While environmental scientists across the world were working hard to finalize the assessment of the 2019 UN Report on the State of the Environment, I was eagerly descending the steps to my basement art therapy office on Main Street, Ann Arbor so I could put the finishing touches on my latest painting. I’ve felt this space to be particularly compatible with psychological work that requires a quieting of the mind chatter in order to be able to access inner wisdom.
By Peggy River Singer
River: Are you ready, Jasper
Jasper: Yes. I've had many lifetimes as other kinds of animals. Hawks, owls, hares, beasts of all kinds. Every life teaches us something. Animals and humans are alike in that sense.
Now, then. I remember a tiger, I think it was my mother parent. That was a very short life, I was very weak at birth, the last to breathe air [the runt of the litter], and it was hard, so very hard, to lift my head. My mother SO BEAUTIFUL SHE WAS, in body and spirit, grieved for me even as I slipped away, darkness came upon me as I felt her great tongue gently, gently blessing me with love and HOPE. My heart fills with the emotions even now, recalling that moment so vividly...
The next life after that was my choice, and I chose to be a lion. A lion of India you understand, I had decided to stay in India after being a tiger cub. It was my hope that I would be able to meet my tiger mother in physical form, but it was not to be. The Gir Lions [living in the Gir Forest] are quite different from what I have heard of African lions. We are more graceful, more lightly built is a good way to say it, seemingly less massive in muscle, very beautiful in our way. In this life I was a male, a young male ready to find my own way in the world as my father lion did not wish me to challenge him, as is the way among lions.
So I set off away from all that was familiar, walking many miles and days. I had a male friend with me, we thought we might start our own lion family together, this is not unknown among lions.
River: Did you have any ideas about which way to go?
Jasper: We had listened to the elders' stories about what lay in each direction, so we had what you call a mental map in our minds of the terrain, dangerous places, and good places to hunt, that sort of thing. We knew it was best to keep away from humans, but had never so much as sniffed one before in our young lives. Plenty of stories gave us plenty of reasons to avoid those ones!
It was one day when we smelled rain that something wonderful happened! We also smelled a girl tiger! My friend immediately took the lead and we found her resting, licking blood from her muzzle. What a beautiful sight she was, so sleek and serene...
River: What happened next?
Jasper: Sorry, I was enjoying the remembering. Well, I cannot say she was glad to see us, we were lions, after all, and she had a kill to protect. And though the time of matings approached, she was not yet feeling that power. I shall say she sneered at us as unworthy creatures and beneath her notice, and she commanded us to move on.
And so we decided together to continue our travels. We had heard of a great forest, a forest within a forest, as you might say, where very special lions dwelled. Naturally we desired to be Very Special Lions ourselves! [joke] It was a very long journey, as much as a moon, before we realized we had found the place.
River: And what was it like?
Jasper: [A long, low moan.] It was death, it was all death. The humans had come before us. The great trees were felled, the stink of humans was everywhere.
That night we grieved with those who had died there in that naked, ruined forest. With the trees and the animals and the plants, we grieved…
[Jasper closes his eyes and starts to sway slightly back and forth, singing the song of those who were lost.]
Oh beauty, oh vibrant life, oh springing joy!
In this place of burdens, let the life return in its own time.
Too much to bear is this sorrow.
Too heavy lies the burden of death.
We sing our grief, we sing our sorrow,
We sing hope for the future, the future forest,
Which is greater than Man's greed.
And we opened our eyes, our amazed eyes, and saw the spirits of all those who had died, singing and laughing in the sunlight and the moonlight, joyful in death as they were in life, dragonflies playing in sunbeams. All were there just as they had been before Men came. And we were told: "Your hearts have been heard by the All Highest. This place will bloom again. Go in peace."
[Jasper opens his eyes, he is very intense.]
Do you see, do you understand? All hearts are one heart, a great heart, too great to be permanently harmed by the Darkness.
We are done.
Peggy River Singer is a heart-centered animal communicator, medium, faerie ally, Reiki practitioner, and lifelong writer. She combines her gift for communications with her psychic abilities to help create harmonious relationships among all who share the Earth. Connect by phone at 734-548-0194; and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She shares her experiences and insights on her blog, angelsfairiesandlife.wordpress.com.
I realized only later that I had great expectations around how wonderful it would all be in a way that wasn’t compatible with real life. I try to help my clients understand the many myths around mindfulness practices, especially the one that suggests that regular practice will lead to steady calm, happiness, or bliss. What mindfulness cultivates is an increased capacity to be present with all states of being rather then favoring the good over the bad and the ugly. One of the biggest takeaways of the retreat for me personally was that the same applies to retreats or vacations.
