Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Human Cycles

In the world around us we can see the operation of all kinds of cycles, events that follow a repeating sequence of connected activity. The changing of the seasons is one example, the movement of water from liquid to vapor to liquid again is another, and so are the cycles of day and night and the changing phases of the moon. Some people believe in a cycle of life, death, and rebirth, but since that is not so easily demonstrated, it has to remain a theory for most other people.

There are two significant characteristics of a cycle that are of interest here. One is the repetition of experiences, and the other is the uniqueness of those repetitions.

Year after year, in temperate climates, we can experience the sequence of spring, summer, fall and winter. But every season is different every year whether in different locations or the same ones, and in spite of the arbitrary dates of the solstices and equinoxes, every season starts and ends according to the whims of Nature. In the animal world we can observe cycles of migration, of hibernation, and physical changes of skin and fur and color. Yet, even though the same animals are involved, each experience in the sequence is always different, both for individual animals and for different animals of the same group.

There are cycles in the lives of human beings, too, some dramatic and some more subtle.
Probably the most dramatic and influential of these cycles for women is the menstrual cycle, because it involves not only physical changes, but emotional and mental changes as well. And those personal changes may have dramatic effects on other people, as well.

In my experience and study of many cultures around the world I've found that this powerful cycle does not affect all women in the same way. While the same basic physical changes occur, emotional and mental reactions to those changes can vary tremendously. These reactions, of course, then affect the physical reactions to the basic changes. While the experience of individual women in the same culture can vary greatly, the modern, Western assumption that the period of menses is always a time of great stress is simply not a reality in some other cultures. Cultural attitudes about it can have a very strong effect on the personal experience. In some cultures the period is treated with shame and fear, in others as a mere inconvenience, and in others as a time of culminating female power.

Physical changes, even the most natural ones, always create a certain amount of stress, because it is a natural response of the body to resist change. The degree of stress that an individual woman experiences during menses, however, depends partly on her attitudes about it, and partly on the amount of stress she is currently experiencing from other sources. The more stress she is under for whatever reason when menses occurs, the more strongly her body will react to it.

The more or less monthly cycle of menses happens within a larger cycle that doesn't have a specific name. This one starts with the onset of menses at puberty and repeats itself with the onset of menopause. Although very different in detail, both are part of a human cycle of physical change.
The start of menstruation, called menarche, normally occurs between the ages of 8 to 16 (12 is just an average). Menopause is said to occur between the ages of 45 to 55, with individual differences, of course. Some women experience what is called "perimenopause" for several years before the major changes of menopause appear, and this is when "hot flashes" may start. Although "hot flashes" are associated with menopause also, not all women have them. Since many men may not know what these are, I'll explain that they are "episodes of flushing with a sensation of heat that may or may not include sweating, and are often accompanied by palpitations and sometimes followed by chills...Hot flashes are most common during the first 3 years after menopause...and...50% to 90% of postmenopausal women experience hot flashes (source: www.knowmenopause.com)." These figures were based on studies of Australian women over a period of seven years, so the figures might be different for other countries and cultures.

What is of interest for us at this point of the article is that the hot flash symptoms of menopause are identical to symptoms brought about by other forms of stress. At various times in my life, even as a young man, I have had the same types of symptoms, the most alike being when I was suffering from bouts of malaria. And I only suffered from those bouts of malaria when I was also under a great deal of stress from other sources. The inevitable conclusion, based on my ideas about stress, naturally, is that the symptoms of menopause, and all other symptoms of cyclic change, are due to a natural resistance to those changes compounded by an excessively high level of stress tension from other causes.

