Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Great Shift and How to Navigate It

Image by Sar Maroof
We are living during extraordinary times. So very many are asking the same question these days; "What is happening around us?" We live in a time of accelerated change and transformation. We see severe climate change, massive oil spills, and species dying off. We see corruption in banking, politics, and religions around the world. We see fear, anger, and hopelessness in our communities. Greed, poverty, violence, and injustice are predominant characteristics of our civilization. What on Earth is happening?

A growing number of voices in the international shamanic community are telling us that Mother Earth and her inhabitants are undergoing a fundamental, evolutionary change--a change that many of us will experience first-hand in this lifetime. Some call it the Kali Yuga, the age of maximum darkness and ignorance; a time when the dark forces of the unconscious are at their strongest. Some call it the Era of Strife, Tribulations or End of Days. Others refer to this unfolding event as the Turning of the Age or a Great Shift in consciousness that was foretold long, long ago. This is an exciting time to be present on the Earth. It is a time filled with unparalleled opportunities for spiritual growth. 

The Cycle of Time

The ancients understood time as circular, rather than linear. Yin and yang, the feminine and masculine aspects of the universe vibrate and spiral in a sacred dance, giving birth to the sonic pulse of the Cosmos. Yin and yang ebb and flow; creating the cycle of time. Behind the cycle of time lies an ongoing evolution of consciousness. Just as a tree has annual cycles of growth and retreat but continues to grow year after year, so all things have an inner growth process in which consciousness continues to develop through life after life.

The civilization process goes through four eras or ages. Like the four seasons in our year, there are four stages to man's evolution in the full cycle. Each cycle has distinct themes and spiritual lessons for humanity. Ancient astrology places humanity under the legendary four ages: the Golden, Silver, Bronze and Iron ages. We find this belief in world ages among the Greeks as well as the Hindus. In Sanskrit these are called the yugas or world ages of Satya (the first), Treta (the second), Dvapara (the third), and Kali (the fourth). After the world fall at the end of the fourth, worst age (the Kali Yuga), the cycle starts again.

The purpose of this Great Shift, we are told, is to establish a new Era, a Golden Age of peace and harmony on the Earth plane so that humanity may experience love in ways it cannot yet comprehend. The current upheaval in society must occur. Destruction is a part of creation. We live in a world of endless cycles. We are quite literally witnesses and participants in the shift from an old paradigm into a new one. We are part of the emerging consciousness, and the signs are everywhere. It is here now and we all have a part to play in it.

What Can We Do?

It isn't hard to see that even though we live on a planet that surrounds us with beauty, that there is a lot of darkness manifesting within humanity. We must learn to deal with this dissonant energy. We cannot make sense of it because it is entirely destructive. Instead we must hold steady within ourselves and observe its chaotic behavior from a place of power. If we do this, it will be unable to feed on us. Our inner calm and stability will help contain its voracious energy and it will be unable to do as much damage as it would otherwise. It can be easy to lose hope at times, but there are many opportunities for spiritual growth and meaningful action during this time. Here are 10 helpful guidelines to navigate these dark and turbulent times:

1. Take Total Personal Responsibility for Your Life

Personal responsibility is taking conscious control of how you think, act, and feel in response to the events and circumstances in your life. Accept yourself and your circumstances. Accept responsibility for who you are right now. It's not other people who made you the way you are, but only your own choices, thoughts and actions. Learn to harness the power of your thoughts, for your consciousness does indeed affect the stream of thought upon this world. You must be ever mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Your reality is the perfect, exact mirror of your thoughts and what you consistently focus upon. You are creating your reality all the time. Every thought you think, every emotion you feel is creating your reality. Give yourself the permission to create the life you want. As responsible human beings, let us affirm a world of peace, harmony, and balance. Let us cultivate care for life and one another. See things as they are, in process of change, without fixation on imbalance; see the potential and call it forth.

