Again, a story of Barbara’s, one that she has told before. This, a sit-in in a small southern town. A violent crowd had gathered. She and a young white man and a middle-aged black couple entered the restaurant. People had attempted to integrate this restaurant for several weeks, and an angry mob had thrown rocks at them, hit them. The people inside, the four of them understood that they could be badly hurt or even killed. But they felt a strong commitment to be there, to speak their truth.

After sitting and meditating for about half an hour they all were ready, and they got up. Barbara could hear then. They could hear the sounds of people yelling nasty things outside. The power of love is so strong. They walked to the door. Yes, they were afraid, but they were not consumed with fear or anger, and they were spacious and compassionate to themselves for the fear.

They walked to the door. Barbara relates how she just walked out and met people’s eyes. Some people continued to look angry, some deflated. Many who carried clubs or rocks dropped them. The four of them holding hands just walked out. Not smiling, not grinning at people, just present, acknowledging the pain of the other person and their own pain. But holding that space of love, they walked out, and the crowd just fell apart, separated and let them walk through and into the car, in which they were driven away.

Gandhi’s word, Satyagraha means soul force—. The power of the loving soul. And the acknowledgment, “Yes, I could be killed doing this.” But at that point I forgive the one who considers killing me, because I know I’m just pushing them a little further than they’re ready to go right now. I am offering the catalyst.  I accept that, and I forgive. I love you anyhow.

Let’s let the people here try the pushing arms exercise.

(exercise)

So you can try this more in a different situation. When you are pushed to contract, that happens. You’re human. Then a story arises, “He/she is trying to push me. I’m being bullied.” I heard from a lot of people that the visual at the last debate, when Mr. Trump walked behind Mrs. Clinton and stood behind her glowering, that it brought up so much pain and fear and anger for them. Bullying.

Somebody come and stand behind me. Who wants to volunteer? See if you can look as angry as he looked. (laughter) He’s too sweet, he can’t really look angry! (laughter) It’s intimidating to experience that kind of bullying. All across the nation, so many people, especially women, but men also, felt real discomfort at that movement.

Turning to the “bully”; thank you, teacher, thank you. The world is full of bullies. How are we going to practice saying no with compassion? Allow their energy and give it back, rather than trying to push back or running away. This is the only way that we can teach the bullies and help them continue their own progression into the light. This is your service, and their service. That doesn’t mean we let them win, to control, to dominate. We say no with compassion. In this case, saying no with compassion means going out to vote. You all have that ability.

I don’t want to demonize one candidate. Obviously nobody is perfect. I think what’s important here is to recognize that wherever you see negativity, it comes as a teacher, and you have the opportunity to decide how you will relate to it. To relate with compassion that knows how to say no, to watch fear and anger arise also as objects, also as bullies. The fear is a bully, the anger is a bully. How do you relate to that in yourself?

So this election is such a profound learning experience for all of you. And also, as with the pushing arms exercise, you don’t let the bully push you over. You come back, absorb his energy, absorb the negative candidate’s energy and give it back. How do you give back the energy? “No, no. You may not do that.”

I would love to see her, right there on the stage in the debate, turn to him and say, “It’s my turn. You may not interrupt .” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if she could do that? Maybe we can teach her the pushing arms exercise!

That’s enough of the formal talk. I’d like to leave time for questions. In a minute I’ll open the floor to all of you here live and on the computer screen.

Let me say one last thing, to tie it up. Non-duality, where we started. Living non-duality. Fully compassionate to the human in whom fear, anger, discomfort, pain, all of these will arise. And also knowing they have arisen from conditions. They do not identify me or any of us. Who I am is not anger. Who I am is a human experiencing fear or anger or pain, a human whose core essence is radiance and love, and I choose to express that and not the negativity. But never with denial of the painful sensation or emotion, only with compassion for it, and holding space for it, like the ice cube, until it stops being a dominating force. Living non-duality. Thank you.

Your questions?

Q: One thing that concerned me on Monday or Tuesday. (Vice presidential candidate) Pence was in Pennsylvania. A woman said that if the female candidate won there would be a revolution. So is our best approach to work on any negativity we might feel in ourselves, so that we are giving off love? Or is the best approach to send light to that person for clarity?

Aaron: Both. Not sending light, offering light. Sending is pushing it, and she may not be ready to accept it. Offering. But also knowing, especially if the female candidate wins, that this is at least a slight majority. I’ve spoken of this before. Your world is emerging into a higher consciousness. What I call the loyal opposition is terrified, sees how you are emerging into the light, and is saying, “No! No! No! Don’t let this happen!” The more light and love you project in the world, the more uncomfortable this loyal opposition becomes.