Since this is an article on human cycles, we can assume that men have cycles that are similar to those of women. Male puberty is an obvious place to start, since it begins at roughly the same age period as does that of women. Although the cyclic changes that follow are not nearly as obvious as those that women have, from personal experience and conversations with many other males I can vouch for the fact that men definitely do have cyclic periods of sexual arousal that differ in period and intensity for different men. And there is a growing body of scientific evidence that men experience a close equivalent of menopause, called "andropause" or "viropause," between the ages of 40 to 55 (with exceptions). Here are some of the typical symptoms that have come out of studies (source: www.midlife-passages.com):
Hot flashes and sleep disturbances
Fatigue, loss of a sense of well being
Depression
Joint aches and stiffness of hands
Irritability and anger
Reduced libido
Reduced potency
Changes in hair growth and skin quality
If it sounds similar to what women go through, it's because the relationship between the testes, testosterone, the brain and the pituitary gland is the same as the relationship between the ovaries, estrogen, the brain, and the pituitary gland. And, exactly as with women, the intensity of the symptoms corresponds to the ongoing level of stress tension that each individual is experiencing.

The conclusions are three:
1. Men and women have very similar cycles of life changes.
2. The more you do to relieve stress tension of any kind, throughout your life, the less troublesome these natural life changes will be.
3. If you are already in your menopause/andropause phase, the more you do to relieve stress tension of any kind NOW, the less troublesome these natural life changes will be.

Here is a related Hawaiian proverb: 

Pi'i ka nalu, he'e ka nalu, ke nalu nei ka moana
Waves rise, waves recede, the ocean is full of waves
(this contains a play on the word nalu, which means "wave" and "to ponder something." Therefore, another translation could be "Thoughts come, thoughts go, there are many things to think about")

Friday, January 6, 2017

Thirteen Questions

Some time ago I was asked to fill out an interview questionnaire based on thirteen questions, but I don't remember whether it was ever published. The website of the organization sponsoring the interview is now devoted to something else, so I thought it might be interesting to the visitors of this site if they could read my answers to those questions.

1. What is the greatest dream in your life?
The greatest dream in my life is for everyone on Earth to be able to access their own power, to understand how to love each other, and to know the benefits of using both of these together.

2. What does true happiness in life mean?
True happiness comes from being able to experience happiness as a conscious choice.

3. What is the most valuable thing that one cannot buy and why?
One cannot buy health, because it has to come from within. Not all the best medicines or treatments or doctors or shamans or psychics can make one healthy if one's body and mind do not respond to them.

4. What are your 3 most important tips for enduring health?
Bless the present, trust yourself, and expect the best.

5. What do you believe is the meaning of life?
Human life, like any life, simply exists. It is we ourselves who apply meaning to it ... or not.

6. If you knew that the world was going to end tomorrow, what would you do today?
I believe that a hypothetical question deserves a hypothetical answer, so no matter how I respond to a question like this my answer would be pure fantasy. Therefore, I might as well say I would try my best to finish my current computer game.

7. What are in your opinion the 3 biggest mistakes that one can make in life?
In every moment we are always doing the best we can in that moment, given our current beliefs, desires, fears, expectations and state of mind and body. A "mistake" simply means that we didn't get the results we wanted from whatever we did. In other words, our plan didn't work. Rather than dwell on "mistakes" it would be better to make a new plan.

8. Where do you find comfort during difficult times?
In Nature. In times of high crisis or stress, when I'm not directly involved in healing it, my mind, body and spirit get relaxed and recharged by walking alone in natural surroundings, whether along a beach, across fields, or through woods. It is not just the distraction from the troubles that helps. I actually get insights and inspirations from stones, trees, and flowers that help me solve my problems.

9. If you had three wishes to fundamentally change things on earth, what would you wish?
I would wish that human beings could fly, that they could teleport, and that they would never experience fear.

10. What can an individual person do to promote a peaceful society?
Be peaceful. Outer peace has to begin with inner peace. Violence is committed, and/or directed, by insecure and fearful people who believe that the only way to bring about peace is to force others to do what they want them to do. This kind of behavior never has and never will result in any kind of peace. Achieving peace requires peaceful means carried out by peaceful people.

11. Assuming you meet somebody who knew the absolute truth to every question, what 3 questions would you ask?
I would not ask any questions because there is no such thing as absolute truth in an infinite universe.

