Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reading Adventure # 3 ~ The Mindfulness Solution

On the 24th of May, 2011, I opened my third book in my list of 13 books that I promised myself I would read. Book number three is The Mindfulness Solution by Ronald D. Siegel, PsyD. I am not going out and buying the books on my list of 13. Nope, I don't have to buy these books because I already own them ... I just have not read them. As a re-cap my book list came about after I had a burst of energy and did some serious deep cleaning and became acutely aware of all the books I own but have not read. And I am not talking about just the 13 on my first list! The list of 13 is comprised of the books that I found next to my bed ... I have yet to make list of my unread treasury to be found in  bookshelves and other places around my home where my unread books are kept.

As I read the first paragraph in the preface of The Mindfulness Solution I  became aware of a thread of commonality in the first three books on my list. The apparent similar theme is awareness of and control over our thoughts and how we can alter our perception and experience of life with awareness/control. Or at least from my perspective and from the pages I have turned thus far that appears to be the theme :-) This thought, this concept, this idea of becoming the master of our thoughts is not a new concept and not a concept that I have never put into practice. 

I am looking forward to discovering how Ronald D. Siegel shares his experiences in applying mindfullness to his life. Maybe, I will come across a fresh, new method of Mindfulness practice? Maybe. Maybe I will become "re-inspired" to put more effort forth towards my own meditative practice?  Maybe.  Maybe, I will discover something new within the pages of The Mindfulness Solution. Maybe.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Loving/Loved Leaving The Desert Part Deux

(Photo by Maryanne Mesplé. A Course in Miracles)
Now? Now, I can stop putting things off and write. The photo above is of my original copy of A Course in Miracles and you can see how much I love the book by the front cover. The front cover of my first volume is ready to fall off and the gold lettering is almost gone from my finger tips gripping around the edges of the books pages. I read Leaving The Desert pretty much the same way I read (x 14) A Course in Miracles. Turning pages I would stop and go back a few pages because my right mind would whisper that my wrong mind had drifted off several paragraphs ago. Right mindedness being our mind where we are in line with our spiritual truths/heritage and wrong mind being in line with the bratty ego. If you treat yourself and read Leaving The Desert you will have a clear understanding of the two minds and how we always have a choice. Much like my book(s) ACIM (I have several) Pauline Edward's book did not escape my pen nor my bad habit of writing all over the margins of the pages. The underlining, the notes to self, the stars, the exclamation points, the question marks all for present mulling over and for future reference when I re-read the page, the chapter, and often the entire book. I am sure I will be turning the pages in Leaving The Desert several times a year.

(Photo by Maryanne Mesplé, ACIM well read)

There are many people who write books about ACIM. In fact, it was Marianne Williamson's book, A Return to Love, that really pushed me into taking A Course in Miracles seriously and apply the lessons to my life versus intellectualizing the text as a novelty in the New Age Genre. There are other authors out there also who have been successful with their books about ACIM and if you look around you will see many.  Because I am a student I try not to miss an opportunity to read about another student's journey ... always looking for that connection ... that sense of the oneness ... always looking for the aha! within the pages of well thought out sharing. Pauline Edward authored a beautiful sharing of her journey through the desert that exceeded my expectations. I am so grateful. I now have another book that I can love the writing off the cover. Another book that I can wear the pages out and write all over. I now am a lover of Pauline Edward as an author and admire her determination as a "happy student" of the course, and I find myself even more devoted to my own studies.
Five thumbs up! or is that stars? :-)

(Photo by Maryanne Mesplé, Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffin)

And yes I really did stop blogging to tend to my batch of muffins that I just had to make. As Pauline pointed out in her amazing book, and I paraphrase here, we can be very resistant to certain lessons we face within the text and workbook of ACIM. Our ego runs interference and our minds wander off and become distracted so we lose our focus, our intention and stay deeply entrenched in our experience of separateness. This resistance shows up like my muffins :-) I am reading and then the next moment I am wandering off outside in the rain gathering dandelion flower heads. Then I weed and you know the drill, one thing leads to the next to the next and soon we become lost in our resistance and or distractions .. whatever you would choose to call avoidance. I was afraid to write about Leaving The Desert. I was afraid I would not say the right thing or use the right references and the list goes on. I fell into the judgement process that we all do and that the Course teaches about. I scared myself into making muffins and adding dandelion petals and fresh lemon zest and juice and crushed pineapple and vanilla yogurt. A very yummy distraction in deed!


Loving/Loved Leaving the Desert

(Photo by Maryanne Mesplé 2011)

A desert is a desert is a desert. You can do anything you want in it, but you cannot change it from what it is. It still lacks water. This is why it is a desert. The thing to do with a desert is to leave (in Absence from Felicity, p. 236).