But we cannot win anyone over by force, only by love, by being the love that you wish to see in the world, as it’s often stated. Furthermore, when you are afraid, “What if there’s a revolution?” in a sense you’re manifesting that revolution. When you say, “Okay, I can’t control what anybody will do, but I choose to see peace on this earth, joy, love. And if people move into some kind of revolt, to trust our police and military, those who are loving within these law enforcement agencies, to control any revolution. I trust our process as a free country with free speech.” Otherwise we’re simply creating more negativity. So it’s hard, but can you really trust the process?

It was pointed out that in the male candidate’s threatening the female one, that he’ll put her in prison, he’s basically taking away the freedoms, overstepping the freedoms that have made this country great. He’s saying, “Make America great again.” To make America great again is to trust the greatness of what has been planted here, the heart of loving kindness, the freedom of speech. This is the only country in the world, perhaps, where there has not been violent revolution after a political election. Can we trust that that won’t happen? Can we see millions of people saying no to their angry neighbors, the pushing arms, dancing with their neighbors’ anger? Helping people to learn. Knowing this is possible.

One more bit, here, and I find this very interesting as I’ve watched the male candidate. I’d be curious to know if some of you have noticed this. There are two different… there are two of him. One is the human and one is quite literally an entity who incorporates into his body. His whole face changes, his breathing changes, his eyes change. There is a dramatic difference. So he’s in a sense being “possessed” by this negative entity. The way to oust the entity is with love. Holding compassion for the male candidate and for the negative entity that is incorporating into his body and control, and saying, “No, not in this country. You can’t do that. No. I wish you well. I wish you happiness. When I say, ‘I wish you well,’ not that you win, but I wish you well in terms of happiness and peace. This is what I believe in, and I offer it to you.” And the more love that is projected at this negative entity, the less power he’ll have, the more he’ll scream and run around and act crazy until he finally stops. So this is offering all of you the opportunity to learn how to say no to such negativity.

Other questions or comments? I find it interesting that many of you have seen that two parts of him.

Q: It’s very hard for me to look at.

Aaron: Because in your imagination he is the embodiment of “evil.” But of course there is no such thing as absolute evil. Because he has allowed himself to be so self-serving and so self-centered, a strong negative entity, very strong, can work through him. But if enough people see that, he can’t be elected. So we just educate.

And I want to ask forgiveness from anybody out there for whom I’m stepping on toes. I doubt if there’s anybody listening to me who supports what I’m calling a negatively polarized candidate. But if there is, you are certainly entitled to your beliefs. Simply, hold your heart open and ask, does this man truly represent the depth of my own heart? Remembering there is no absolute good or evil. We’re talking about non-duality here. This man was a baby once who was loved by his parents. This man was a father who held his newborn infant in his arms and cherished the newborn infant. Remember that side of this man.

Others?

Q: Is this deep negativity coming about so we can see it and send love to it and release it? Is that part of this process?

Aaron: It’s very much a part of the process, and beyond that. So many of you have been in denial about the depth of negativity in yourselves, the depth of your ability to hate. If you saw somebody capture somebody you loved, your child, your spouse, you parent, threaten to slit their throat with a knife, actually do it, could you watch that without hating that person? Yet that hatred does not have to become manifest. Right there with hatred is love. Can you both allow the experience of contracted hate and know this has arisen from conditions. and know, “unlike this murderer, I will not manifest this hate”?

There are such beautiful stories of people in dire circumstances, such as in concentration camps, who have learned to forgive their captors. I read one story of woman whose son was killed by a murderer. It took her some time to work with her pain and rage, maybe a year or several years. But eventually, after the man was convicted, she asked permission to go and visit him and she became a weekly visitor. He helped heal her, and she helped heal him. The power of this healing is profound.

So I would say yes to your question, yet it goes beyond that. It’s the power of forgiveness and love, and to really know that this is possible. And that that this is what the whole transition of consciousness on earth is about. That as earth moves into a higher vibrational planet with this very high light/love vibration, those of strong negative polarity will not choose to remain here. They won’t be destroyed; they’ll move to some other negatively polarized planet that is not yet ready for this degree of love and light. But the earth itself is ready. It’s moving into this transition. And it needs this kind of catalyst to shake you up enough to make a clear free-will choice: no matter what the catalyst, I will not enact my fear and hatred and do harm to others. Once you hold that commitment, you find ways to practice it. And then the consciousness breaks open. It’s happening. The question is not whether it will happen, it’s more about how relatively painful or painless that transition can be. And if enough of you learn how to hold love to such negativity, the transition can be relatively painless.