12. Which book (or books) have impressed you personally and why?
The Bible, because it is such a rich source of inspiration and ideas; the Seth books, because they are a treasure trove of excellent techniques for self development; the works of Odgen Nash, because I love his quirky humor; and practically any book of science fiction or fantasy because they stimulate my own imagination.

13. What would be your most important piece of advice for people who are searching for a fulfilling life?
Be a healer. It doesn't matter what kind of healer, as long as you remember that in helping others to heal themselves you are healing yourself, and in healing yourself you are preparing to be a better healer for others. The art of healing can help you develop all the other qualities you may wish for, and it helps to expand your spirit to a far greater extent than anything you might accomplish by only going within.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Changes

I huli i ke ola, e huli i ke ola
In order to change your life, change your life

(Hawaiian proverb created by me)

Creation, however, whenever, or if ever it began, was and is a process of change. Mythologically, we can speak of the First Wave created by the mating or merger of W√§kea, Chaos, and Papa, Order. That first wave gave birth to all other waves, and all of Creation is composed of waves (at least according to this story).

Regardless of whether you believe that, what we do know is that everything we are aware of is in a constant process of change, whether we call it waves, vibrations, frequencies, or whatever. If it exists, it moves. Water, stone, fire, wind, plants, animals, humans... they all exist in a state of change. Everything that we call stable, or solid, or even dead, is still moving, and therefore changing.
In order for change to produce any kind of experience, it must partake of the qualities of both chaos and order. This results in movement within a pattern, what we usually call waves, vibrations, or frequencies. Another way to say it is that there must be both movement and resistance to movement to produce a pattern.

It's easy enough to see this operating in the physical world, especially at the level of electrons, atoms, and molecules. It's also evident in Nature with the changes in earth structures, the passing of seasons and days, and cycle of birth, growth, and death in plants, animals. and people. It's evident as well in the physical changes in our human bodies. When there is too much movement, as when water gets too hot to remain a liquid or when human hearts beat too rapidly to sustain life, there has to be a change of state--water becomes vapor or human beings die. When there is too little movement, as when water or humans become too cold, there also has to be a change of state--water becomes ice and human beings die. In between, everything has a range of movement or change in which it can maintain it's viability as an entity or organism.

The concept is just as valid, although not as evident at first, in the thinking and behavior of human beings. In order to exist as human beings we must keep changing emotionally, mentally, and spiritually to some degree. In order to thrive as human beings (which is not the same at all as merely existing) we must grow to the utmost of our potential. When we have outgrown the possibilities afforded by one current pattern of living, and if thriving is our intention, then we must change our pattern of living. The time will come for all of us when we have outgrown our individual possibilities for life on earth, and then each one of us will transform into something else. Until that happens, though, we still have the choice between existing or thriving.

When you outgrow the possibilities of any lifestyle, in order to thrive you have to make a major change and a whole new phase of growth takes place. When that becomes stale, you have to change again. I will never forget, after living an incredibly exciting life in West Africa for seven years, the last time I spent an evening with the Berbers of Mauritania in the Sahara, sitting on a carpet on the sand at sunset outside a tent while the men in front of me prayed to Mecca and the women prepared a meal behind me and the camels made their gutteral sounds while they chewed their cud and the stars began to fill the sky. It was wonderfully exotic, and I felt bored out of my skull, because I'd done that too many times. That's when I decided to return to the States, not having any idea of what I would do or how I would take care of my family. Was it easy? No. Was it exciting? Not always. Sometimes it was pretty scary. Did I thrive? Oh, yes.  

Since then I have made many more changes, in where I lived and what I did and how I did it, each time driven by the desire to thrive instead of exist. And I expect to make more changes and thrive some more.

Change will happen, because life is a wave. We can either ride the wave or be pushed by it, but change will happen no matter how much we wish it wouldn't. What will happen? Where will will it take you? How will we cope? We have no idea. When we don't know the answers to those questions and we're determined to thrive anyway, that's called adventure.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." So says Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 5:9 by the King James version of the Bible. Like many good sayings in the Bible, however, it needs clarification.