I opened the cover to Pauline Edward's book Leaving The Desert and was hooked. I can't swear on a stack of religious text that my enthusiasm for this book is not directly related to the fact that I am very familiar with the book, A Course in Miracles. I can say in all honesty that Pauline is a skilled wordsmith and knows how to pull her reader forward ... or is it because I am familiar with A Course in Miracles that I went oh so willingly? I can't answer that question. I can say, for me, Ms Edward found words for much of what I felt regarding my personal experience reading ACIM (ACIM is short for A Course in Miracles) and she found words for so many questions I entertained and agonized over during and after reading ACIM 14 times and beginning the 15th. Bravo Pauline!

So, now on with my experience reading this book, but first I am needing something to eat so I am going to the kitchen to whip up a batch of Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins ... I found the recipe in the back of Pauline's book. I found the recipe when I let myself be distracted from reading on page 97 and then discovered on page 114 that she makes note of said recipe at the bottom of the page! Oh, yes, I am feeling a bit of resistance in this moment and ... you'll have to read the book to understand that one!

When I was reading the book Leaving The Desert and discovered Pauline's recipe for these muffins, I did not want to help myself so I let my resistance to reading her words that were pushing at my spirit, and nudging my right mindedness take over.  I set the book down, and gave in to my meanderings. Pauline's recipe is absolutely perfect and as she mentions one can do so many different variations that all you need is a good culinary imagination ... okay so that is paraphrased but as you can see there is some yummy goodness happening in my kitchen AGAIN. For "my" fruit I soaked 2 cups of dried cranberries in the juice of one fresh orange and used the zest of one whole orange and added that to the batter too. OMG! YUM is not a big enough word!

 (photo by Maryanne Mesplé, Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins, May 21st, 2011... a bit burned!)

When I was supposed to be reading but finding myself in the kitchen I was not done with being resistant ... I put the muffins into the oven and looked at the book Leaving The Desert that I was really really enjoying and relating to and then I noted the sunny day outside calling me and then remembered that it was the 21st of May 2011, you know, the day that the world was supposed to end, so,  I abandoned my muffins in their 400 degree oven and went to my garden. I played in my garden and posed post-rapture photos of what was supposed to be me but only my empty clothes because the photo story is that I was raptured up and I was silly giddy with the idea of posting the photo on my husband's Facebook page and anyways... the muffins continued baking away whist I was playing .... so the oven did it's job and I did not do my job (being attentive to baking items in a 400 degree oven) and my muffins, on the 21st of May got a little overdone but they were excellent in texture and taste! Today's muffins will be Dandelion muffins and I shall not let them burn (I am going into the kitchen now to sit with them). Oops! I am supposed to be writing about Leaving The Desert not about Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins! I'll be back shortly.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Reading Adventure # 2, Leaving The Desert by Pauline Edward

     Next up on my must read book list of books just laying around my life waiting for my eyes is Leaving The Desert by Pauline Edward. I admit to feeling a little special here. I met Pauline via a Webinar class. Of course, in reality only our voices met first, and then we Skyped once :-) I freely admit this is one of those oh so ego moments where I can brag, "I know Pauline! We are connected on Facebook and AND Pauline did my numbers for me!" Numbers? Yes, Pauline is an excellent Numerologist, Astrologist, Life Coach, Speaker, and of course Author. Take a visit to her official web site by clicking her name -----> Pauline Edward.
     I bought this book because of my connection with Pauline and also because I am very familiar with the text A Course in Miracles which is described on the official ACIM site as; "This self-study metaphysical thought system is unique in teaching forgiveness as the road to inner peace and the remembrance of the unconditional love of God." I read ACIM the first time in 1989 and since then I have re-read ACIM 11 times. So, it is easy to see why I would be interested in Pauline's book Leaving The Desert in that she addresses her experiences and application of the principles taught within the pages of A Course in Miracles to everyday life. At least that is the drift I get from reading the back cover :-). Without further delay I am now jumping into this book with both hands, both eyeballs, and bringing my attention along and crossing my toes that this reading experience is more seductive than my last.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Loving What Is ... The Book vs Me