Along my personal journey to find natural healing for anxiety, I made two exciting discoveries that changed my life and gave me the relief I needed to heal from a lifetime of unease. These two discoveries have become the foundation of my work as a holistic health practitioner, and as I work to help others reclaim a more vibrant level of wellbeing, joy, and health in their lives.
A few years ago I spent a weekend at an Animal Communication class out in the country. While we were taking a break on the back porch Saturday afternoon, I discovered a tick walking up my arm. I'd never met a tick before, but recognized it right away thanks to all the media hoopla about Lyme Disease. "Oh, look," I said. "It's a tick!"
So much is happening on planet Earth! The rising of the Schumann resonance (Earth’s heartbeat), the shifting of magnetic north, the decreasing magnetic grid, and increasing solar radiation—all are having enormous impact on our world. Pluto and Saturn coming together in Capricorn in January 2020 will create far-reaching changes in the power structures on Earth. So let’s talk about the tool of astrology in navigating our personal lives.
This constellation reminds us that humans and dolphins have shared a long relationship. One of the best-known Greek versions of the story of this constellation is that it represents a dolphin who saved the life of Arion, the most famous singer/musician of his time.
It is impossible not to grow in awareness and fondness of nature in general, and birds and plants specifically, while living in a town like Ann Arbor. I’ve been learning things organically, without a need to study deeply, or have a specific interest in plant life (which I admit I don’t). We lucked out with a house that has a huge backyard with many trees, a small pond that hosts a snapping turtle I’ve seen only once in the eight years that we’ve been here. Ignorance got me close enough to get this photo of her.
What’s for food? Where to next? Believe it or not, these two questions roll through my mind each and every day as I search my mind for ideas for my next delicious meal, or my next far-off adventure. Appetites for both, insatiable. Food and travel, the fabric of my being. And, as it turns out, the subject of my little passion project.
by Barbara Newell
When Laura Cowan interviewed me for her cover article in the current Crazy Wisdom Journal, we touched on the two main avenues of practice for cultivating mindfulness in everyday life. Ms. Cowan wrote candidly about the parent’s classic dilemma: wanting to enjoy the proven benefits of mindfulness in relating with herself, with her loved ones, and all the ups and downs we all encounter in life, yet feeling stretched too thin to add another item to the to-do list. The avenue of finding small ways to be more present right in the midst of what’s already happening throughout the day came naturally to the forefront of our interview.
The other avenue is the one commonly referred to as “formal practice.” It doesn’t have to mean sitting in the lotus position at an altar with incense burning (as lovely as any or all of these things can be). It simply means setting aside some minutes in which we don’t do anything else except reconnect, again and again, with our “home base” of mindful presence.
For many people, this home base is following our breathing; others find a different anchor works better for them. In it we give ourselves full permission to let go of our agendas. Every time we notice our mind has wandered off (as human minds are wont to do!), over and over again, we bring the mind back to this home base of spacious, kind presence. It seems so simple – which it is – and yet countless people have found it really makes a difference.
One well-known, busy mom I know made herself a deal one day many years ago now. She vowed that henceforth she would meditate every day – and - she gave herself what she calls the “back door” that it didn’t matter for how long. There were times, particularly when her son was quite young, when it was just taking a few conscious breaths and saying the briefest prayer at night, on the edge of her bed, before keeling over; yet her promise to herself made a real difference.
These two approaches to cultivating mindfulness very much support each other. When we take a few dedicated moments to really pause and reconnect with wakeful, caring presence to our own heart, it’s much easier throughout the day and week to take the micro-pause in a challenging moment - even a single, mindful breath - that gives us just enough room to check in with ourselves and respond to the situation instead of habitually reacting to it in a way we may regret later.
Similarly, when we do take short windows of opportunity to resource ourselves throughout an active day - how about just enjoying a few refreshing, conscious breaths when we’re at a stoplight, instead of looking down at our phone for the hundredth time? - there will be less accumulated restlessness when we do take those dedicated minutes to come back to the miracle of our living, breathing body, here in the present moment.
Recently I recalled a brief exchange that took place nearly 25 years ago, when I was quite new to meditation. I was just meeting a woman living with metastatic, stage 4 breast cancer. Within a couple minutes we somehow discovered that both of us were meditators. Suddenly her dark-brown eyes bored intently into mine, with a fierce gaze from which life’s trivialities clearly had been burned away. She got straight to the point: “When the mind is in the present moment... there is no fear.”