What exactly is a peacemaker? This is a very important question because there are some seriously distorted views roaming around the planet.

In the Wild West of the late 1800s in the United States the term "Peacemaker" was applied to a .45 caliber Colt revolver based on the logic that the way to create peace was to kill whatever disturbed it. Unfortunately, this kind of logic is still applied when nations send "peace-keeping" forces to other nations to quell unrest. While this may be a political necessity at times, it is really "conflict control" rather than peace-keeping.

Peace is a harmonious state of mind, body and society in which conflict is either absent or resolved without violence and in which relationships are mutually empowering and cooperative. A peacemaker, then, is one who facilitates this kind of state.

That means we can find peacemakers in the healing professions among nurses, doctors, faith and psychic healers, traditional and neo-shamans, and therapists of all sorts.

There are peacemakers among spiritual advisors, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Peacemakers exist in the ranks of management consultants, negotiators, government agencies and businesses which foster peace by providing the means for it through technology and services.

Politics makes strange bedfellows and some of them are true peacemakers. Believe it or not, the military services also have real peacemakers.

The test of a peacemaker is not his or her profession or avocation, but rather the the intent, the approach, and the results.

The intent has to do with what you are trying to accomplish. If, as a healer, your intent is only to kill a virus or prove the effectiveness of a technique, you are not a peacemaker even if a state of peace in the patient comes about. If you negotiate the best possible deal for your company and peace happens to occur between the companies, you are not a peacemaker. You become a peacemaker when creating peace is the framework for your activity.

The approach refers to the means you use, because the means determines the end. Violence may stop or suppress other violence, but there won't be peace without a switch to peaceful means. A war can be "won" with arms, but peace has to come from cooperation.

The results are a matter not only of skill, but also of persistence. A particular application of skill or technique may not work in a given situation, but it is more important that you keep on trying to find a way toward peace that does work.

So you may already be a peacemaker without realizing it; you may decide to alter your life and become one; or you may know that you are one now. Whatever the case may be there is nothing greater you can do.

You may ask why I say that. Instead of a long explanation I'll give you a short Hawaiian proverb:

He ali'i ka la'i, he haku na ke aloha
"Peace is a chief, the lord of love"
(where peace is, there love abides also)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Shamanic Healing In The Wake Of A Disaster

In response to many requests I am posting a shamanic-style meditation for helping all those involved in the aftermath of any type of disaster.

1. It doesn't matter where you are or what posture you are in, and you don't have to close your eyes if you don't want to. If I have to tell you not to close your eyes while you are driving, then you need help, too.

2. Imagine a comfortable place. It could be out in Nature or in a building, it doesn't matter as long as it's comfortable to you.

3. Ask for a symbol of all the people who were hurt in any way, physically, emotionally, mentally, or materially. Let the symbol take the form of a single natural or man-made object, a sound, or a feeling. This allows you to focus on helping many people without strain. If you want to ask someone or something specific to provide you with the symbol. go ahead. Otherwise, just trust and ask.

4. When something new or different appears in your imagined comfortable place, accept that as the symbol. If the symbol needs fixing or healing, use your imagination to fix it or heal it. If the symbol looks or feels fine, do something to make it even better, or imagine filling it with strong, beautiful energy in the form of light or sound. When you are finished, silently say something like "amama," "so be it," or "amen."

5. Next, ask for a symbol of all those involved in helping the people who were hurt, and follow the same guidelines given above. You can do this for as many symbols for as many different things as you want, such as the animals, the plants, and the buildings, but I suggest that you do it for the hurt ones and the helpers, at least.

6. When you are all finished, just say, "Mahalo," or "Thank you," and trust that the good powers in the universe will respond by manifesting your intentions in whatever way is possible.

