Corona-thon Day 40

Self Care – Soul Care

It was the first day of March when I sensed the shift coming. There was already no hand sanitizer to be found at any drug stores, and I was told they would be out at least until May, maybe longer. I went to Target and bought the last package of 15 rolls of toilet paper and the last two packages of Kleenex on the shelves. At the Target check out I was behind a couple with two young boys who were filling plastic crates with $1,000 worth of food and booze. They nervously apologized for taking so much time. I laughed and said that I appreciated their choices in high-end alcohol.

Two weeks later it was apparent a shutdown was coming. Out to dinner with a friend that Friday night, March 13, the restaurant had fewer than a dozen patrons when it would normally have been packed.  March 16, California issued the first, ineptly named, shelter-in-place order.

Living alone with two cats and already working from home, (a lifestyle I’ve lived for 25 years) I figured that the shutdown wouldn’t really impact me much. I’m basically an introvert, comfortable with myself and with being alone. And…it didn’t seem to have an impact.

Except that, during the first 30 days or so, I shopped enough to accumulate more food and booze than I’ve had in my home in the last 10 years. Five o-clock happy hour with a couple glasses of bourbon became routine. I ate comfort food–– mom’s recipe for mac & cheese, pizza, ice cream, turkey with mashed potatoes, watched a lot of TV, went to bed early and had weird, horribly violent nightmares. I zoomed more for work, called more friends and family, and spent countless hours on Facebook and Instagram first thing each morning and last thing each evening, reading endless articles about the breakdown of all our systems, and the climbing death toll.

I watched my tiny retirement fund all but disappear as the market took a dive, pulling it at the worst possible time.

I checked in with hospital chaplain friends, worried for their welfare and all of their front line workers, while at the same time feeling grateful that I no longer worked in a hospital setting. There were ego moments when I felt guilty for my feelings of relief and distance from that work, and at the same time imagined others judging me for not doing enough. All of this just as I was leaving one job and taking a leap of faith into a management role with a new young organization. I was carrying both grief and some relief around all these changes, personal, communal and global. No, the lockdown didn’t impact me… much.

Being mindful not to judge myself harshly, I took note of all of the ways I was being affected by the onslaught of mixed messages and mixed feelings. I needed to find a rhythm of self-care, so I started walking around my neighborhood, taking iPhone pics of flowers while giving passing neighbors a wide berth and a smile through my mask. I discovered streets I’d never been on, and flowers who’s names I didn’t know. I posted on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #beautyheals. Daily walks and drinking in the abundant beauty of springtime blossoms is healing. But the thing I miss most is driving out to the ocean, sitting on the beach and listening to the wisdom of the pounding surf. That soothes my soul…

As the days continue to unfold one into the other with little differentiation, I am finding my grounding in my spiritual direction/soul care practice, holding space for others, listening deeply to their stories and their fears. I also find strength in listening to and learning from mentors and people I admire as they share that they too are challenged in coping with all that we’re experiencing. During these unprecedented and scary times, the message I hear repeatedly is to tend kindly and gently to ourselves as well as others. We are all in this together.

Yes, in the first 30 days I over-stocked my shelves, over-ate comfort food, over-drank good bourbon, took an over-abundance of flower photos, over-connected on zoom, and generally over-indulged. I admit to feeling the vulnerability of my 63-year-old self, frightened of contracting this virus. Fed by constant news stories and knowing what a stay in the hospital can bring, I started filling an advanced healthcare directive form.

Sometime around day 30 I noticed another shift in energy. The atmosphere felt less dense and I sensed a thinning of the veil between dimensions, allowing for messages to come through from the Divine, guides and our higher consciousness. My defenses were down, my heart was breaking open into the unknown, the uncertainty yet again. Feeling more open, spacious and receptive, I also felt the collective grief of the ever tightening circle of death, coming nearer to people I know and love.

Dreaming with the Divine

One recent day I found myself leading a grounding guided meditation with a new client, when something extraordinary occurred which became, for both of us, something akin to a Shamanic experience. I usually drop into somewhat of a trance when doing a guided meditation, or prayer. This time felt exceptional.

As I guided bringing regenerative energy up from Mother Earth into our bodies, up through the root, sacral and solar plexus chakras to our hearts–– I experienced a thrumming sound, an energy in my right ear, like blood pumping through veins. And then as I guided us to bring cosmic wisdom down from above into our crown, third eye and throat chakras to the heart–– I experienced the same thrumming sound and energy in my left ear, again like blood pumping through veins. This vibration was now running through me until the energies met at the heart chakra, and then everything suddenly fell silent. For a moment I felt absolutely full of Divine presence, a pulsing translucence entered me, and I wondered what, if anything, my client felt.

After completing the meditation, my client shared her experience saying, “ I felt as if I was in warm water, like in a womb. Your voice was in the distance… and then I heard, “Allah – we are one.”

