Finding the Courage to Change

(this is the 5th installment in “Maya’s Book of Change.” First installment began July 17, 2011)

When I found myself at a certain stage of readiness to change, and had come to the end of a long bout of self-destructive behavior that included addiction and hanging with totally inappropriate people, I sought help. Only then, when I was ready to change, people started appearing in my life to help that change occur at an accelerated rate. Sure, I read books. Who doesn’t? You seek out any means to help a transformation: a book, a workshop, a blog, like one you’re reading right now! But reading or coaching from others only act as momentary cheerleaders. They don’t do the actual work that’s necessary in order to make effective changes in one’s life. That’s something each and every one of us has to do by and for ourselves.

Time to change ... dive into IT

Time to change ... dive into IT

Let’s face it, nothing comes easy! If you ever gave up a habit such as smoking cigarettes or overeating you know what I’m talking about. But if a person wants to breathe freely and feel healthy, he or she must shed the bad habit preventing natural health to blossom. The same goes for any other trait, such as judging others, being angry or resentful, all of which make us spiritually and emotionally unhealthy. So let’s start by being clear about something.

Change never happens by giving something up. Change only happens when we substitute a new, positive habit for a bad, destructive one we wish to be unburdened of.

When I stopped smoking I started exercising regularly, doing more yogic breathing practices. I felt my body weakening and purposefully wanted to used my breath, and my mind, at a higher capacity. After several attempts (that bridged decades), playing with success and failure like a hell-bent yoyo-twirler, today I am a committed and happily recovered nicotine junkie. I did it by saying to myself over and over the affirmations, “I am a nonsmoker. I am a healthy person with healthy lungs.” But let’s be honest, this habit-breaking of mine, as anyone’s does, took many many trys.

The same story can be recounted about my equally destructive addiction to alcohol. When I was ready, I came to grips with drinking too much by substituting the new positive habit of filling myself with Spirit instead of spirits.

So here’s the thing.

Change doesn’t happen overnight—but it will happen—if you want it. You may have a couple false starts. You may fail miserably, but guess what? It doesn’t matter! You can always start again. If you fail one day you can start anew the next, or the next moment, the next breath. There’s no such thing as failure, there’s only different degrees of trying. And believe me, it’s in the trying where you will find your true success.

So now that you know a little bit of where we’re heading—changing from unhappy, fear-filled to content-with-self, and fearless to try – just how do we plan on accomplishing this magnificent, and quite staggering, seemingly inhuman feat of becoming something we’re not?

One tiny little step at a time, that’s how.

A book is written by putting black squiggles on paper, one stroke at a time, or typing one letter, one word, one phrase, one sentence, one page, one chapter at a time. Many strokes, many lines, paragraphs, word-counts later, sometimes years later: a book has finally been created. After the editing process (which for me, by the way, is 90% of my writing process and accounts for the hardest, most diligent work; before that, the actual creation part is fun and a piece of cake and a thrill to enact) … time has evolved into something entirely different than it was before starting out on this journey of transformation. When we are in the middle of it, or have undergone the process of personal transformation: time becomes T.I.M.E.: T.his I M.ust E.arn.

Don’t you just loathe hearing that?

Time? We have to earn … time?

No. That’s not what the acronym means.

It means that by giving yourself time, you will earn whatever it is you desire. That by holding true in your mind’s eye your goal, whatever it is you want to achieve … in time you will successfully accomplish it.

out of the lowly Earth we emerge to the heights

out of the lowly Earth we emerge to the heights

Time is a tool. Time is a vehicle, a means, a song, an uplifting melody upon which life can be elevated to a place that will appear, indeed, magical! If you just allow time to be.

And how does one do that? To give Time … time? Give time … space.

Courage is how.

Courage is when a person musters all the fierce strength that is falsely related to the heart (the Lion in Oz wanting a “heart”). But really, let’s be honest—courage comes from a gentle mind knowing what it wants.

When a person stops beating themselves up for not being what they wanna be, not having what they wanna have, they begin to experience a gentleness called self-love. If you don’t know what I mean by this, stick around. We’re going to be talking a lot about self-love. And no, this is not the physical sensation of touching oneself in private, so stop guffawing, silly.

