Indigenize!

Rekindle Your Wild Joy and sense of deep Belonging through spiritual ecopsychology and the arts, incl. bioregional awareness, animistic perspectives, strategies for simple living, & low/no-tech DIY fun.

Love as a Practice February 14, 2017

The following is an essay written by my contradancing pal Lynn Ungar, who also happens to be a UU Minister, raiser of show dogs, and a very fine contemplative thinker. It’s reblogged from the UU website; full link below.

She reframes love from an exclusive romantic destination to a daily practice for everyone. I find this very timely right now, and hope you benefit from my sharing it here. As you read Lynn’s suggestions, please also consider how you might add small acts of kindness to the earth. Done out of love, these changes of behavior can turn in the heart from a burden to a joy.

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         Valentine’s Day, by 

I could be wrong, but I rather suspect that Valentine’s Day is the most widely despised holiday in the country. Really, unless you’re in the small minority of people who are in the throes of romantic passion, what’s to like? You don’t get a day off of work, there’s no religious ceremony or significance, and for weeks ahead of time the stores are filled with a boatload of pink and red crap that nobody needs, and hardly anybody actually wants. Jewelry store commercials aside, the number of lives that would be improved by the gift of a heart-shaped diamond is, I suspect, shockingly small

Worse than that, for many people the holiday is an affront. If you are single, it’s a reminder that society expects people to pair up, and a suggestion that you are probably a loser because you’re alone. If you’re in a long-term relationship that has become more centered on helping with homework and making sure that there is milk in the frig than on lust and making googly eyes at one another, it’s a reminder that popular culture is obsessed with passion and falling in love, and no one will ever make a blockbuster movie that looks anything like your life. If you’re gay or lesbian or in any kind of non-traditional relationship you know that there probably isn’t going to be a card in the drugstore that is in any way designed with your kind of love in mind. And if you’ve recently been through a break-up, or your relationship is going through a rocky period from which it may or may not recover, or your spouse has died, well, then Valentine’s Day is pretty much designed for your own personal torture.

So here’s my suggestion: Maybe a better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than by buying candy and flowers would be to embrace the fact that love is often difficult. Rather than a day about romance, why not a day for concentrating on loving something or someone that makes you uncomfortable?

You might want to start by loving your crooked toe, or your stretch marks, or the flabby skin on the back of your arms. Anoint them with lotion, and a long, loving look, and consider the possibility that they really don’t need to be any different than exactly what they are.

You could try loving your neighbor who plays loud music and leaves his RV parked so that you can hardly get in your driveway. Maybe the music is his only stress reducer after caring for elderly people all day; maybe the RV is the only place his son has to live; maybe he’s so busy trying to hold his life together that he forgot to consider what would be most convenient for you.

You could work on loving your daughter’s crappy fourth-grade teacher who doesn’t appreciate your child’s unique gifts and has failed to teach her the structure of a paragraph. Chances are good that there are too many kids in the classroom to give each their due and the teacher is exhausted simply from trying to maintain some semblance of civilization until the bell rings.

You could try to love the person ahead of you in the line at the grocery store who has 27 items in the express lane, or the punk who cut you off on the freeway, or the customer service representative from the cable company who does not appear to have the slightest idea what “service” might mean. Just for today, since it’s a holiday.

You might even go all out, and work on loving your ex, or the person they left you for. Not necessarily forgiving, and certainly not forgetting, but just a little warmth, a little bit of an open heart for someone who, like everyone else in the world, is trying to find happiness in the best way they know how. Which isn’t necessarily a good way, but there you have it.

Just for this one day you could practice love not so much as a feeling but as a choice, a discipline, a practice. You could start with the conviction that everyone certainly needs love, and the possibility that everyone deserves it. Not because they have earned it, not because they are loveable, but because each of us is capable of being an instrument of grace, which is another name for the love that we don’t have to earn or deserve.

Happy Valentine’s Day. And good luck.

 

–by Lynn Ungar.

See this and more of Lynn’s excellent writing at the Unitarian Universalist Collective’s blog, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/uucollective/author/lynnungar/ . This essay was originally posted there 2/14/2014.

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Molecular Dancing with Water April 4, 2010

 

SAC Medusa logo (art by Tina Fields)

My Animistic Architecture post showed you the venue for the conference I recently attended, the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, aka SAC. This is a group I’ve been part of for the last 15 years or so (omg!) This one will give you a taste of what it’s like to be there.

