Veronica's Garden

Rachel Creager Ireland on writing, living, the Flint Hills, and the Post Rock Limestone Caryatids

Tag: A Course In Miracles

Do You Hear Voices?

Maybe you hear a voice speaking these words in your mind as you read them. Maybe you hear your own voice responding occasionally. Maybe a voice that you don’t identify as you jumps in to argue. It’s okay. I don’t think you’re crazy.

I once had a friend who did a stint in bed. She couldn’t sleep at night, but she couldn’t get up in the day. She couldn’t keep a job. She cried a lot. I thought, wow, she’s got a case of depression. But she went to a doctor and came back with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, because the doctor asked if she was hearing disembodied voices, and she said yes.

Now here’s where I start to get irked. I was not the first to be privy this fact, but I was definitely the first to ask, what are the voices saying? And her answer was, “I don’t know. They’re so faint I can barely hear them.” What? For that she needed anti-psychotic drugs that blew her up like a balloon? I don’t wish to disparage doctors, but for certain kinds of conditions, they are way off base.

When you or someone else hears voices with no apparent human source, there are two essential questions to ask.

1) What feelings are associated with the voices? Are they accompanied by a feeling of deep love, compassion, peace? Or do they leave you feeling anxiety, fear, agitation?

In A Course In Miracles, it is said that God is eternal, which is to say, without limit. There is no place, mind, creature, cell, atom, void, or black hole in the universe in which God is not, or which is not God. There is no separation. We are all one. Our access to Divine information and power is limited only by our belief in limitation. But the other fact we know about God (via many spiritual traditions) is that God is Love. Anything we perceive that is not infused with the beauty, compassion, and peace of Divine Love is illusion.

2) What do the voices tell you? Do they support you, help you, enable your highest purposes? Do they try to agitate you, isolate you, or convince you to do things that are morally repugnant or otherwise objectionable?

At an energy healing class, I once met a woman who told a lengthy story about going to a job interview. On the way, a voice told her to turn, then take another turn (this was before smart phones), then directed her all over town until she was hopelessly lost. Then the voice took her back to her hotel, where she went inside to call the potential employer, but the phone rang before she picked it up. Another employer was calling to offer her a better job.

The whole story always seemed kind of silly to me, and raises some questions, like, why didn’t the voice just tell her to cancel the interview and wait for a call? She could have relaxed, taken in some cable TV. But it doesn’t really matter, and she was happy, because she got the job she wanted, so ultimately the voice was helpful. A doctor could probably medicate that away, but why?

I know lots of people who regularly take advice from spirit guides. Some healers work directly with non-physical entities (including those entities called angels), who give them information about the client’s condition and how to help her/him. In some circles, no one would think twice about it if someone said s/he had heard a voice, if it was benevolent. Everyone would be concerned if the voice is manipulative, causes distress, tells you to do things you flat out believe to be wrong, or harmful to another person or yourself. This is where intuition must be tempered with reason. This is when you need help from a neutral person, if not a doctor, then find a shamanic healer, or energy healer, or spiritual teacher. If the first one doesn’t help, find someone else. If there isn’t someone near you, someone far might do distance work, or refer you to someone closer. See this article by Malidoma Some for more about different paradigms in mental health.

Events might transpire that will be very difficult to accept, painful, and threaten one’s identity or safety. This is life in three dimensions, in the physical realm, under the illusion of linear time and limitation. This is the world we live in. Every day we are alive, we have to navigate between danger and living and loving joyfully in the moment. Many, too many, of the problems we face in the world are desperately urgent, and far bigger than any of us individually. They are beyond our control, if we identify with our small selves and our fear. The compass is the heart. The heart is our compass. Look for the Divine Love within, and follow where it leads. Recognize fear, anxiety, separation, and isolation for the illusion they are. Your Divine self is bigger and more powerful than any illusion, because, in the words of my dear friend Mary Vukovic, “Love is the greatest power in the universe.”

Does Wildfire hear voices telling her to bite my toes in my sleep?

Does Wildfire hear voices telling her to bite my toes in my sleep?

Hamster Wheels

my kitchen

This is my kitchen. It is not worse than usual. I usually keep it hidden from public view. I haven’t invited someone into my home since last October, and it was ill-advised and won’t happen again. Why show you my kitchen? Why play so coy, when I could show you my dirty underwear instead?

