We are so grateful for each of you! For the love and support you give to us and to one another. For sharing your deepest longings, and opening to the magic of possibilities. For inviting Life to flow freely in you. For giving the gift of being completely yourself.
To us, Community is a feeling.
It’s the feeling of belonging.
Thank you so much for being a part of the Kai Chi Do Community. May the Spirit fill you throughout the coming year.
It’s a good way to start. Something I am grateful for is….
The oneness in our family. May all be so blessed.
How Charles sings off key. May everyone know his gentle heart.
The warmth in our home and the abundance on our table. May all be so blessed.
Shanti’s insights about people, life, souls, the universe, and Korean dramas.
The feeling of connection to all things.
The fireplace in our living room. The hot tub on our porch. Mountains. Pinecones. The fragrance of the desert. Tangerines. Amethyst geodes. Inspirations in the shower. Finding my balance when I wobble. The moments when we sense heaven on Earth. The moments when I disappear when I’m listening to someone. The intimacy that happens when you ask and someone tells what their life is really like right now for them, when they say how they really feel, and you understand – just because you haven’t judged them, just because you are there in that moment, accepting, respecting, honoring, appreciating.
Things that comfort me…Charles’ voice. Latex pillows. The kindness of friends. Paid vacation. The music of Nell. The generosity of Nemo. The Gentle Barn. My reliable heart. Hot cacao with agave. Puppies. Tina’s laugh. Marty’s love cartoons. Transformation. The smell of baked apples with cinnamon. Electric blankets. Messages from the Divine, especially when they arrive on billboards and bumper stickers. You, who lift us up with love.
A while back Charles and I were going through a tough financial time – the kind of time where you sweat the mortgage and dread the credit card statement. I can still remember the feeling of constant anxiety.
And right in the midst of that, I woke one morning with a strange smile and a single thought:
“I have everything I want.”
You have to understand: Gratitude doesn’t come easily to me. Smiling doesn’t come easily to me. Focus, yes. Smiling, no. Charles is the peaceful one. Unperturbable. I’m the passionate one. Fiery and impatient.
This was not a time when I had everything I want. This was a time when gratitude was so far out of reach that making a list of “things that don’t suck” was a stretch. I was frustrated and angry and scared.
And yet here it was. This pure and ridiculous thought. This expansive contentment.
I’d been working the night before with a woman who was in chronic pain. She’d been through a series of spinal surgeries, one after the other. Putting metal hardware into her neck, hardware failing, neck collapsing, pulling hardware out. And here she was, in a metal halo – drilled into her skull resembling some kind of medieval torture – here she was telling me how grateful she was to me. And to God and to Life and to her husband and to her doctors and to…it was endless. Her gratitude was endless. And it wasn’t just words. It wasn’t a script, and she wasn’t reaching for anything. It was just glowing from her. Filling me.
I know what it’s like to come through a crisis and be so glad that the worst of the pain is behind you, and you survived it, that you praise all that’s holy. But what does it mean when you’re still in the middle of it, still struggling, still in pain, and feel so blessed? It’s winter but you feel so warm. Where does that kind of gratitude come from?
We like to play spiritual games on New Year’s Eve. We stay home, have a quiet intimate evening with our family or a few friends, drink a little Martinelli’s sparkling apple cider at midnight (truly living on the edge!), and we play spiritual games.
Each year we do an activity with the clear goal of raising our awareness and uplifting our consciousness and having fun all at the same time. The games always help us to look over the previous year – give ourselves acknowledgment for achievements and identify what we’d like to do better – and develop clear intentions for the upcoming year.
So we thought we’d share some of these consciousness games with you, and maybe you’ll give one or two a try and get on the wavelength with us. If you do – we hope you’ll leave a comment and tell us how it worked out for you!
Bright Spots: Charles encourages people to identify “Bright Spots” every day. New Years Eve is like the Bright Spots of all the Bright Spots – your personal Top Ten for the year. Bright Spots are points of awareness. They’re not always happy spots but they’re moments when you realized something very important to you. They’re little epiphanies and insights that help you steer in the direction of what you want including who you want to be. It’s especially fun and useful to keep a journal of these from year to year.
Gratitudes: List all the things you are grateful for in the past year. This game may be familiar but it is still very powerful and profoundly uplifting. Gratitude feels good and the more time you dwell on the things you feel grateful about, the better you feel.
Reviewing your Goals: Make 3 lists: 1. Things I Accomplished in 2010, 2. Things I Hoped to Accomplish This Year but Didn’t, 3. Things I Intend to Accomplish in the Coming Year. Looking back and reviewing the year allows you to give yourself credit where credit is due, to use your disappointments or frustrations constructively, to see your progress, and to declare your direction for the coming year. It helps you to identify goals and is an invitation to the Universe to assist you in meeting them.