2. See the World as it Truly Is

The world that you see around you is nothing more than a very convincing illusion and can completely change in the blink of an eye. The quantum theory of physics states that our material world is created over and over before our very eyes each instant we perceive it. Our world is ultimately no more real than a hologram. It is just an illusory product of our mind. Light is the only true thing that we can see in the world. The challenge we face is that light manifests itself, as well as darkness. Consequently, there are two spiritual forces that we deal with on planet Earth everyday--Light (positive) and Dark (negative). Light energy is unlimited and comes from the Source. It's highly vibrational, expansive, and full of love. Dark energy is dense, negative, and goes against the flow of the universe. It's about manipulation, power, conquest, and fear. Darkness is part of who we are, and we all have to take responsibility for it. The darkness that is now showing itself everywhere will eventually consume itself and perish, for it has no inner light to sustain it. Remember that no matter how hopeless the world or your life seems it is only a mirage. Light is the only real thing there is. The rest is a dream.

3. Learn to Live With Your Heart, Not Your Mind

We live in a highly visual world that continually bombards us with stimulation, exposing us to a multitude of sensations that keep us in our heads. In a rapidly changing world, we won't be able to figure things out mentally, so it's best to go back to our heart and be there whenever possible. If we are able to get in touch with our hearts, we will be able to connect with the guidance of our own intuitive knowing. Intuition reveals appropriate action in the moment for a given set of circumstances. To live fully from the heart we must learn to still the mind and quiet the emotions so that our personal truth can emerge. Stopping the chatter of the mind frees us of fear, doubt, and limitation. Take the time to quiet the mind, whether in meditation or prayer, and ask to be taken into your heart's sacred space. While you are there, practice seeing the world from that point of view. The energy that comes in from the Source is directed through our hearts. When we are in sync with the heart, we are in sync with the Cosmos. As we learn to live from the heart we are able to move with the ebb and flow of change with grace and ease.

4. Seek Equanimity or Steadiness of Mind

According to Buddhist teachings, equanimity is an unshakable balance of mind. The kind of equanimity required must be rooted in the insight that we create our own reality. Nothing that happens to us comes from an external source outside ourselves; everything is the result of our own thoughts and deeds. Because this knowledge frees us from fear, it is the foundation of equanimity. To attain equanimity as an unshakable state of mind, we must release all attachments to negative feelings and thoughts that float on the stream of mind. It requires diligence and commitment to release such attachments. The moment you feel some thought of fear, anger, or doubt creeping into your mind; simply let it go. Allow it to drift off on the air of the wind, on the breath of life. Breathe deeply and gently exhale any tension you might feel, clearing the energy channels of your body. You must be gentle with yourself, in spite of your errors, and gentle with others who react from a place of fear or anger.     

5. Develop a Spiritual Practice

A spiritual practice is the regular performance of actions and activities undertaken for the purpose of inducing spiritual experiences and cultivating spiritual development. A spiritual practice is something you do every single day that grounds you in your own truth and helps you get to know your inner self. It is important to remember that each person is different and so what works for one person may not work for another. The key is to choose an activity that makes you feel calm, centered, and relaxed. A spiritual activity might be gardening, hiking, running, dancing, chanting, making music, painting, meditating, praying, doing yoga or tai chi. Regular spiritual practice helps to build spiritual strength and this in turn becomes our protective armor. We must not fall into hopelessness, but instead must strengthen our personal practice and act as a light in dark times for those around us that are lost. Any behavior that is kind, gentle, generous, virtuous, sincere, respectful and reverent, is emulating behavior that brings us closer to the next stage in the cycle, a Golden Age of primeval peace, harmony, and prosperity. When we bring ourselves fully into the present moment, our life becomes the spiritual practice.

6. Incorporate Drumming into Your Spiritual Practice

Drumming is perhaps the oldest form of active meditation known to humanity. It is a simple and effortless way to still the chatter of the mind, thereby inducing altered states of consciousness. It is one of the quickest and most powerful ways I know to open the heart and connect with a power greater than ourselves. Drums can also be used for prayer, healing, and clearing our homes of negative or unwanted energies. When we pray and drum with intent, the drum amplifies and carries our intentions to the Loom of Creation, thereby reweaving the pattern of existence in accordance with those prayers. Shamans have understood for centuries that sustained focused attention on a specific intention, while in a state of inner silence, channels the Source energy of the universe into manifesting the physical equivalent of the focus. The key to understanding the power of the drum is to realize that the universe is made of vibrational energy. According to quantum physics, everything in the universe, from the smallest subatomic particle to the largest star, has an inherent vibrational pattern. The entire universe is created through vibration and can be influenced through the vibrations of drumming.    