My brain’s been running on hamster wheels all day, sometimes three at once. I do clean, it just never gets better. In recent weeks I’ve been working on this a lot, materially as well as mentally. I find a lot of resistance to the expectations of others, that I should be some ideal kind of person, keep a magazine-spread house, do the things those people do. Meanwhile I feel overwhelmed by the crap and I don’t even want to write, I need some space and some clarity and some quiet nothingness, which doesn’t happen in a room that looks like this.

I just read Marianne Williamson‘s Return to Love, about A Course In Miracles. It is a wonderful reminder to me that when I feel anything that is not joy, I am to pray for a change in perception, to miraculously know myself to be one with the Divine, whose dearest wish for me is perfect happiness. The shift I’ve been getting is that there is no one outside of myself who is holding expectations for me. I can’t even remember a time when someone expressed any thought about my lack of order. (Well, okay, it was my sister, and it happened last October, but sisters always have expectations for one another and we all ignore them, right?) What I’ve been rebelling against is nothing more than my own self-judgement.

I’m using all my new age hocus pocusey tools to change my thoughts from I can’t live up to your expectations and You expect too much it’s too hard I can’t do it I quit to I accept and love myself as I am or I access every imaginable resource for the fulfillment of my Divine purposes or both.

I was feeling pretty good about my perception-shifting this week, until I was reminded for the second time of the negative reviews posted about our motel on tripadvisor. Go ahead, look at them, then come back and look at the kitchen some more, but I’m not giving you the link. Our motel rooms are actually quite clean, in sharp contrast to the house, but when business and home and marriage are all tangled up together, well, everything’s tangled up together. My first thought was to ignore the reviews, like, for example, writers are supposed to do. It’s part of life. Just let it be.

But Kevin pointed out that there is a place on the site for responses, and thought we should take advantage of it. He’s right. It’s an opportunity to turn the situation around and demonstrate our professionalism and caring. So I had to think about what I wanted to say to those reviews, and the more I thought, the more annoyed I was. Clearly, at least in some of the complaints listed, the customer’s expectations were unrealistic. (Seriously, can you get someone to fix your cable TV service on a weekend? Do they do that in cities? We have one person who drives all over the state, and he gets here when he gets here.) Which brings us to that e-word. It turns out that some people do, in fact, hold expectations for me and my behavior, and those expectations are not within my ability to fulfill. Which means I have to start all over with my thought management. I don’t even know where to go from here.

Why can’t I just be a writer? Then I wouldn’t be obligated to respond to criticism, I’d be obligated to ignore it. I could be so much happier that way. I could just put out my best, and everyone could take it or leave it. I wouldn’t even have to refund their money if they complained. But I am so over my head with debts and commitments and bookkeeping, I’m stuck on this hamster wheel for the foreseeable future. There was a while when I dreamed of writing my way out, but I knew all along that was a fantasy.

I’d like your thoughts on one last question. When you check into a lodging, when do you expect to be asked to pay?

 

Witches, Nightmares, Memes, and Dreamwork

I wanted a picture of cuddling with Rowan, but could only find this one of my Mom, Leona Creager, my sister Melora, and myself. Sometimes when I see this picture, for a split second I think I’m Rowan.

Rowan dreamt of a witch, trying to get all the children. She told me while we were cuddling in bed in the morning. I told her, if she dreams of the witch again, to ask her what she wants. Rowan said she can’t talk to the witch because, if she stops trying to get away, the witch will get her. I had to tell her about a witch dream I had years ago.

A witch was chasing me for a long time, over many places. I knew she would kill me if she caught me. I ran and ran and when I was trapped, in a dirty, windowless, basement room, I fought for my life. It was violent and brutal. I beat her with all my strength, but she kept getting back up. Finally I woke, exhausted. I reviewed the horrible dream I’d had, trying to remember all the details. What did the witch look like? She was little, a girl, and she had brown hair and brown eyes. In fact, she looked like me.

“You were fighting yourself!” Rowan was smiling, enjoying the discovery.

“Yes, that’s why I couldn’t kill her. I was afraid of my magical self, afraid to be powerful.” I went on to tell her how I’d had so many years of nightmares, and about the box of journals I still have, filled with page after page of terrifying, violent dreams, recorded in minute detail. Rowan has nightmares, too, though she often has joyful dreams as well. I told her how there was a time when all my dreams were about running for my life, then I decided to start fighting back, then I decided to find other means than violence to do what I have to do.