Wheel of Fortune: This is a visioning tool developed by Catherine Ponder, and written in her book The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity. Take a large piece of oaktag type paper (approx. 24″ by 36″) and make a small circle (maybe 4 or 5 inches in diameter) in the middle of the page. Then divide the page into 4 quadrants with the circle in the middle. The inner circle represents Source or Core Energy. Label the four quadrants: 1. Spirituality and Personal Growth, 2. Relationships and Family, 3. Fun and Recreation, and 4. Business and Finance. Then build the Wheel of Fortune. This is a visioning tool. Use pictures and words to represent your vision, what you want, for each of the quadrants, and use a picture or word in the center that represents Source to you. We’ve had amazing results with this tool. We make it a collage of pictures from magazines and personal photos, and sometimes we write affirmations or just a single word in each quadrant. Be as specific as you can. We hang the Wheel somewhere we can see it throughout the year. One year, when we first moved to Florida, we cut out a picture of a couch from a magazine, and added it to our wheel in the fun and recreation quadrant. When we actually bought a couch and brought it home, we discovered that our couch had the EXACT same palm frond print that was in our wheel picture! Exactly! We also discovered that it’s very important to believe what you want is possible. In other words, when you look at your wheel throughout the year, you want it to trigger your confidence and desire (not your self-doubt and resistance). It’s your thought and emotion that makes the magic of the wheel.
Vision Board: A vision board is very similar to the Wheel of Fortune, but the collage has no center and no quadrants. It’s a “gestalt” of your vision for yourself, a unified sum. The vision board was made popular in a book called The Vision Board – Secrets to an Extraordinary Life by Joyce Schwartz who talks about how the Vision Board activates The Law of Attraction to fulfill your desires. You can see examples of Vision Boards by clicking the icons at the bottom of the I have a vision.org website.
Mask Making: We did this one year and totally missed midnight. We were all so captivated by the activity that we completely lost track of time. By the time we looked up and took a breather, we realized it was 2am and we were all energized! By the way, this is a great one to do with kids, but adults become very kid-like when they’re making a mask. It’s great to do with a buddy, who will apply the materials to your face, but it can be done alone using a mirror. Here’s what you’ll need: Quick drying plaster gauze (you’ll need one or two rolls per mask), water based KY jelly, scissors, a dish of warm water, feathers, beads, any other stuff you might want to attach to your mask face (like yarn, shells, small coins, glitter, sand, small mirrors, sequins, plastic “gems”). You’ll also need glue, paints (water-based, we use Crayola “Washable Paint” or acrylic or tempera paint), paint brushes, a cup of water to rinse your brushes, a paper plate to use as a paint palette, and newspaper or plastic tablecloth (to protect your workspace). We buy most of these products at Michaels but most craft supply stores carry them. It’s helpful, if you’re able, to have a microwave on hand for making the quick drying gauze just a little bit quicker, for the impatient among us. Here’s how you make your mask: Cut the plaster gauze into small strips, vary the sizes and shapes – such as 1 inch by 2 inches, 2 inches by 4 inches. You’ll want to apply the smaller strips in small contours – like around your nose and chin – and bigger strips on areas with larger contours – like your forehead and cheeks. Your buddy applies a nice layer of KY jelly to your face including your lips, your eyebrows (not on your eyelids – your mask will have holes for the eyes), and apply a smidge of KY to protect your hairline from sticking to the gauze. Then wet one strip of gauze at a time, run it between two fingers to squeeze excess water out of it, and apply the strip to your face. Leave “holes” for your eyes and your nostrils (so you can breathe!), but do apply gauze to the rest of your face (keep your lips closed) and gently shape the gauze to the contours – your lips, the crease beside your nose, your cheeks, your forehead, your chin. Once you have a few layers of gauze on all of your face (except the eye holes), sit quietly for 10 or 15 minutes while the gauze dries. You want it to be firm enough that it will hold its shape when you take it off your face. Once it is firm, gently shimmy it off your face. If it’s kinda firm but still needs to harden, put it in the microwave for a few seconds – Don’t overcook! Then begin to paint and decorate your face mask. We use the mask to express the part of ourselves that we feel in the present moment or a part of ourselves that we hope to express in the new year.
Fire Meditation: We love the fireplace in our home, but a candle is just as wonderful for meditation. The fire is about purification, releasing and liberating yourself from any struggles or conflicts of the past. Connect with your breathing, connect each breath while you concentrate on the flame with one-pointed focus. Begin to relax into the flame. Allow the flame to become a part of your energy as your relax. And use your breath to continue to relax fully and completely into the energy of the flame. Relax your mind. Don’t try to make it “about” anything. Let go of your notions of what you should get out of the meditation and just allow yourself to experience quieting your mind and being with the flame. Come into your center by holding your hands in prayer before you put out the flame. And relax into the energy that’s been released. Allow yourself to integrate the moment.