Q: So also part of this is so that we as a nation are looking at our pain that we have created. And this is part of the result of that?

Aaron: It’s very much a karmic result. The pain that you’ve created for so many generations through various types of hatred against people of different races, different religions, different sexual orientations; finally breaking through that hatred, forgiving yourselves, and stepping past it. Loving one another.

It’s also part of your preparation, if you can’t say no to this negative candidate and his supporters, how can you say no to terrorists who kill babies and mothers and rape young women and so forth? You can’t say no to them with hatred. So he’s giving you an opportunity to practice saying no to something much less powerful than their destruction. How do we say no with more love, more compassion.

I would ask you to picture this man holding his newborn infant, and wish him and his newborn infant well. I would ask you to picture his mother holding him as a newborn infant, a new innocent baby —yes, with some strongly negative karma, but not yet manifest in this infant. Just practicing loving kindness with him. And I would ask you to watch him perhaps as the school yard bully, because he was bullied. So he’s 5 years old now and he’s punching other kids. Can you stop him there? Not by hitting him, not by hating him, but by gathering him up and letting him know that you hear his pain, but never diminishing him. If you do that energetically, at some level he’s going to pick that up, him and all his supporters. And this is the transformation that you have the ability to put into motion. You have the ability to manifest this.

Other questions?

Q: I feel bullied because I don’t support the female candidate. I do not believe she is fit to be president. I’m almost helpless. So the answer is to ask to be eaten by the demon, her?

Aaron: Which demon are you more comfortable with, the male candidate demon or the female? You are within both and  them within you. Eat me! Which one do you think will be more receptive after the election to bringing forth the changes that you hope to see in the country and the world? Which one do you think has the greater capacity to listen? Which one do you think has the capacity to learn? I’m not answering this for you; I’m simply asking you to consider this because one of these two is going to win, no matter how much people like to consider the possibility of a third party candidate. It seems extremely unlikely to me that right now in this country that’s possible. Maybe in four years, but not now. A third party really has to emerge and gain strength. And if you vote for a third party candidate, basically you’re taking a vote away from your preferred candidate. But I return to the question: not which one to vote for, but knowing that you don’t trust either, which one do you feel even subtly more inclined to be able to trust to hear you and to act with some degree of dignity and honor? That’s for each of you to decide. No one can decide it for you.

Q: My question is about the feelings of being bullied.

Aaron: How does it feel to be bullied? What does it bring up in you? Watch the fear, the pain, the anger that it brings up. Do a lot of loving kindness meditation with yourself, holding yourself very tenderly in your heart. Find that which is clear and strong and loving in you and which cannot be destroyed by bullying. Begin to know the power of that love. And in that way, you are overcoming the bully, within and out there. You are saying no to the bully. He/ she can’t bully you if you don’t allow yourself to be bullied. Please respond if you wish.

Q2: Please let her know there’s a loving kindness meditation on the Deep Spring website.

Aaron: I see that it’s past 9 o’clock so as interesting as this conversation is, we’ll need to put it to an end. When we next meet, we will have a president elected! We’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, talk to your friends. Try to help support your friends to learn how to be pushed and dance with the pushes, to come back into their own strength, the power of love that is their innate power and essence, and know that it cannot be destroyed. Trust. You did not enter into this situation to destroy yourselves individually or as a nation. You have not intended, none of you, including the candidates, to destroy the world. The world is your learning space. If the world is destroyed, none of you can keep learning. So trust that, and ask, how can I live from this place of love? How can I support others living that, without denial of my fear, my confusion, my feelings of powerlessness, my anger. How can I hold it together?

Know that there are many loving beings supporting this transition. And we will not abandon you. We are here to help. But we will never force our help on you. If you seek help, ask for it. My blessings and love to you all.

(session ends)

Grandson’s Request for an Easy-going Introduction to Meditation

Dearest Alex — Thank you so very much for the lovely brunch we shared the other morning.  I so enjoy spending time with you.  Love anticipating it, love being with you, love remembering it.  Crazy eh?  Guess I simply love you.

You asked me about meditation.  So you hit me right where I truly live and I’m going to type into this email a bit of general instructions that you can look over and maybe they will serve you as you de-stress.

First of all, know that you can quiet the mind, spirit and inner agitation whether “sitting, standing, walking or lying down” to quote the ancient masters.  And there is no special place you have to be.  The old instructions mention leaving town and going to sit under a tree.  There is no doubt that nature gives us the most supportive place, but, not to worry, you can find the inner peace on a train, in a bus, at your desk, walking from here to there, standing at a window, stopping anywhere and just being there.