SAC conferences are much more fun than ordinary academic conferences. It’s an interdisciplinary group interested in exploring issues of consciousness – in other words, a collection of really interesting people looking at weird topics in a rigorous way, a task requiring both imagination and bravery. There is also often a lot of laughter.

Besides papers, SAC always includes hands-on experientials so we can play with each other’s ideas. Among those I attended was biophysicist Beverly Rubik’s session on changing the molecular structure of water with our intentions and emotions.

Beverly Rubik. (Photo: QuantumTantra@blogspot)

It was fascinating. Rubik began by putting an eyedropper full of tap water into her GDV (Gas Discharge Visualization) machine that can digitally illustrate water molecules.  (We all wanted one afterwards, of course. You too? Start saving: they cost $10,500.) She then digitized the image and projected it on a screen, showing us the various aspects you can examine. These include shape, area or size, brightness, density, uniformity, and dimension. The images were simpler than Masaru Emoto’s, being more of a computer model or kirlian photography than a snowflake-like photo, but striking nevertheless. (I wish I had a picture to show you, but I don’t.) “Water carries information via its microstructure,” Beverly informed us. “Tears of joy are different from tears of grief.

Beverly also showed us images of other types of fluids, including blood. This was an eye-opener. Since our bodies are mostly water, and the blood most of all, it can also be looked at in this way – as another form of water. She said we are much better off drinking fresh water and eating living foods, no surprise here – but one reason is that water tends to cluster together, and therefore it gets big when stagnant (like when it’s been bottled); so big at times that it can’t enter our cells. And if we’re dehydrated, we’re compromised in many ways, including loss of the ability to regulate subtle energy.

It turns out that old Weston A. Price was totally right with his take on how a non-indigenous diet alters the physical structure of our bodies. The molecular structure of the blood of a person who ate according to those standards was beautiful and clean and strong, even though he was in his 80s. The blood of a much younger woman who drank Coke at every meal for the past 30 years (I am not making this up!) was laden with anomalies, like little microbes swimming around in there and the cells clustering together for dear life, forming snakes. I was reminded of those old maps showing dangerous territory on the edge of the known: Here there be dragons. Apparently, the blood of teenagers who visit fast food joints a lot exhibits the twisted degeneration usually seen only in a much older person. Yeesh. I went out the next day and bought a lot of fresh vegetables.

Fujiwara Dam water, before prayer. (Photo by Masaru Emoto)

Fujiwara Dam water, before prayer. (Photo: Masaru Emoto)

Then came the fun. As a group, we brainstormed ideas of how we might attempt to alter this information, and then conducted three experiments. First, we put love into it, doing so by gathering in a circle round the water, holding our hands out to it, and chanting “aum.”  (I know: how California can you get, eh? <g>) Many of us reported feeling tingly fingers and “seeing” tendrils of light move from the water to each person and back again.

The second round, we reminded the water of its original perfect nature, and expressed gratitude to it. This was my idea. I felt very sorry for the water at this moment, a bit ashamed about the dissing way we’d been speaking about it right there in front of it. I mean yes, it is city tap water and does indeed have pollutants in it, but really!  Would you like all of your flaws to be magnified like that by a group? If it were me, I’d start to shrink away, forgetting that I had any good qualities at all. I wanted this water to glow, knowing it was appreciated. So I suggested that we remind it of its original pure state; how beautiful it is, and how grateful we are to partake of its essence and be given life by it. This time, we held hands in a ring and one by one, following the suggestion from my linguist friend Matthew Bronson, we spoke aloud our gratitude. I went first, and sort of went into a bardic trance, invoking its Beauty in what someone later called “a breathtaking prayer from the heart.” It did feel good. There’s something right about opening one’s throat to spontaneously sing the praises of that which gives us life! Other spoke similarly in turn. The room grew hushed and the atmosphere in the room felt rarefied, uplifted. And afterward, I knew that water was holy.

Fujiwara Dam water after prayer. (Photo: Masaru Emoto)

The third round, we did what Beverly had been setting us up for all along: to try and turn this water into wine. The blasphemy angle alone tickled the heck out of me. She showed us graphic representations of the molecular structure of Chardonnay, and we tried to replicate it in this water using our minds.  The group asked if I would start with another imaginal invocation. So I verbally led them through the path the water takes to become wine: its arising to the surface through a spring high in the Sierra Nevada mountains and also simultaneously falling as rain, then the way it burbled down through the groundwater and traveled aboveground down through the various river tributaries, eventually making its way to the Eel River, down the Russian River, and into the fertile soil of Sonoma County, where young grapevines eagerly sucked it up, growing tendrils and leaves and fragile blossoms that are visited by eager bees and insects and eventually ripen into ever-growing, ever sweetening fruit, warmed by the sun and watched over by the moon, cycle upon cycle, until each grape is perfectly juicy plump and tart and is picked and crushed by loving hands, then laid to bed cradled by oak, until ahhh! finally tasted, here, by us. Well, you get the idea. Eeny meeny chili-beanie, presto change-o zap! Heeeere’s wine.