My mind came to a complete stop. It was beyond question this woman knew what she was talking about. I knew that I needed this practice.
I am grateful to her.
You can reach Barbara Newell at Grove Emotional Health Collaborative’s office on Main Street at www.groveemotionalhealth.com or by contacting her at email@example.com and (734) 224-3822 x113.
To learn more about Barbara, read Crazy Wisdom Kids in the Community—Mindfulness with Barbara Newell, Joy Aleccia, and Anique Pegeron from issue #73.
Very often when the subject of meditation comes up, people cock their heads, sigh, and wince with an air of self-judgment. They might say something along the lines of, “I know I NEED to start meditating,” or “I’m not good at meditating.” While there have been many studies on the benefits of meditation, many of us still find it challenging to develop a daily practice. We know it’s good for us and can make us more relaxed, kinder, and happier. So what gives?
I make work that is political because I cannot help it. I tend to make work that reflects my life experience, and, as the saying goes, the personal is political. This phrase, which was popularized during the feminist movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, means that there are connections between my own personal experience and the larger social and political structures which tend to dominate, exploit, and oppress minorities in our politics, society, and culture.
I have been paying close attention to our backyard for many years now, and know which tree will be the first to turn green (the little willow by the pond), which wildflowers will bloom first, how much progress the moss has made in its fight for territory over the grass. Because I am unable to convince others let alone my husband that our attachment to lawns is not the best idea, we have plenty of it in our backyard, but due to our lack of chemical warfare against Mama Nature’s preferences, moss and some clover types are beginning to make their claim
Birds and other animals are fully "plugged in" to the energetic world around us, in all its unseen complexity; and this permits instant communication among them. It also helps them pick up on our energies, especially our emotional energies. They can easily perceive when they're being watched by humans, especially when that attention is magnified by the unblinking "eyes" of binocular or camera lenses.
For this interview, I asked to be connected to a spokesperson for the Leprechaun folk, someone who would be allowed, and willing, to share information about his or her people.
My journey with Waldorf education began 14 years ago, when my oldest was starting kindergarten. One of the first things that attracted me to Rudolf Steiner School was the opportunity for my children to have balance in their school day. A variety of artistic activities are interwoven with rigorous academic endeavors to achieve this harmony. Bursting with joy and vitality, my children would not sit all day getting filled with information, staring at worksheets, textbooks, and various screens. There would always be a thoughtful rhythm to their day. From early childhood through high school, Waldorf students experience many kinds of fine and practical arts: drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, folk dancing, handwork, woodwork (you should see the container of hand-carved wooden spoons in my kitchen!), instrumental music, and the list goes on…
Years ago, I wrote an article about the God of Love: "Cupid is much more than a charming decoration on a box of chocolates: he is as vibrantly alive today as he has been for thousands of years. His sacred calling is to touch the hearts of mortals to help keep humanity full of love, and IN LOVE with life itself."
That's all still true, but today I'm writing an article WITH Cupid, and with a fresh approach! Hello, Cupid, thank you for agreeing to tell us about the real person behind the myths.
I’ve quite frankly found it pretty challenging to routinely bend to the gifts of quiet time. Not being much for coffee, cigarettes, or wine, it seemed I even missed the American rituals that build in a pause.
I found a pause recently, though, in a gift from a wise friend. A modern, clear, silicon hot water bottle. So handsome in its simplicity, just fill with boiling water. Then retire, cradling the hot little pillow. And let the heat creep across, from silicon to bones. Nothing one can do to rush a hot water bottle. No dial to crank up. But there is something about a capable hot water bottle that encourages sighs of release. An unwinding. A melding.
I wanted to share this to hopefully bring some lightness to our struggles with what is foreign to us, hard to pronounce, or even hard to understand. We can get too caught up in getting things right, worrying we will offend, or thinking we are not respectful if we don’t do the extra effort it takes to get it right. Consider that what come easy and natural to you, even though it veers from the original, might actually add to someone’s memory space, and enrich their lives
Like me, many of you have experienced what it's like to be different. Maybe you're psychic, or an Indigo; one of the many "clairs" such as clairtactile or clairsentient, a telepath, an empath; or you have what the Irish call Second Sight. Maybe you never talk about your special abilities, or you hide what you can do, because you're afraid of what people will think if they find out you're "not normal." But of course, these abilities are perfectly normal for humans; they've just been distrusted and demonized for a very long time.