The self in “self-love” is obviously the damaged (ouch! don’t you hate to hear that word!) part of our psyche that we all have (another name for it: human nature) that is our challenge, our “ticket” if you will, by which we’ll learn how to approach the vast and seemingly unattainable subject of The Big It.

The Big It, for refreshers, is the universal Spirit that connects all.

It is precisely through each person’s personal scars, deep fears, life challenges, flaws, hang-ups, whatever you call your own personal human condition (some say “sinner” but I shudder at that harsh, judgmental label). Whatever we prefer to call our reasons for inviting change into our life, each one of us is given the opportunity to break free of what holds us back from being what we truly are.

And what might that be?

At our human birth we entered life with a clean slate, an unscarred psyche. Our nature was angelic, truly.

So to change into our “higher Self” from our “lower self” we don’t need to change anything, really; we just need to remember what it is we truly are, and always have been. Children of Great Spirit, Cells of One Consciousness, part of the thing called God: Spiritual Beings in human form. We remember we are a Light-filled being, once again, when we gather our courage and let go of what we don’t need any more (the flaws, hangups, challenges, etc.).

This is who and what we truly are.

unveil your true Self!

unveil your true Self!

Truly, underneath all the bruises, shake-ups and break-downs of our lives, behind our fears, our inhibitions our neurosis and hang-ups … each and every one of us is pure Love in physical form.

Courage and Love go hand-in-hand.


Here’s an exercise you can practice so you can become more familiar with your inner courage. Allowing yourself at least ten minutes to complete this exercise, sit quietly with no distractions. Shut off your TV, music, radio, computer, cell phone. Tell the dog to lie down and go to sleep. Wait till the kids are down for the night. Tell your partner/mate to give you some quiet space and … make time for this first step journeying into the inner chambers of your heart, where you will learn to love your own Self.

Sit comfortably. Close your eyes. Listen to the sound of your breathing. Let your breath come in and go out in regular, even counts, slowly, for a count of 4 or 5 breathing in, the same count for the out-breath. Continue breathing in and breathing out in this consistent manner.

Find your comfort zone.

Focus on your breath.

If a thought comes into your head, just watch it, as if it were a bird drifting onto the horizon of your mind, your blue-sky precious, clear mind.

Pretend your mind is a dome of brilliant blue sky (inside yourself of course; this is a visualization). Your mind is free, open, relaxed.

If a thought does happen to skitter onto this beautiful scene (yes, the mind does like to think!) think of it as if it were a little bird flying into your vision, and just watch it. Don’t shoo the little thought-bird away. Don’t talk to it if this thought-bird tries to “talk” to you. Just watch the bird (or leaf, or butterfly, if that’s easier for you) as it flits and flies around your blue-sky-mind and slowly, slowly, it will disappear, if you don’t engage with it. Thoughts like to chatter. If you refuse to chatter back at them, they give up and leave you alone.

After a few minutes of this quiet time of breathing and relaxing, bring the idea of I AM Courage into your mind.

Ask for Courage. Request it from the originator of all, which we’ll call pure consciousness: The Big It.

Ask nicely. Ask with conviction. Ask softly. Ask sweetly. Ask for Courage. Really want it.

And it will be given you.

The first step to change is wanting it.

The second step is asking for courage to change. Asking your own inner self, which is part of the Big It, or asking help from any other idea of sacredness or divinity you are comfortable with. Do not ask another person or group of people. Just your own inner courage and your own Higher Power, whatever that means to you.

Now, once you have engaged this center of inner power, go ahead and ask for Courage.

And believe it when you get what you ask for. That’s one of the basic laws of the Universe.

If you never ask, you won’t get what you want. And once you ask … you get, sooner or later. Your request may not be fulfilled according to your time schedule … but it will manifest, surely, truly, in T.I.M.E.

So remember to do this exercise many times, if you wish. Once is sufficient, but usually people feel so good in this quiet connection with our deeper selves that you may want to repeat this exercise many times. And so do! You are the creator of your new life. You can do whatever you wish when you own your own inner Courage.