Breathwork: We love conscious connected breathing. Take circular breaths, relaxing into each breath, pulling on the inhale, relaxing on the exhale, and connected each exhale to the next inhale. Pulling in Life Energy with each inhale and releasing resistance with each exhale. Gently. Gently. This is great to do with a buddy. You breathe with their support. Then it’s their turn to breathe with your support. The role of the support person is to create a safe space, to be loving and accepting and attentive to each breath. You do this breathing exercise for about 20-30 minutes, until you feel a sense of completion. It’s surprising, but you may have feelings come to the surface. Just watch them and let them pass, don’t get too attached to them or try to figure them out. Just go with the flow of your breath.
Dakini Oracle: The Dakini Oracle is a deck of cards with illustrations on them and a short phrase. They are similar to Tarot cards, but we like the Dakini because the pictures are so evocative and easy to interpret (and we find them less structured than Tarot). Shuffle the deck while you hold a question in your mind, fan the deck and choose 6 cards. Lay the cards face down from left to right. The first two cards represent the past, the middle two cards represent the present, and the two cards on the right represent the future. Now, we don’t consider this fortune telling. It’s not the cards or some outside being telling you about your future. We think it is you talking to a deep inner part of yourself. And we believe that it helps clarify your own understanding of where you have been and where you are heading. And if you don’t like the cards you got, choose another card and lay it on top of the first pick — You can change your future and you can change your perception of the past or present. It’s your choice. And using the Dakini helps you make your declarations about how you want your life to be.
New Years Affirmation Tattoo: Develop an affirmation that loves you. This isn’t a goal affirmation. This isn’t something you want or hope to achieve or fix. Write an affirmation of loving words that you want to tell yourself. If you saw the best in you, what would you say? Begin with the words, “I am…” or pick a single word that you know represents your best intentions and make that your affirmation. Write your affirmation in washable paint or washable marker (washable!) on your body. Pick the spot – do you want it on your forehead? Across your chest? Over your heart? If it’s in a spot where you’ll need to read it in a mirror, then look in the mirror and write it on yourself backwards!
And if you hit the sack early tonight, give these games a try on New Years Day!
And – just a note – You may not have received yesterday’s post in your email because it was a BIG file! I interviewed Phyllis Singer about “The Depths” movements that we use to begin each Kai Chi Do, and it was AMAZING! If you haven’t seen and heard it yet (it’s got audio!), check it out here.
The rare moment is not the moment
when there is something worth looking at,
but the moment when we are capable of seeing.
– Joseph Wood Krutch
Flowers are coming to us. I was talking a few weeks ago about how much I enjoy having fresh flowers in the house. So Charles bought me flowers. And we all ooohhed and aaahhed over how pretty they were. And I pampered the arrangements. And we placed them around the house, just to appreciate their beauty. They always bring a smile.
We didn’t have any particular attachment to flowers. We were just enjoying them. We didn’t mention it to anyone. We weren’t angling to get flowers. We didn’t send out a flower campaign or anything. We were just appreciating them.
And the more we enjoyed them, the more flowers kept showing up. Someone gave us a Smith and Hawken Amaryllis Bulb Kit. Then someone gave us a magnificent blooming orchid plant with dozens of little white slipper flowers. And Biana and Taz gave us two beautiful bouquets when they came to dinner – roses, baby’s breath, lilies, daisies, mums, ferns. So many flowers, I was thinking, we really need to pick up a few more vases! And, just today, a parent of one of Shanti’s friends said, I was going to bring you some flowers!
Our home is truly in bloom.
And we’re loving it. So much beauty and life everywhere we look. And from every one of those flowers we feel the gratitude and appreciation you have given us.
We love the lesson too.
Whatever you put your attention on, increases. If you focus on what you love, you get more to love. It’s not just for flowers – it’s for people too. That’s really what appreciation is – It’s more than a thank you. Appreciation is seeing the beauty in someone.
People just feel better and act better when you see the goodness in them.
Try it with your kids and you’ll see what we mean.
You feel uplifted when you see beauty. They feel uplifted when you see beauty in them. They might even be able to glimpse that beauty in themselves. And you feel more connected to one another.
That’s the yoga of gratitude. That feeling of union.
Energetically, when you’re grateful, your heart is open. Energy flows freely within you and between you because you’re not rejecting anything. Your focus defines your experience. You keep your focus on what you appreciate, and only what you appreciate can come in.
That’s truly something to be grateful for.
Have a blessed Thanks Giving! Use the Comments below to tell us what’s on your gratitude list this year!