7. Repeat the process whenever you feel moved to, for this problem or any other that may come up.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Meaning Of Life

In one of my writings I tell the story of a man who searches the whole world for someone who can tell him the meaning of life. Finally, after much struggle, he finds a guru at the top of a mountain who tells him, "Life is just a bowl of cherries." When the man gets upset, the guru says, "All right, life is not just a bowl of cherries."

The purpose of the story was to illustrate the first principle of Huna: The world is what you think it is. Logically, then, life means what you think it means. That, however, is neither satisfying nor very enlightening. Isn't there a better, or at least a more clear, way of discovering the meaning of life? Well, of course there is, because there's always another way to do anything (a corollary of the second and seventh principles). I'll suggest two ways right now.

The first way, however, requires that you give up the notion that the meaning of life can be put into words. The meaning of life expresses itself in the living of life, not in a set of words about the living of life.

It only takes a little observation to realize that life is a process of change and growth, adaptation and renewal, healing and learning, creativity and transformation. When the process of life is expressing itself freely the subjective experience is one of physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual pleasure in varying degrees. If you strongly resist any part of the process of life, you will experience varying degrees of physical, emotional, mental, and/or spiritual pain.

There is a natural kind of resistance in life which plays the role of a change agent, or catalyst, to enhance the process. It is natural, for instance, to experience an initial resistance when anything changes in your life, whether for good or for bad. Regardless of the nature of the change, or even what we might term the "volume" of the change, what matters most as far as effects go is the way you respond to the change. In 1967 two U.S. Navy researchers named Holmes and Rahe published a scale of positive and negative events ranging from the death of a spouse to taking a vacation or spending Christmas alone and attempted to correlate the number and type of changes within a year to a person's state of health in the following year. In a follow-up study, researcher Suzanne Kobassa of the University of Chicago noted that some people with high stress scores didn't get sick, and others with low scores did get sick. She also noted that those who had high scores and didn't get sick shared some common characteristics: a life plan with established priorities (3rd Principle); a high level of self esteem (5th Principle); an internal sense of control (6th Principle); and an action orientation (7th principle).

To make this concept more clear, negative effects of stress only occur when the initial resistance to the event is acute (very strong) or chronic (sustained over a period of time). Extrapolating from the information above, this would tend to happen when a person
  1. does not have a life plan or priorities;
  2. has a low level of self esteem;
  3. has a sense of being out of control; and
  4. gets stuck in reactions rather than taking action.
Change is part of the life process, and so is resisting change. That's what creates a wave. Change is only a problem, and only causes pain, when reactions are unnatural, rather than natural. An unnatural reaction, which is probably better called a learned reaction that resists life instead of promoting it, consists of some combination or variation of Fear, Anger, or Doubt. The more fear, anger or doubt you apply to any part of the life process, the more physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual pain you will experience. In short, as you participate more fully in the process of living, then your life will seem to have more meaning, and whenever you go against that process, life will seem less meaningful.

The second way of discovering the meaning of life takes a different approach. In this case, it recognizes that when many people ask about the meaning of life, they are really asking "What is the purpose of life?" And underneath or behind that question is "How can I make my life more meaningful (i.e., important, purposeful, or worthwhile)?"

Unfortunately, the best answer I can give to that question is to start doing something that you believe is important, purposeful, or worthwhile. You don't need anyone's permission and you don't have to live according to someone else's idea of a meaningful life, but sometimes other people do have good suggestions. It will be much more difficult to just start doing something to the degree that you
  1. do not have a life plan or priorities;
  2. have a low level of self esteem;
  3. have a sense of being out of control; or
  4. get stuck in reactions rather than taking action.
On the other hand, if that's the case, then you can get a good start on giving your life more meaning by resolving those issues first.