How to Meditate, in answer to a friend’s request

This is dedicated to all those who are suffering from life’s challenges, whether of a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual nature. I just received an email from a friend who has been in great physical pain for months and has tried all medications. He was told to try meditation but hasn’t a clue where to begin. So … in your honor, Mike, I present these simple, step-by-step suggestions. Remember, there are many many ways to meditate. This is simply my “quickie” gift, and I’m somewhat limited by the fact I’m not face-to-face with you, and cannot speak the instructions aloud. However, if you follow these instructions, and repeat them frequently (daily, at least) I guarantee you, you will enjoy the benefits of what meditation is: developing an inward life; a release from worldly-exterior problems, a lowering of stress, a heightening of hope and positive energy concoursing through your body-mind-spirit … the different but equal parts of YOU (even if one part of your human nature hasn’t been developed, you have not yet experienced your real human potential, the real you, the Self-healer).

1. First, secure a safe, quiet physical environment, to the best of your means. Turn off all communication and entertainment electronics (phone, computers, TV, music) and create a clean, comfortable, and pleasant place to sit. Sitting upright in a chair with your legs on the floor (not crossed!) is best for beginners. If you’re more flexible you may try the floor, but for beginners this will only create an uncomfortable physical situation. So forget that for now, but DO start taking hatha yoga classes if you wish to become more physically (and spiritually) flexible. If you are lucky to have a “helpmate” have the other person read these instructions aloud as you go into meditation. With practice, you won’t need to hear the instructions read. You will intuitively know what to do after a few simply tries.

Please remember what meditation is, as we proceed. Meditation is the turning-inward of your mind. This means that we will be practicing having no thoughts … something our ever-thinking mind is not accustomed to. So … to achieve this we must give our mind something to focus on, so it won’t think! As we proceed, please let go of any preconceptions about what you think meditation should/ought/will be. It is different for every person. But if you do what I recommend, you will be meditating, even if you don’t feel like anything’s happening.

2. In your comfortable seated position, with your hands resting on top of your thighs, and your spine as straight yet relaxed as possible (you might want to put a little cushion in the small of your back to support the spine’s natural curve), close your eyes and your mouth, and very intentionally, focus your mind on your nose breathing. “Watch yourself” take a looooong breath in (for a count of 4 or 5) and then watch yourself as you slowly release this breath for the same count (of 4 or 5). Do this quietly, with no talking, no movement of any kind, for several minutes. As you watch your breath really FEEL the breath come into you like the life force it is. Imagine the breath is like LIGHT, that slowly fills you. As you let go of your breath, FEEL the breath leaving you, and imagine your breath is spreading LIGHT throughout the world. Focus your mind on this simple practice of breathing-in (for a count) and breathing-out (for the same count). If you “forget” to count and find yourself simply breathing slowly, rhythmically, steadily … you are already in meditation. Don’t think you have to “hold onto” the counting. That is simply a “tool” to help you get into the “meditation groove.”

This following-the-breath method is the simplest way of entering meditation. If you’d like to try another technique that I highly recommend, you may also want to try this after a few rounds of breath-focusing. And that is …

3. The Mantra-Repetition method of meditation: When your mind has stopped “chattering” with endless strings of thoughts (that is, has quieted down after several rounds, or several minutes of following-the-breath …or longer if you’re a “freight-train” kind of person) … slowly and with sacred intention silently repeat the phrase: Om Namah Shivaya (pronounced: Ommm Na-mahhhh‘ She-vay’-ahhh).

This Sanskrit mantra is the most ancient and most sacred of all and carries a lot of grace in its vibrations, its sounds. You may “think” of its meaning as well as repeat its words, if you wish. Or … after knowing the meaning, you may simply focus on the sound of the words) and just remember the meaning is sacred. Like you are. The meaning of Om Namah Shivaya is: OM (called “the seed mantra” it is a sacred sound used since antiquity to represent all creation); NAMAH means “to honor,” and comes from the same verb as Namaste, the yogic greeting that means “I honor the Light of divinity within you”; and finally, SHIVAYA: Shiva is a Vedic scriptural name for God-Within that translates as God-as-consciousness). So the mantra Om Namah Shivaya can be translated as, “I honor God within myself, as myself: I honor my Higher Self.”