It wasn’t until I was well into A Course In Miracles that I stopped having nightmares, so I had to tell her about that. “A Course In Miracles teaches that God is love. You know that, though, right?”

“Of course!”

“And God is eternal, which means there can be no limit on God. Right?”

“Yes.”

“So there can’t be anything that’s not God, because that would mean that there’s a line, God is here, but not there, so there can’t be that. Right?”

“Mama, are you God?”

“Yes, and so are you. Can God be hurt?”

“If I can’t be hurt, then why did it hurt when I got a scratch?”

It gets tricky in here. The best I could tell her is that we have a bigger self, one that is one with God and all the universe, and that, by comparison, the hurts of the little self are insignificant. But the big self can’t be hurt, so we are safe as long as we identify with the big self. A Course In Miracles teaches that there is nothing to fear. When I came to understand this, I stopped having nightmares.

Rowan thought for a moment, then said, “Okay, let’s get up now.”

I don’t expect Rowan to grasp all this easily or instantly, and I don’t want to take away what is hers to learn on her own. I hope, though, that these things I tell her will help when she needs them.

There’s something else that this conversation brought to my attention. We got up and went into the living room, where Kiran was watching a tv show about some kids who were trying to protect their computer world against their eternal villain, a hacker. We are inundated with stories, images, and rhetoric about the evil villain or the criminal who is Other and must be vanquished. These memes lie. The scary bad figure of your dreams is part of you. He or she is not the villain of children’s television shows, who must be disempowered; nor the criminal on the cop show whose very existence threatens everyone’s safety until he or she is either locked up or put to death. Sure, there are probably exceptions, but you’ll never really know if you are one of them until you take a risk. The answer is not to run, or fight, not to separate yourself from what you fear, but to open to every self that you are. Talk to yourself. Make friends with yourself. If you can’t be friends, make alliances to serve your mutual interests, because they can’t be that disparate, if you are one person, can they? Take a risk and see what happens if you let the intruder in, turn around and face your pursuer, listen to the demands of your attacker. You might be surprised at what you learn about yourself.

Sometimes you even receive a gift –but I’ll save that thought for another post.

The Divine Location

A customer came in to the motel one day and told me that he had a message for me. He seemed young, barely more than a kid, but then again he had fine lines around the mouth and eyes, like someone who’d had some wear and tear over more than just a few years. He was a bit uncomfortable telling me that he was supposed to tell me that God loves me. He had been staying here for a day or two, but the job he came to do had been delayed, and he was praying and asking God why he was stuck here, and repeatedly received the answer that it was because he was to talk to me.

Later I was telling Kevin about this conversation, and at this point in the story he began rolling his eyeballs. It’s not unusual for customers or potential customers to witness their faith to him, often immediately before asking for a reduced room price, then moving on to making the distinction between themselves and lazy freeloaders who expect government handouts. There’s not really anything in this recitation which would elicit from Kevin, or me, any sympathy or affinity with the person speaking.

But this customer, call him Eli, was different. Well, and I’m different too. I’m willing to take any help I get from supernatural sources, and the earthly sources assure me that denomination doesn’t matter, so I told Eli that I appreciated his message, even though it was a surprise because I do not identify as Christian. I told him that I usually pray to God as a Mother, not a Father, but that I was grateful for the message because I had been doing a lot lately to clear my negative thinking and feelings that hold me back. Eli didn’t have any problem with that. He told me that God is both Mother and Father, and that it takes bringing in Light to clear away the crap (my word, not his). He asked if he could pray for me, so we sat down and he expressed to Jesus’s Dad how much he hoped that I would come to see how much He loves me, to see that all the thoughts I carry about my inability to fulfill what is asked and needed of me are lies, and that I would come to see and understand how much God has invested in my happiness and prosperity.

As he prayed, and even before the prayer began, I could feel a charge of energy moving through me. It began, interestingly, in my root chakra, but before he was done, it was all through my body, and the tingly feeling persisted after Eli left the building. He told me that was the Holy Spirit.