We sat back down as Beverly digitized the images and then showed us the corresponding data for each of our experiments. We had indeed changed the molecular structure of every sample of water we had “touched.” The wine was about halfway there: not as big or bright as Chardonnay, but much more than the original tap water.

Since thoughts and emotions are actually changing the molecular structure here, and this is precisely what was being tested, Beverly was concerned that during the experiment nobody was present who came with intent to prove their extreme skepticism. Despite extreme rigor of execution and documentation, this type of experiment is routinely shut down in university settings by people in positions of power with such a mindset, effectively trading fascinating inquiry for the maintenance of “turfdom and serfdom.” I couldn’t help thinking of Emoto’s images paired with Rubik’s observations about the effects of water on our health. It would be fun to show such people these images with the caveat, “This is what your snotty attitude is doing to your cells!”

Then she suggested we conduct an addendum to the experiment which had never been done before: to see if we could taste the difference between the waters. Physically, remember, it was all the same stuff: tap water from the sink in that building. There was only enough charged water in the test tubes for two tasters. Matthew and I volunteered. (I did it mostly because I really wanted that second water in my body!) We turned our backs as Beverly and her partner Harry Jabs rigged up tasting cups of each of the three and then administered them to us in random order. Matthew and I might get the same kind at the same time or we might not. All we knew is that we would each receive one sample of each experiment, three in total, with no duplication.

My strategy was to ask the water to reveal itself to me, then open up as much as possible to it in my subtle bodies – like when attempting to see/feel in diagnosis for shamanic healing – before tasting it. Each water did seem to have its own unique quality. For example, one had a tart-and-sweet taste to me, and was sort of light too, not unlike sauvignon blanc. So I guessed this was the wine. Matthew and I both reported “sweetness” in that round of samples. These turned out to be the wine for me, and for him, the sweet taste was love. Awww!

We also received “plain” tap water to cleanse our palates in between tastings. We found this delightfully amusing. But you know what? We experienced something remarkable here. The first tap water seemed quite neutral, as one would expect, but the ones in between the charged waters actually tasted bad to us. Wild, eh? I thought that phenomenon could be my mind playing tricks, so drank the third sample with that in mind. And indeed, it did not taste bad to me at first – but then it developed an aftertaste!

In the end, Matthew got one right and I got all three. Statistically, this is unlikely but not hugely significant. The wildest, most interesting thing of all was that we actually could taste differences in these waters.

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Rubik’s experiment speaks volumes about how the quality of our attention matters.

We all know this and experience it every day, yet we forget. We fall into the tyranny of multitasking instead of offering our full attention to whatever presents itself. Are we listening to one another deeply, or with half our minds somewhere else – perhaps even planning what we’re going to say in return instead of hearing the original idea?

Another aspect: Objects created with full loving attention carry that special energy with it forever. Compare, for example, a handmade journal vs. one that was mass-produced by sweatshop labor and machines. Even if the former’s materials are not the finest, the personal energy and love put into its creation infuses it, conferring a subtle quality that makes it far more valuable.

When we touch a lover or small child or someone in pain, the way in which we do it; the consciousness behind the act, seriously impacts the way the touchee will experience it. A touch with deliberately concentrated love behind it can be instantly healing, soothing, invigorating; like a drink of cool water or a warm fire in winter.

Such attention can mean survival, too – for example, noticing the colors and scents of our food. Get hold of a bad fish and don’t notice that until it’s half eaten? Too late! Pay more attention next life.

Cultivating the ability to attend can also lead to terrific fun, because it means we notice things that nearly nobody else does: Gargoyles gazing down from the second floor corners; the different iridescent colors on street pigeons, now suddenly recognized as beautiful; the funny way your friend says “wool.” The world is so rich with weird and interesting things to enjoy, and beauty to be found in the most unexpected places. Auntie Mame had it right: “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

Of course, when playing with perspective and really looking for a different angle on things, one sometimes gets more than one bargains for…

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The other side of Mt. Rushmore 

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Happy looking!

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