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(Published on elephantjournal.com 2/22/2012)
I’ve been led down an interesting, unusual path lately. A few years ago (like most everyone else, I’m sure) I began to endure a litany of hardships that nearly broke me in more profound ways than just in my bank account.
I lost a lucrative job in the tech industry that I loved; then I began working as a massage and Shiatsu therapist which, while I loved it, the job was too physically demanding for me after I had my second child. I was unemployed for a while, and then I finally found another job related to my former field — then lost that one within six months due to the economy tanking. I ended up moving back to my hometown, where I swore I’d never return, in order to start over in whatever way I could. It was an incredibly frustrating, stressful and depressing time in my life that was filled with anxiety and uncertainty.
I felt I needed to flood myself with positivity, with the feeling that my life was purposeful and not being wasted. I needed to feel there was a reason for all the suffering I was experiencing.
I asked in a state of openheartedness (not knowing that this was, in fact, meditating). I asked for the Universe to guide me, to show me what I needed to know, to take me where I was needed most in this world, where I could be fulfilled and truly happy and make a difference and feel like I had enough.
The Universe delivered just in time and I was offered a job that sounded good on paper, but one that I knew was destined to be a failure from day one. However, we needed to eat and there just weren’t any other jobs to be had. I felt a nudge from my intuition: take the job – there won’t be any other offers. So I took it. I worked my ass off there for a year and a half, but it just wasn’t a good fit. I was really unhappy and stressed out.Not to become rich, not idly wealthy, not to receive unearned keep – just to have enough abundance to stop every once in a while and look around and feel the warm glow of satisfaction in my chest before heading off to the next project to make more magic happen.
However, this job led me to other important doors and lessons. I had to do a lot of technical writing in that position so I was able to really hone my writing skills. It was a training ground for me, you could say. Then, upon meeting a distinct new client, I instantly got a gigantic nudge from my intuition again:This lady is important - Listen! I did.
She led me down another path, one that seemed like a huge step for me in creating a life that was more aligned with my true nature: becoming a creative writer. In that profession, even just as a part-time hobby, I felt I was a creative being who was fulfilled and truly happy and making a difference to someone in the world. Even if that “someone” was just myself.
I started writing my first book, slowly, on the side, and in secret from “the job.” And then, one fine Spring day, I lost the job. (Or I quit, or something. I’m still not sure how it all came about.) It was a combination of things that led to the split, but I’ll never forget the HR lady telling me during my exit interview, “I’ve never seen someone so happy during an exit interview before – you are positively glowing!”
Somehow, I’d managed to quit, get let go (yes, it was both), and still walk away with the ability to collect unemployment benefits and high recommendations for future employment. It was the best possible way to get out of a job one hates. And if that isn’t divine intervention I don’t know what is.
I now had the time and opportunity I needed to finish my book – so I did. (I suppose there will eventually be another story about my book and the genre I found myself writing in, which is hardly run-of-the-mill.) I practiced yoga (vinyasa) and when I took long walks/jogs with my dog, I was unconsciously tuning out and turning inward, using the time away from demanding kids and writing (and demanding kids interrupting writing) to do a type of “plugging in” to the Universe.
It felt amazing and rejuvenating to be out in nature and feeling love overwhelm me as I looked up into the sky and the clouds and the beauty all around me. Again, I still was unaware I was actually practicing a form of meditation.
Money was tight, but we made it. I got the book completed and published. I started reading and studying more and more about spirituality. Suffice it to say that several paths led me to discovering the conscious practice of meditation, instead of my unconscious connection.
You know, sitting still on a cushion or chair and deciding, “I’m going to meditate now for at least 20 minutes.” This was not a new concept to me; I’d known about it all along actually, but the practice of it always seemed out of reach or inconvenient. “I don’t have time to just sit there and not think,” I’d say. “I have too much to do! Too much to think about!” But it kept coming up. It was like I was being assaulted by it (kindly, of course).
Everything I read, every stone I turned over seemed to say, “Do it. Do the practice. Meditate.” More nudges, of course. So I paid attention. I began investigating it. And you know what really got me turned on to it? What really got my attention to try it? Don’t laugh: George Harrison. Yes, that George Harrison.
I was turned on to his solo, post-Beatles work by a friend during this time and low and behold, pretty much all he sings about is union with God, meditation, losing your ego and finding the ocean of bliss.
He was a Catholic-turned-Hindu and it was his dharma (divine purpose or path), I believe, while here on earth –– and seemingly, even beyond that brief time, since he reached me ten years after his death from cancer –– to spread the message that everyone, anyone can reach God simply by looking within, by meditating. By turning inward anyone can connect to the Divine and, by doing so, one can do anything, be anything, create anything one needs or desires, because our most basic need and desire will have been fulfilled: we will have remembered what we are here for. His message was that we are all part of the divine the way that a drop of water is part of the ocean. The Universe lives in each of us. The things I learned from George’s songs and interviews basically reinforced all the other stuff I’d been reading for the last few years in my search for peace and relief from suffering. It made it real.
So I researched how he had learned to meditate – the Transcendental Meditation (TM) method, and discovered that, wow, there was a center within a two hour drive of my house! And it was operated by none less than the Prudence of “Dear Prudence”, the Beatles song, written while they were in India studying TM with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Things were looking like they were pretty divinely intervened upon. However another problem arose: the TM center charges $1,500.00 to teach their style of meditation. Shit. Easy for a rich rock star to afford, but not lil’ ol’ underemployed me.
So I investigated further. I studied, read, found some methods that worked for me and tried it on my own. Turned out that – you guessed it — I basically already knew how to meditate. I was already doing it! (Albeit sloppily and undisciplined.) I just wasn’t aware of it.
My intuition was my guide to the calm center, to the knowledge, that had resided in my heart all along. I believe we all have this ability; we just have to be willing to listen and follow the nudges. And I didn’t know it during those times of crisis, but I was meditating to gain access to my intuition, or to receive divine guidance. What I learned along the path (and am still learning) is that being still, going within, asking for help, for guidance, for direction, for love and support will get me that guidance, direction and love, simply by asking for it.
Slowly paths have unfolded. Things are becoming abundantly clear. I’ve begun noticing things that before I’d have brushed off as merely coincidence or happenstance, but now realize that everything is divine, and coincidences and happenstances don’t exist for me anymore. Everything can be a message. Everything can be guidance. As long as I keep myself open to receiving that guidance, and am not blocked off from it (fear or ego), I can receive it constantly.