     Finally read the last word on the last page of Byron Katie's book, Loving What Is. It is not that big of a deal for me to take what feels like forever to read a book. I can say with certainty that when I find myself toting a book around for longer than two weeks it is because the book is more of a technical manual than a book. My experience with this book was the same experience I have with technical manuals. Is that a bad thing? No, not at all because technical reads are journeys into learning the mechanics of something so that we can understand "how to" best accomplish what the manual is giving instruction in.
     I picked up this book filled with excitement. Loving What Is held position number 1 on my list of must read books ... must read books I wrote about awhile back ... must read books that I own but never read. Anyone who lives with me or who knows me well knows I love reading and knows I have an extensive library. I nestled down with Loving What Is and without thinking I projected onto the author Ms Katie my enthusiastic hopes of discovering delicious words to pull me forward from cover to cover. I did not find delicious words. I was not pulled forward from cover to cover much less from page to page ... BUT ...  that does not mean this book should be avoided. In the end, when I turned the last page and read the last word I admit that I benefited immensely from putting effort into consuming Byron's words. I "got it". I did The Work which is a phrase used by Byron Katie to define what she does and what the book is about. I am now doing The Work and The Work is working in my life. 
     The Work is not new in its concept of self discovery. The Work is not new in facing reality and our responsibility for how we experience our lives. The Work is not new in pointing out that we create our sorrow by holding onto thoughts that cause us grief ... and we can let those thoughts go at any time. No, The Work is not new, but with this "technical manual" in hand one can master some very simple tools needed to face our thoughts and to gain control over our addiction to catering to and being too devoted to the story teller within us ... that can fib just a bit at times!

     Here is what I did not like about this book: Byron Katie's use of endearments really turned me off. Seriously turned me off.  I knew a person once in my life that used endearments all the time. This person's use of the words: sweetheart, sugar, honey, darling, baby cakes etc. always seemed so insincere and condescending to me. Each time I would hear this person refer to me as darling and so forth my skin would crawl and my teeth would ache from the sugar. This skin crawling reaction started happening while I attempted to read Loving What Is. In fact, for over a hundred pages I had my red pen in hand ready to cross out each endearment I came upon. I would scribble out the word, sweetheart in red then re-read the sentence without the sugary syrupy word. That is how I managed to get through the non-technical aspects of this book, a.k.a. the dialog. Ugh! My red pen was my only defense, my only weapon and red strike-outs worked well for me. It was not until Page 117 that I realized I was projecting an old story of mine into the words of Byron Katie.  With this big epiphany I started applying the tools presented in the book to Byron Katie's use of endearments. Although I had been doing The Work because it is required as one reads from chapter to chapter, I had not thought of using The Work on the book about The Work! Doing The Work allowed me to finally put my pen down and I no longer needed to scratch out in red all the sugar in the dialog. Proof to me that Byron's method of confronting our thoughts, and doing what she calls inquiry can be beneficial if we are willing. I let go and accepted that Byron uses endearments, that is "what is" and her way of talking is not my business and making her manner of speech my business was only causing me to suffer. So, I started out not liking Byron Katie's speech and my adverse reaction to her words created a rift between me and the pages of the book but now, I can read the book without rolling my eyes, without my skin crawling and without my teeth hurting from the word sweetheart. I am not letting rouge thoughts of mine create grief for me. When a thought arises that wants to whine about a person saying, "honey" or "sweetheart" I ask myself a question or two or three or four and shoo the thought or the entire story away and then life is just what it is.
     There were also some concepts that did not sit well with me but then that is true for a lot of books I read so that is no big tragedy. I am still mulling over these words of Byron Katie's: "I have never experienced a stressful feeling that was not caused by attaching to an untrue thought".  I am still undecided about her assertion that if I was hit or a victim when I was a child that I am responsible in some way either by complacency or active participation ..... hmmm, yeah, I am still digesting that one. Also she recommends we go to an enemy to ask them questions about ourselves because our enemy won’t try to not hurt our feelings and that enemy will be brutally honest with us, more honest than our friends who will say only good things. I am not sure if I can feel comfortable with this concept yet because in my experience I have a story inside that tells me that my enemy will take advantage and deliberately try to find ways to hurt me with their words and then I will have a compounded mess.

(google image)

     Here is just a small sample of what I did like : Ms Katie asserts that "every time we are hurt or bothered by what someone says or does we should look deep inside for the truth and why it hurts", now that is an idea that is worth exploring and putting into practice. I also believe as Ms. Byron discusses in her book that we need to be in the moment of now and not carry our past into the present nor be distracted by the future. Byron makes a point about myths and superstitions we tell ourselves and believe in by stating that "young or old, we believe concepts that through inquiry are seen to be nothing more than superstitions" ... can you argue with that? Well, okay, you can argue all you want but if you do The Work you will soon discover that a lot of our underlying beliefs are what make us feel so miserable when life does not go according to the fairytale we have scripted out for ourselves.  As I mentioned in the beginning of my blog there really is nothing new to self discovery within the pages of Byron Katie's book but what is new is that Ms Katie teaches the use of simple tools, four very basic questions and what she calls a "turn around" that facilitate our healing and acceptance of reality in the moment and of course Loving What Is.

     I would recommend this book for anyone who could use some lessons on how to give up or release or set free the thoughts that keep us pinned to suffering. I am giving this book to all my children but, BUT I am setting the stage for them and letting them know this book is not an adventure of juicy words that will keep them up late into the night reading. I will let them know from the moment I put this book into their hands that I am gifting them with a technical manual on how to love "what is" in life and how to be content within the present moment.