He ended up staying for several days, and we spoke again later. He told me how he had found God while in rehab, how he’d never known who his father was, how he wanted to see Jesus, to look into His eyes. I kept feeling that Jesus’s eyes would probably be like Eli’s, open and searching, grounded in faith, but not afraid to see reality and be in it. Finally I said, “I think I’m supposed to tell you, that if you want to see Jesus, look in a mirror.” That one seemed pretty simple to me, but it was big to Eli.

At this point I started to wonder if we had been brought together not just for my benefit, but for both of us. Because what I had told Eli was something that maybe it takes a New Age pagan Buddhist yogi to see, which is that God is not located out there somewhere in the sky, or somewhere else equally distant and unattainable. The Divine is right here, not sitting next to us at the table, but within each of us, not in a little apartment somewhere in the brain, but living and working in every cell, in every electrical impulse that jumps from neuron to neuron. According to A Course In Miracles, God is love, and God is eternal, which is to say, without limit. Therefore there can be nothing in the universe which is not god, which is not Love. There is nothing you could say about God that would not be entirely true of yourself. You are God, which is not to say that you are above or more powerful than anyone or anything, but that you are everyone and everything. You are me. I am you. We are Jesus, and recovering addicts, and healers and swindlers and banksters and loggers and loin-clothed yogis fasting on the top of a mountain in India, and housewives in the suburbs going upstairs to make sure the beds are still made.

Before he left, Eli asked me if I thought I’d ever be Christian. I almost said, “Maybe I already am.” Instead I told him that I don’t know, but that I find the teachings of Jesus to be inspiring. I stopped short of calling myself Christian because I don’t know if Christianity, as people know and mean the word, can allow for the Divine to be seamlessly woven into the fabric of my being. Can it? Is Christian God always out there? Or not?

Wasp As Totem, part II

I’ve noticed there seems to be some interest in wasp as totem, or perhaps more a dearth of writing on the subject. Wasp is a totem of protection and security, so it may be particularly appropriate in these days, when security means invasion of many kinds of privacy, or flying drones across oceans to kill our perceived enemies. Wasp is aggressive, and doesn’t mind hurting -in fact, wasp’s intention is to hurt that which is perceived to be a threat.

I wrote in another post that working with wasp totem is bound to lead to a sting, eventually. I’d like to clarify that I think it’s more than simple statistical likelihood (which it is as well). The sting is embedded in the form of protection that wasp offers. You might say it is the flip side of the coin, but I think it would be more accurate to say that it is the other side of the mobius, which is an object which only appears to have two sides. In fact, it has only one.

There is another aspect of wasp as totem which I haven’t seen anyone discuss. It has to do with the behavioral scripts I wrote about before. Wasp has very specific patterns of behavior. When one is triggered, the wasp goes through a totally predictable series of actions. It never varies the pattern, and in some cases will repeat the pattern as many times as the trigger occurs. One behavior I wrote about was upward flight when a wasp finds itself trapped in a confined space. It might seem obvious to humans that the way out would be to go back the way one came in; this is not among wasp’s behavioral scripts.

How could this be applied to human experience? Upward movement is sometimes a metaphor for spiritual seeking. It’s often been casually observed that when people feel trapped or threatened, they tend to “get religion,” which is to say, they begin to identify with forces more powerful than themselves. No doubt we want Divine protection from our assailants.

I would suggest that there are two lessons from wasp in this case. Wasp can demonstrate for us that flying upward is sometimes not the way out of the trap; the way out is to go against instinct, to call up one’s human ability to reason and choose new behaviors by turning around and going back, step by step, finding the way out by figuring out how one got here in the first place. It may be attractive to pray, do ritual, or read new age books, but because most of the walls we encounter are self-created, the only true liberation is to take them down, block by block.

The other lesson is that the way to avoid the protective sting is to give up protection altogether. It was shocking and impossible for me to believe when I first read in A Course In Miracles the words: “There is nothing to fear.” It’s that simple. Still, it took a lot of practice and thought before I could begin to live as if all the things I feared weren’t what my life was all about, as if everything that happens is what is intended for the greatest joy for everyone involved. It’s hard to believe on the best of days, but I find I am only free when I make choices as if this principle is true. There is no need for protection, because there is nothing to fear.

And that sting? It’s not something to fear, either. So far I’ve successfully avoided it, even when one once flew into my face while I was escorting it from a small room with a broom. Still, it’s always a possibility, just as there may come a time when wasp protection might be what I need. I may not notice, though; I’ll be too busy dismantling walls.

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