That night I had a profoundly prophetic dream.  I was in the presence of my guide who, when he comes to me in dreamtime, is always slightly behind my right shoulder, with his hand on my back at heart level, softly instructing me in my right ear.

He took me into a large floating room surrounded by the cosmos, that appeared to be a crystalline like library-laboratory-holodeck. Everything was awash in pale blueish white light. The walls of shelves were full of what he explained to me were, “blocks of time.” Was I inside the Akashic records?  All the blocks on all the shelves glowed various shades of luminescent blue light. My guide told me that I could pull out any block of time and insert it into one of my past experiences to change characters and outcomes.

All the blocks were three inches thick, six inches deep by nine inches tall and appeared translucent. When I touched a block of time, it lit up white. It felt weighty in my hand, alive, full of wisdom and pulsed lightly. I carried it over to the shelves that held my past stories. When I inserted the block into a story it flashed and I saw a new scenario play out, much like what I felt and saw in my life review during my near-death experience.  People, places, sounds, smells all in hyper 360 degree Imax view.

I did this several times focusing on my travels through the years to Scotland, Italy, Spain, and France. With each new block of time inserted into old stories I experienced meeting different people and having more joyful outcomes, full of laughter, abundance and love.

My guide said, “The dimension of time as you incarnate beings know it, is not what you think it is. Time exists in many dimensions simultaneously. Time is relative, permeable, rearrangeable, and can be altered. It all depends on your minds, your hearts and your will.”

It feels to me that the message of this dream pertains directly to our present life situation. It’s as if we are in a movie that has several scripts written by pure potentiality, and it’s up to us to choose the script we play out. We have the power to change the outcomes of this Corona-thon, if we have the minds, hearts and the will to not repeat past mistakes or return to the old normal.

How has this dream impacted me?  My energy has shifted. In this now moment, I am no longer hungering for food, drink or anything outside of myself.  I shifted my walks from warm windy afternoons around my neighborhood filled with photographing flower friends––to cool, still early morning meanderings where I discover small hand painted rocks with blessings, heart drawings and tiny creature relatives.  Morning walks are more peaceful and supportive for me and give me more energy throughout my day.  I continue to practice open awareness and Zen seeing, to keep feeling awe and wonder in spite of these turbulent times.

Deeply humbled by my good fortune, and very aware of my privilege, I am also aware of my limitations, strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been reluctant write a post. So why now, why this? Today, this 40th day of our Corona-thon feels a little Biblical as it were. Perhaps there’s another energetic shift coming? Perhaps this little stream of consciousness relates to you and your circumstances during this time. How were your first 30 – 40 days?  What have your dreams been like? What are you doing for self-care, and for care of others? How has your energy shifted? How are your mixed bag of feelings? What are you noticing about your relationships with others, with Nature, with the Divine?  I invite you to private message me.

We are in this together; feeling it, breathing it, living it. If we’re able to follow the golden threads of synchronicities and blessings through this time, and be more forgiving we might discover more peace and give ourselves permission to be who we are, while creating a new normal that’s for the highest good of all.

May all beings be well…

Namasté

(all photos ©Lisa j Winston LjW Divine Sight – click on any to scroll through gallery)

 

Part 3 – From Spirit to Matter

SEEING THE BOUNDLESSNESS of Time and Space

Photography as a Spiritual/Healing Practice Post NDE

During my NDE I took a fantastic ride, leaving my body, literally becoming a spark of light––first traveling along a circuit board, then flung out into the universe and through a life review––all in Imax 3D, 360 degree vision. Time and space know no bounds in an altered state, and words don’t really describe all the sensations. I didn’t know how to process what I’d experienced internally, so it began to appear outwardly through my photographs.

I discovered the holiday light show at a local botanic garden and began experimenting with a slow shutter speed and camera movement. It was thrilling to see the results! Each image was completely different, depending upon whether I swooshed, wiggled, twisted, zoomed, or whirled. It was awesome, I felt like a kid discovering something new and wonderful. It made me happy! It became an annual holiday event, taking friends and family to the botanic gardens light show for what I call, Camera Dancing.™  

My desire for seeing and sensing movement while being stationary and still stayed with me, and I experimented beyond the light show, taking my camera dancing into nature. There’s a feeling of having a foot in two worlds or of walking between the worlds, peeking through the veil into the unseen. Objects are no longer identifiable by the mind. We no longer attach labels–– tree, leaf, rock, water––allowing us the opportunity to connect more deeply with the energy of our seeing, and to ask ourselves, where do I feel this in my body? What emotion does this image evoke in me?

I invite you to slow down, take a deep breath and focus for a minute or two on these photographs. Ask yourself those questions as you look into them.  Practice with your own photos or artwork.