If you are one of those rare people who are born with a clear purpose, or one of those equally rare people to whom God, or angels or spirits have told you directly what you are to do (and you have believed the message), then congratulations. You are probably only reading this article out of intellectual interest. But, if you are like most people in the world, the bad news is that, while it's not impossible that some external source might someday give you a meaningful purpose that you find acceptable, the greater likelihood is that that won't happen. The good news is that you don't have to wait around for external sources to make up their minds. You can, whenever you wish, screw up your courage, take a deep breath, make a great leap of faith, and choose your own purpose.

So, friend, how are you treating life today?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Today Is Different

Once I was taking a morning walk through a familiar neighborhood, beside a familiar golf course, along a familiar coastline, past familiar trees and flowers, to a familiar cliff overlooking the ocean. 

My Body was giving me perceptions of sights, sounds, smells and feelings while my Mind was registering patterns and making interpretations. "That's a street, that's a path, that's a tree, that's grass, that's a cloud, that's the ocean...." said my Body. "Ho hum, here's the same old walk again," said my Mind."Borrring!"

Then my Spirit interrupted. "Wait a minute! Look again. That leaf wasn't there yesterday. Those clouds and those waves are not the same ones, either. And did you ever notice that particular ridge outlined in that particular way by the sun? Look again. Today is different."

Suddenly I realized, in a very real and physical way, that my Spirit was right. It was not only a different day, it was, by any meaningful definition of reality, a whole new world. It only seemed the same because I was looking at it through old eyes.

One very useful characteristic of human beings is our ability to recognize patterns, and to apply pattern recognition to our environment in thousands of practical ways.
In the natural environment we can learn weather patterns that will help us to prepare for planting or hunting or sheltering, animal and plant patterns that will assist in our food gathering and production, rock and land and water and star patterns that will help us on our journeys. I have used such patterns on numerous occasions throughout my life for such things as finding my way through the Sahara Desert, navigating across stretches of open ocean, and getting in and out of wilderness areas on Kauai.

In an urban environment we can learn street and traffic patterns to help us go where we want to go, building and address patterns to help us find what we want to find, and people patterns that will help us to define who is doing what and why. In my travels around the world I have encountered people wearing many different kinds of costumes whom I was still able to acknowledge as policemen because of pattern recognition. And this same abiity has enabled me to drive a car in various countries, even when it was necessary to vary the pattern for driving on the left or the right.
We can recognize a forest, regardless of the types of trees that are in it. We can recognize dogs and cats, regardless of the specific breeds. We are really, really good at recognizing patterns.

However, there is a serious potential problem with pattern recognition. The problem occurs when we stop looking at the world as it is, and begin looking at the patterns instead. When we stop looking at people, and look only at patterns of people, we can fall easily into the traps of racism, prejudice, bias and bigotry. When we stop looking at our environment and look only at patterns that we superimpose on the environment, the we lose touch with the power and healing and adventure and awesome variety that actually exists there. And when we stop looking at ourselves, and look only at some perceived pattern of ourselves, we tend to identify with the pattern and become afraid of change.

Perhaps this is the key to the age-old idea that most people are asleep and that a true perception of reality requires that they wake up somehow. If so, then they aren't really asleep at all. They are just looking at the world through old patterns, through old eyes. The solution, then, is not to wake up; it is to look differently.

Not everyone wants to do that, but if you do, here is a suggestion. In some classes I do an exercise which consists of having people look at a familiar environment and find something new in it. To begin with, "look" with any of your senses for something you never noticed before, or use a sense that you've never used in a particular way for a particular thing in that environment. As a variation, when you enter a new environment, purposely look up, down, and in the corners for details that you might normally gloss over. With a lot of practice, you'll be able to sense your world differently more often. And if you forget, as I still do from time to time, trust that Spirit will remind you.

Finally, if you are truly interested in learning how to see differently, it's a good idea to study just enough science and metaphysics to understand that the Universe is changing constantly, even while it keeps repeating patterns. Which means that the patterns are always changing, too. There is power in that knowledge, and if you love life enough you can find it by putting your old eyes aside and using new ones.

Yesterday was, and never will be again. Tomorrow isn't, and can't be reached. Today neither was nor will be. Today is different.