24 January 2012

The Spiritual and the Physical

Over the last few months I've taken up running again.  Now, I feel the need to point out that I am not exactly what most people would consider an athlete. I'm not slim.  I don't have boundless energy.  I don't glow, rather I sweat like a hog. I'm a short, pudgy, diabetic with pretensions of athleticism.  I've taken up running again (I ran when I was a kid) for two main reasons: to improve my health and, more importantly, to find a better way to incorporate meditation into my life. 

Like most modern Americans, I need to exercise more and stress less.  Exercise is all well and good as a healthy habit but I really don't pick up new habits unless they support my spirituality and magickal practices.  I figured that the only way I was going to be able to really hold on to any form of exercise as a regular part of my life would be to make it part and parcel to my spiritual practice.  It's easy to make hiking in the mountains a spiritual practice because dear gods the mountains are glorious - the interurban trail is less so.  So how do I go about making my thrice weekly pounds around the neighborhood, past the quick-e-mart and the pub, spiritual?

I started off by focusing on my running technique.  I picked up the kindle version of Barefoot Running Step by Step because the idea of running in a more evolutionarily appropriate way than pounding on your heels sounded a lot less painful than what I had been doing.  I've found that running barefoot style is a lot easier and more natural than conventional running and it has an odd way of increasing mindfulness.  Mindfulness, that buzzword of the meditation scene, basically refers to the condition of paying attention to the moment rather than letting your thoughts drift about.  When you're whole mind is enrapt with the thousand natural sensations and bodily observations that running produces it's pretty hard not to be mindful.  After a few weeks of running this way I found myself finally achieving a runner's high - something I had previously thought was just a myth.

Since I seemed to be achieving mindfulness to easily just by paying attention to my feet and knees as I ran along I decided to see what other folks had to say about running meditations.  I picked up Zen and the Art of Running and was happy to find that I was not alone in feeling like running could really support my spiritual practice.  That book talks about the basics of mindfulness and attention and how to allow running or other intense physical activity to focus your attention and make mindfulness more natural. 

I find that shifting meditation time from sitting quietly and focusing on something (which I really do all day anyways) to deliberate movement (i.e. exercise) has really improved my relationship with the depths of my brain.  I've always been crap at traditional zen meditation. My mind is like a rabid hamster that runs on its wheel until it passes out from exhaustion.  Sitting and emptying my mind has really never worked for me.  Doing something intensely physical, like hiking up a mountain or running a long distance, has a way of pulling me out of my head and into my body that makes it impossible for that hamster to keep going and makes a meditative state seem natural.

Now that I'm engaging a meditative practice on a regular basis I'm beginning to appreciate what people have been saying about it for so long.  It helps me to clear my head, de-stress, and refocus my mind from everyday trivialities to more weighty things.  Anything that lets me stop worrying about groceries and my next oil change and lets my mind contemplate the complexities of the soul has got to be a good thing.  If you've been having trouble just sitting and meditating I highly recommend engaging the body with the mind instead. 

And for those of you with smartphones, I highly recommend the Buddhify app.  It's basically a guide to meditation for the busy young professional.  It's quite fantastic.

17 January 2012

Snow Day!

Not getting much done, but it sure it pretty.

We've gotten at least 3 inches so far today and are supposed to get at least as much over again.  Good thing I've got lots of soup.

04 January 2012

Curses and the Aura

Yesterday I promised you a good meaty entry so here you go.

I get a lot of emails from people with subject lines like this: “HELP VOODOO BLACK MAGIC CURSE!!!!!” - except the usually have more spelling errors and random punctuation.  These folks are genuinely frightened and upset by things that are happening in their lives and they do need help.  Are they cursed?  Unlikely, but you never can tell.