Hawaiian Tapestries ©LjW 2006

“When our eyes are graced with wonder, the world reveals its wonders to us. So much depends on how we look at things. The quality of our looking determines what we come to see.” ––John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

Receiving Photos with Eyes Wide Shut

…and other exercises using our chakras and all of our senses as “Portals of Perception,” tuning into the natural world around us…

Master photographer Dorothea Lange is quoted as saying, The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” The photography I teach helps us to “see” the non-dual relationship between self and other, to “see” our inner and outer worlds, and to express our Divinity, our Buddha Nature, through the lens of a camera as our focal point. The practice of viewing life through the confines of a lens, and our chakras helps us to focus, to tune out and to tune in to what and how we “see.”

Below is an example from a class I taught a while back. Our first exercise, working with our root chakra, was to find a place outdoors, to ground into and to comfortably and safely sit, becoming quiet and still. Closing our eyes, breathing into our belly and, for about 10 minutes, to just become aware of our surroundings. What did we feel, smell, taste, hear, sense… to our right, our left, directly in front and behind us? What about below and above us?  Then, keeping our eyes closed we snapped a photo in each of four directions.

I found my spot that day in the crook of a large Y-shaped cottonwood tree near a stream on the East Boulder Trail, in Colorado. The sun was warm and there was a light breeze. I settled in, calmed my breath, found my center and with my eyes closed, I quieted my mind. As I did this, I  began to notice my surroundings with my other senses. I could hear people and their dogs as they walked by. I felt the shadow of a bird as it flew past.

In that meditative space and time my ability to perceive opened and I “received” four photographs.  My senses and my camera were called to my right, to my left, down toward my feet and up into the tree. When I later looked at the photos, to my right was a very large Great Dane loping along, his owner far ahead of him down the trail. It was the bell on his collar that had called to me. To my left was a bird I heard chirping, as it sat on a wire. The photo of my knee revealed the sun spot I felt warming my legs. And the shot up into the tree, was of the light I felt filtering through the rustling leaves that I heard, along with one arm of the large Y-shaped trunk that I leaned against.

As I looked through files for the memoir I’m writing, I rediscovered photos I had forgotten and many took me right back to a very specific place and time, to a memory, an experience of all my felt-senses, because it wasn’t and isn’t separate, it IS me. I clearly remember feeling safely held, leaning against the strong trunk with its rough bark, in the crook of that cottonwood tree…with the warm rays of sun and the light breeze…

This photograph jumped off the screen and as if it were an old friend and I heard her say, “There’s something more here, do you see it? How would I look in Infrared B&W?”  That’s how the magic happens. The images speak if we listen, offering an amazing perspective we wouldn’t ordinarily see, because we don’t take the time to see or to listenWhat about the nature of this tree, and its insistence to be seen again in a new way reveals or reflects my true nature today… your true nature?  As a famous prophet said to his disciples…“ if only you have eyes to see and ears to listen…”

Master photographers, Minor White and John Daido Loori taught this deeper way of “seeing,” and nature was often their muse. That old cottonwood offered a fresh perspective long after our first encounter. Never underestimate the wisdom of the trees, or any other element of nature. We have much to learn from all the elements time after time. And, beyond photography, in my daily life, I often ask, “what else is there to see,” so the seeing becomes the being. If what I’ve shared here intrigues or inspires you, give it a try.  Feel free to send your photos, along with any sensory and emotional perceptions that arise. I’d love to hear from you. And if you’d like to study with me on-line or in person, please drop me a note at lisajwinston@ljwdivinesight.com

We’ll be practicing this at our Healing Photography Sisters-of-Spirit Retreat in Hawaii June 23-29.

https://ljwdivinesight.com/healing-photography-and-retreats/sisters-of-spirit-hawaii/

Blessings,

Lisa

©2018 LjW Divine Sight

Easter – Passover – Full Blue Moon – April Fools Day

These are powerful and blessed energies that have converged this weekend. Easter, Passover, a Full Blue Moon and even April Fools Day offer us the opportunity for renewal and rebirth; an opportunity to expand our vision and maybe shift our way of seeing. Many people these days are spiritual but not religious, or secular and non-religious. Some have wounds or carry baggage around religion. Some feel the Sacred in nature. I heard this comment the other day and it resonated with me, so I thought I would pass it along and invite your consideration…  “If the word G-O-D triggers you or doesn’t fit your belief system, try replacing it with A-W-E.” I am always looking for new ways to see and experience Spirit in our world. Part of my practice is to be on the lookout for moments of A-W-E and to find beauty in the mundane. When we are able to stop, take a breath and give ourselves a moment to pause and ground, we create space for A-W-E. My gift this very special Sunday is a small collection of photos taken these past few days where I work, at Marin General Hospital.

May we receive this first day of April and every day with gratitude and grace.

Blessings, Rev. Lisa