Sometimes I teach a curious an acronym — BRFWA — doesn’t spell anything but sums up the qualities of this practice.  I learned it in my yoga training at Kripalu.  It stands for breathe, relax, feel, watch and allow.

BREATHE — This is so basic it would seem unnecessary to mention.  But the breath is truly the link in the body/mind loop.    We change our whole autonomic nervous system when we observe and take control of our breath.  We literally move from fight or flight to easy does it.  At any moment, we can stop and take three conscious breaths.  At any time when we have stopped and are trying to unwind, it will be the breath and the clear awareness of the breath in some detail that will settle us down.  So “know if you are taking in a long breath, know if you are taking in a short breath, know if you are letting out a long/short breath” quoting the Buddha directly.  Find the apertures or spaces  in the breath, between the inhale and the exhale.  Rest there.  Just let nothing be happening.  Return to this breath awareness at any moment in life that gets tough.  This can be done at a party with a drink in your hand.

RELAX — As the central experience of meditating mindfully is to simply be able to let the stuff of the mind come and go with no attachment, I am convinced that relaxation is what makes this all happen.  A great time to practice is after a workout.  I use my yoga for this, but I could see stopping after a good run or time in the gym.  At those moments, the body is a bit used up and so willing to be still. A still body encourages a still mind.  At the very least some stretches, loosening of the shoulders, releasing the jaw, getting comfortable are all strategies that bring us to the optimum place to “sit” which may or may not be in a chair.

FEEL — The body is always in the present momentreturning to a clear knowing of how the body is will pay dividends.  Some masters advocate a scanning of the body — mentally sweeping one’s awareness from head to feet and back again.  We can let this careful experience of the body help relieve any mental stress that is bugging us.  Along with the  awareness of how it is with us physically is the knowing of what’s going on with our emotions.  Just noticing any anxiety, fear, wanting of things to be different somehow — here is the heart of the practice. 

WATCH — OK so we’re just noticing, just watching.  No judgement, comment, no decision making.  Just a strong feeling experience.  I also think that huge doses of kindness to oneself can come into play here.  This is especially true if pain, mental or physical, is present.  And even more especially true if the pain or distress is self inflicted.  And in just observing things as they are we let go of controlling the situation.   In classic instruction this is often called “choiceless awareness.”  We really have no idea what the mind is going to cook up next or what itch or body sensation will surface.  But here we have taken a time-out, however brief or long, to simply be with ourselves.  And we’re paying attention.  This whole business is not asking of us something we do not know how to do.  We can notice.  We can pay attention.  Simple.  Easy even.  But practicing it regularly is rather unusual you could say.

ALLOW — One teacher I’ve learned from says that this whole practice is like being a child again in the back seat of the car.  You are not controlling this experience and really have no say in where it’s going.  I remember times in my parents car very vividly even to this day.  Often I would be pressing my nose against a window in the back seat and just seeing what was going by with no particular energy.  As I have practiced again and again watching my mind bring up thoughts and stories and observed sounds, smells or body sensations around me, I have become stronger and stronger in the ability to allow the world, my life, to unfold as it does — to allow the meditation experience to unfold as it does.  This does not mean that I have become a passive ninny but knowing what’s happening and allowing it without resistance gives me the ability to then work with the moment from a place of peace.  I no longer have to “try” or force events in my life. And when a truly big moment comes (grandpa’s death) I am right there, not running from it, not wishing it away, but simply present.  From that stance, I can operate with more kindness, clarity and effectiveness.

Well, my dearest one, I can only hope that these words are helpful to you.  Your grandfather and I began to learn such things in our early thirties.  So you are ahead of us already asking to know this stuff in your late twenties.  I can only say that this practice so very much contributed to real happiness in both our lives. And  I know you realize the inner strength, fortitude that he had as he faced the end of his days.  Deep happiness, less struggle and suffering, clear strength — pretty wonderful payoff for a few minutes a day of stopping to relax and breathe.

I wish you well with all this and am right here any time to talk about it again.

Love you so dearly, Grandma

Private: Karma, Helming and a Past Life from Aaron

May 11, 2016 Wednesday, private session for 2 people. Aaron incorporates during a conversation we three were having.

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Aaron: Barbara, Q1 and Q2 were talking about how we can purify karma for ourselves and for others in a lifetime. There was a being that I was 2,000 years ago, not the lifetime in which I knew Jeshua but a later lifetime. There was very little care for lepers in those days. I was experienced in healing, and I went from one leper colony to another trying to help people. Read more