7. Cleanse Yourself and Your Home of Negative Energy Daily

Smudge yourself and your home each day. Smudging is a method of using smoke from burning herbs to dispel negative energy and open the energy channels of your body. Sage, cedar, and sweetgrass are traditionally used for smudging. Light the herbs in a fire-resistant receptacle and then blow out the flames. Then use a feather or your hands to fan the smoke around your body and home. I recommend cracking a window or door for ventilation and for releasing unwanted energies. Additionally, learn how to make your own consecrated or holy water and use it for cleansing, protection, and blessing. Many people will dismiss the power of holy water based on its association with the church. This is not about religion; this is about a pragmatic solution to an age-old problem. The fact of the matter is that holy water is the only thing that darkness cannot manipulate. It's your best protection against negative energy. It's also important to establish clear and healthy personal boundaries: the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated or used by others. Define your core values, belief system, and outlook on life so you have a clear picture of who you are and how you want to live. When linked to your core values, boundaries help you align your daily activities and behaviors with your life's purpose. The passionate expression of our Soul's purpose is precisely the medicine the Earth needs at this time. 

8. Pray Without Ceasing

The word prayer is derived from the two Sanskrit words 'pra' and 'artha' meaning pleading fervently. In other words, it is asking God (or whatever term you'd like to use for a higher power) for something with intense yearning. To pray without ceasing means to be continually in a reverent attitude of prayer. Regular prayer is a cornerstone of spiritual practice. Over time, frequent prayers help to dissolve our mind and through them we gain access to Divine consciousness. Praying brings us Divine help, reduces our ego, grants us forgiveness of mistakes, and more. Words have great power. In the shamanic world, words transform substance. I am now going to tell you about one of the most powerful phrases in the world. Simply open or conclude your prayers with the words "In the name of Jesus I pray." Praying in the name of Jesus evokes all of His power and protects us from darkness. Again, this is not about religion; it's is about choosing the right words to liberate us from the power of darkness. The reason this prayer is so powerful is that the name of Jesus is not just a passive word. It is a creative word, like the sacred Word by which God created the universe. When spoken, it produces a vibratory resonance that allows this creative energy to be called forth. Simply chanting the words "Lord Jesus" helps us assimilate that aspect of Divinity that his name represents. It can be done anytime and anywhere, helping us to remain in communion with Him at all times. 

9. Give Thanks

Giving thanks and being in a state of gratitude opens our heart, allowing our indwelling presence of being, our Spirit, to rise forth unimpeded. Gratitude, like any other spiritual practice, is something we do, not just something we feel. And it's something we need to practice. Try to cultivate a spirit of gratitude in all things. Even in situations that seem difficult to give thanks for, just remember that you are on the Earth to experience, learn and grow. An "attitude of gratitude" in all things helps connect us to our core values and purpose for being here. Foster a reciprocal relationship of meaning to the Earth. Take time to honor and respect the reciprocal cycle of give and take, for Mother Earth provides everything we need to live and flourish. Express your gratitude through prayer and offerings. Give thanks also for the things you are praying for. Giving thanks before needs are met is a way of making space to receive them. Expressing gratitude for something before it actually appears in your life develops trust and confidence in your ability to create.

10. Keep Your Heart Open 

The most important thing you can do at this time is to keep your heart wide open. To keep your heart open, be willing to accept what life brings you. Resistance is futile anyway and what you resist persists. If there are challenges on your path, trust that there is a lesson to be learned and growth will occur as a result. You need a completely balanced and open heart to be able to hold steady during these dark times. Make a conscious choice not to be swept along by unfavorable circumstances or permit your steadfastness to be shaken. Be mindful of who you are. You are a being of light, capable of the most extraordinary things! You were put here on Earth to hold a steady place in an unsteady world. Remain calm and centered in your power. Never compromise or lose sight of your goals and principles. Such an attitude will sustain the inner light that exists within you in even the darkest of times. We each have a part to play during this dark time. Be as you were born to be!