On each in-breath silently repeat Om Namah Shivaya. On each out-breath silently repeat Om Namah Shivaya. Continue in this way, steadily focused on both breathing and repeating the mantra Om Namah Shivaya. If the mantra “falls away” and you find yourself drifting into … well, who knows? … simply and gently bring your awareness back to the mantra when you realize you have drifted from its sound. There’s nothing wrong with “drifting away” from repeating the mantra. But if your mind starts to “think” you need to start once again to repeat the mantra Om Namah Shivaya to stay in that meditative state. Otherwise, you’ll just start “thinking.” If your mind stays still and is comfortable not not repeating the mantra, and doesn’t start thinking, this is okay too. Just rest in that stillness for as long as feels comfortable.

Be kind to yourself. Don’t expect more than a few minutes of this thoughtless, this deep tranquility, this One-ness, at a time. For beginners start with five minutes, then try ten minutes. Gradually you can build up to 15 or 20 minutes, but slowly, and with love and respect for your physical, spiritual, and emotional “newness” to this psychic exercise. Developing your “psychic muscles” … which meditation is, takes time and patience. Be kind to yourSelf, please! In time, you will be able to slip into meditation anytime, any where, even for just a few moments. This is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Practice meditation to relieve any distress in your life. And pretty soon you’ll be meditating just for the sheer joy of it. Embracing Inner Bliss is the result of maintaining a meditation practice. You’ll be amazed at how quickly that bliss comes into your mind, your heart, your health, and all aspects of your life.

4. Remember to slowly come back to “normal” consciousness after your meditation practice. Give yourself a few deep breaths to revitalize the body. Wiggle your toes, bend your fingers. Stretch. Yawn. Slowly stand up and …. Smile forever!

Om Namah Shivaya

Your pal who loves you, each and every one of you, Lordflea

Stillness, the inner drama

Stillness, the inner drama

Never Give UP

hi friends,

it’s a gorgeous day here in st. augustine, florida! the ocean is warming up after such a harsh nino-driven winter. the damaged plants are beginning to unfurl their bitterly bitten faces to the once again benevolent sun. trials, test, storms, continuous harshness–we have survived! just like the plants and animals in nature, we humans will survive just about anything put out to us—if we never give up!

learning lessons from nature

learning lessons from nature

bio-mimicry is a scientific study of how we can “copy” and learn from observing how nature has so magnificently maintained its steadfastness through these millions of years of Earth’s existence. Take the drawing above, for instance. This is a place in Costa Rica called “the whale’s tail” in English, “playa de ballena” en espanol. The first time I saw it, and understood its “bio-mimicry” significance, I was awe-struck. Allow me to share with you the impact it had on me, and how i think it relates to all of us, each person, as we try to compassionately share this spinning blue planet in the middle of space.

The “tail” you see projecting into the Pacific Ocean is a very long, about half-mile long, sand bar. It gets completely covered up with each high tide, and with each low tide, the shape of the whale’s tail is revealed! People walk out to the very end of it during low tide. However, during high tide it would be difficult to even swim out due to the dangerous rocks and currents.

The most amazing thing about this natural land formation is …. THIS is where whales come to mate! THIS is where they are somehow, mysteriously, alluringly, attracted to come, and they feel safe enough to join in union. Here is where of all places on earth, whales are drawn to relate to the land as if it were an extension, a replica in more basic ways than just “the physical shape” of their own watery existence.

Truly, this place speaks an immeasurable, unknown “bond” between one type of life (land) and another (sea).

How does this relate to my life? to yours? to the entire world’s ability to persevere and work for raising our consciousness until one day—yes, it will happen!—we will ALL realize we are a true family of man sharing this gorgeous garden planet of ours?

land and sea, air and you and me--we are ONE

land and sea, air and you and me--we are ONE

have you ever been to a place, or met a person for the first time, and felt instantaneously “at home”? As if you’d been there before, known them before, felt safe and unthreatened where, and with whom you were at? This is the “message” of “the whale’s tail.” The uncanny, ineffable reasoning that, for some of us (like the whales in their centuries-old relationship with playa ballena) we “see” the places, the beings with whom we can feel the interconnectedness of all life. Someday soon, people will elevate themselves to understand this, and we must always work for that goal, keeping it in plain sight. This is the expansive “psychic side effect” of practicing meditation on a consistent basis. By sitting quietly and allowing your mind to shut off (for at least a FEW minutes!) one is….like the whales attracted to the whale’s tail beach close to the equator….we feel “at home” for some unknown, unexplained reason. We know we are safe. We trust our inner connection to something much much bigger than our little ol’ life.