Now, of the many emails I get from people who believe themselves to be cursed I’d say about 10% or less of them appear genuine.  For me, a genuine curse is focused and potent negative energy sent from one person to another with the specific intent of doing them harm in a particular way.  This almost never happens.  In order to send a proper curse someone has to have a strong will, a deep understanding of energy work (including the consequences of lobbing a curse), a certain amount of skill, and the willingness to accept the consequences.  Most people that have a deep understanding of the way energy really works don’t want to burden themselves with the consequences of cursing – it’s just not a very good idea 99.999% of the time.  Most people who want to curse someone don’t have the ability to manipulate energy very well.  Yes, the co-worker or neighbour that hates you can flood your surroundings with negative energy but that’s not a curse it’s just being a dick.

However, when you believe yourself to be cursed you can effectively curse yourself.  If you look at everything that happens to you that doesn’t fit into your plans as some kind of deliberate attack you will make it so.  The mind has power to affect the physical world –this is the basis of all forms of magick.  When you believe yourself to be surrounded by the malefic you will draw it towards yourself.  The principle of like attracts like is the basis of all sympathetic magick and that holds true to the negative as well as the positive.  The more you allow your mind to unfoundedly color your experience negatively the more negative energy you will attract.  Once you’ve stepped onto the downward spiral of negative energy - voilĂ , you’re cursed. 

At this point it’s time to do a hex-breaking to help break the vicious cycle of bad begetting more bad.  In my book I’ve got several different levels of hex-breaking broken down into simple, easy to follow instructions so I won’t got over them here.  Performing a hex-breaking will sever any attachments to negative energies coming from within or without (so it doesn’t matter if someone’s actually out to get you or if you’ve worried yourself into things), clean up residual negative energy, and strengthen your personal shields to help protect you in the future.  Hex-breakings are great tools, but wouldn’t it be better not to have done this to yourself in the first place?

The best protection against curses, from within or without, is a strong personal energy field.  The aura, our personal energy field, is the natural shield that distinguishes us from our surroundings.  A strong, solid aura is a natural defense against curses.  Imagine a strong aura as a perfect sphere made of solid teflon – nothing sticks to it and nothing gets through it – if negative energy has nowhere to grab a hold of us then we cannot be cursed.  Unfortunately, almost no one has that perfect an aura.  As we go through life we experience annoyances, angst, and tragedy.  Those negative experiences can scratch and mar the aura, giving external negative energy a handhold, and real trauma can even shatter it completely.  The more we’ve been through the more pockmarked and scarred our aura can be, and most adults have at least a few decent cracks that make the very core of our beings vulnerable.  Thankfully the aura can be healed and strengthened.

The goal of modern psychotherapy, ancient spirituality, and a good chunk of religions is to heal the mind and connect the self to greater powers (be it the collective unconscious, archetypal understandings, or deity).  This is also the goal of shadow work.  Working with the shadow is basically the process of looking at the cracks and craters in our sense of self and doing what is necessary to heal them.  Each time we learn to accept a fragment of our shadow we heal a part of our souls.  Each time we heal a part of our soul one of those auric craters fills in; the cracks begin to mend. 

A whole, healed aura makes us curse-proof and it’s the only thing that can do so.  All the shielding and energy work in the world will still leave you vulnerable if you’ve got a crack in your soul.  If you think you’re under psychic attack take a good look at yourself and ask just what it is about you that left you vulnerable.  Worry less about what might be coming at you from without and more about what about you lets it in.

03 January 2012


Well, I've been rather distracted lately and I apologize for the lack of decent updates the last few weeks.  I promise a good substantive post by the end of the week.  In the meantime I'd like to introduce you to my newest distractions: Cordelia and Miles. 

These are our new Boxing Day kittens.  We decided that one cat wasn't enough and contacted Laurie over at Itty Bitty Kitty Committee and asked if she had any kittens available.  She had one and her friend over at Pitter Pats of Baby Cats had one.  We met them, fell in love, and the rest is history.
Cordelia is a bit cheeky.

Miles is a lover, when he's not being insane.