When we stop trying to figuring everything out, when the discussions of politics and religions, and the endless intellectual reasoning ceases, if only for a little while….what is left is….everything! Everything is connected. And to “feel” this one must exercise a “new muscle.” Your newly developed, invisible “muscle” is the psychic ability everyone has, but very few people take the time to develop, that allows us to perceive unity consciousness. Oneness. Just like a person who wants awesome abs, if one wants to feel as related to all of life as the whales feel to this unusual land formation on a sandy shore in Costa Rica—learn to follow your breath. Breathe in, and watch how the breath stills your mind. Breathe out, and observe the intrigue of the life force, your breath’s opening an inner gate within you. Continue following your breath, slowly, purposefully, reverentially, in and out. If a thought comes along, just observe it….as if your “idea” was merely a cloud passing through the “blue sky” of your mind. Just watch it. You don’t have to “catch it.” You don’t have to “talk to it.” You can just …. watch it disappear. And what is left when your thoughts disappear?!!?

your true nature, connected to all

your true nature, connected to all

Ahhhhhh….that is when you wil see for yourself the never-endingness of us all. How we have a safe and secure place inside us, just as the whales have found offshore of playa ballena. Go within, watch your breath, follow your breath to the cave of your heart, and relax. Live a little! connect with the highest there is, and then, when you’re ready to resume your “life”….go back to work, hang out with your friends, feed and clothe and raise your family….you’ll be strengthened by this connection we all have. If we only TRY to find it inside. Never Give UP. Oneness is there, waiting for us to discover. Follow your breath. Watch the clouds of your mind drift away, revealing the magnificence of you.

we are all interconnected

we are all interconnected

in Light and Love, lordflea singing with you!

Staying in the Light

hi friends…

i sent this painting to a friend this morning via e-mail:

we are all the LIGHT

we are all the LIGHT

and thought i’d take a minute to talk about it, seeing as she wrote back wow! see, this painting i did when i was first embarking on my journey into what i call “the Light.” What is the Light? Well, to me that is a way of speaking about a higher perspective in life, a higher vantage point from which to view all of what occurs in this here spinning globe’s daily machinations….the global, universal, cosmic serial soap opera some call … “reality.”

But to me, who was once a familiar guest on the dark side …. i definitely prefer to see life as being about choices, and believe me, just as someone has said “i’ve been rich and i’ve been poor, and believe me, i’d rather be rich,” so too i can say, “i’ve resided in the Dark and i’ve learned to embrace the Light, and believe you me …. it’s way more fun here on the side of the Light.”

How do we get to reside in the Light?

practicing choices

practicing choices

and it is just that … practice. with each new choice, we have the opportunity to discern what’s going on, to “think out” the results of our choice, and to make either a response or …. to merely react. Believe me, it took me years and years of choices, bad choices, mid-okay, barely decent choices, kinda feebly good choices—until finally, one day i learned to get quiet, go inside my own inner Self (meditation) and …. ask my Higher Self what to do. Yep, that’s right. I’d consult with the interior manager of my life …. my own inner self.

I like to paint these weird things i think about. in case any of you who are new to lordflea are wondering about this strange art. here’s another way i depict how to tap that inner state we all have….if we only follow our breath, get quiet, and …. go within. choose to try it today. and maybe tomorrow, also.

noname, the inner guide

noname, the inner guide

here’s simple instructions to tap your “Inner Self”:

find a quiet place, shut off cell, phone, TV, etc.

make your body comfortable. use pillows. try to sit up, close your eyes

listen to the sound of your breath coming in, and leaving you

notice how you can make the in and out breath the same, in volume and length

follow your breathing for a while….notice how your thoughts stop

notice …. how your breath fills your attention

your breath is the gateway to you Higher Self, follow it

if you get distracted by a thought, just pretend it’s a cloud passing through the “blue sky” of your mind’s wide-openness….and watch the thought pass

keep following your breath

when you feel still, inside and out …. you may just sit and observe

… or, you may ask your Inner Guide a question.

be sure to not “think” the answer yourself. Just ask. Follow the breath. Wait for a response from … the Light.

This exercise may take practice. Don’t give up! Developin your “psychic muscles” is just like developing any other muscle: you don’t go to the gym just once and deserve awesome abs, now do you? So….if you want to “live in the Light,” please just practice going within. Inside your own being you will discover the entire Universe. You may even find out that that is where heaven truly resides.

mud people arising, one by one

mud people arising, one by one

staying calm in the middle of chaos

from confusion and chaos into the LIGHT

from confusion and chaos into the LIGHT

nature or people--storms happen!
nature or people–storms happen!

the chaos of life can happen at any time.  storms come, sometimes as weather systems-storms, hurricanes or floods; at other times, storms are made up of just plain people with their threats, problems, troubles, illnesses, and neurotic modern-day dysfunctions. storms can surround us, even if we don’t want them to. it may not be our own problems that get us down…it may be others’ that are more challenging than our own. but when we’re surrounded by these life-storms, triggered by people we love, people we know, or just people who are in our lives (at work, at church or temple, at our clubs or groups, social or … while shopping, at the bank, wherever)–we can learn to detach from others’ negative influences.

here’s what i visualize when i’m feeling overwhelmed, surrounded by others’ frenetic energies. it happens, sometimes more than others: feeling caught within the web of life’s myriad life-storms.  we don’t have to let them attack us all. we don’t have to be the victim of others.  but whether we’re prepared for them or not…life-storms come, over and over.

Find the person in this mess, and pretend you are he or she and discover the secret of how i, and millions of others like me, have learned to deal with stress:

in the "I" of the hurricane

in the "I" of the hurricane

how can we possibly DO this? how can one learn to maintain such calm in the middle of life-threatening, happiness-stealing craziness? learn the tools of how to meditate. learn to breathe. learn to focus your mind. learn to avoid negativity and instead, focus on positive. for ME, just me, I have learned to do that most effectively by being a student of a meditation teacher. there are many people who teach meditation these days. i’m sure anyone who wants to learn how to meditate, to calm their minds, can find themselves one. if not, there are many books, and CDs, even DVDs available.

meditation is the key to inner peace … even when one is experiencing extremely stressful situations in their every minute … if you learn to meditate, you can go within to a place of deep peace. and relax.  and breathe.  make space in your crowded mind.  with this psychic tool (meditation) you can handle any of life’s stresses.

i promise.

a few, excellent meditation teachers i recommend are: siddha yoga, a worldwide meditation revolution, with groups meeting in major and off-the-beat cities throughout the USA, and in many countries throughout the world. Swami Chidvilasnanda is the meditation master teacher. many books, tapes, and tools are available in their book store. the Green Mountain Dharma Center, where Thich Nhat Hanh and his students offer wisdom, books, and other meditation aids.

sally kempton ( ) ; chogyam trungpa and pema chodran ( ) ; deepak chopra ( ), and many other buddhist, yogic, and mystical teachers of all paths.

Many teachers, many interpretations: One Path–to the Light.

from chaos and confusion...into the Light

from chaos and confusion...into the Light

remember…if you invest in your own inner peace, you–your Self!–will reap the benefit of your actions. Be at Peace. Go Within. Breathe in the God-Wisdom that resides within your own heart. Let Go, let God (as in Good-Orderly-Direction, “God”).

An important thing to do, and an image to visualize as you strive for staying calm in the middle of chaos, is how I work with this most sacred sound, called the “Seed Mantra”:

the sacred sound of OM

the sacred sound of OM

breathe gently, and empty your mind. it may take a few breaths, a few minutes even, but…your mind will become still if you “command” it to! then, on a gentle out-breath, make the pleasing, resonant sound of OM …. visualize its sound comforting you, engulfing you …  surrounding you … your voice sending out Om-sound-healing vibrations to the world … inviting into your heart healing peace that soothes your aches, pains, sorrows and stresses.

Om may also be used as a silent mantra for meditation.

begin to practice being calm in the middle of life-storms, and watch how your calming energy affects other people. the world needs all the help it can get, with calming peaceful individuals practicing these meditation techniques with regularity. won’t you start today, to help our world heal from the turmoil and intolerance that besieges the human heart? start by visualizing something like this:

sending the Light out to ALL from the core of enlightened humans...join the solution and stop being part of the problem

sending the Light out to ALL from the core of enlightened humans...join the solution and stop being part of the problem

In the Light, lordflea