Raising Kids, Raising Ourselves: Something To Chew On For Trusting Adult Role Models and The Teens In Their Lives

Artwork by Aunt Barbara Merlotti

As a boy, I remember when Grandmother used to empathize with my complaints about teenagers by saying to me that “they were like a different species.” With no disrespect to our child who is a teen now or the teens that I work with in school, I’d say that Grandmother’s empathic statement was a spot on characterization of this unique stage of human development. Not long thereafter, I became a teenager myself, but she didn’t stop loving me or stop making me feel like I belonged. How she raised five kids of her own, especially coming from abject poverty, a significant trauma background, and no idea about how to be a parent is beyond me. But the woman had a strong survival instinct and stamina, as she had a household of five teenagers, back during the turbulent ’60s no less. Grandmother’s teenagers gave her and Grandfather a run for their money, especially by challenging the conventional cultural norms of the time. Before she could bat an eye, they all embraced the counterculture to varying degrees. Long hair, left wing politics, sex, drugs and rock and roll were all on the conversational table. Religion, conventional norms, and the Establishment were all being questioned, discussed, and protested at the family dinner ritual. By the time I came along, I thought all that was normal. And while it was natural, it wasn’t normal back then. Looking back in my time travels, I have never met anyone who would want to go back to their Middle School years again. Usually, there are other ages people fantasize about traveling back to, but not that time period.

Recently, a coworker friend inquired about what podcasts or other resources I might recommend for adults that are struggling with the challenging behaviors of the teenagers in their lives. In short, try to stand in your own personal authority, and stay away from power struggles. It’s your approach that matters. Easier said than done. Someone wise once said about parenting, “it doesn’t get any easier, it just changes.” Your kids might leave the roost, and then come back to live with you again. Before you know it, they might be changing your diapers someday. Might as well “teach your children well”, like the Crosby, Stills & Nash song posits. Nothing against having a sympathetic perspective toward someone else’s plight. But consider the power of empathy over sympathy, as captured in the following short Brene Brown cartoon vignette:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

More importantly, parents and primary caregivers have a lot more power than we realize. At the end of the day, all we can really do is arm our children with the coping skills and strategies to build their resilience, and live their lives effectively. So it stands to reason that it is incumbent on we parents, caregivers, teachers, coaches and mentors to be good role models of those coping skills and strategies. When we do that, we are co-creating a safety net together to catch kids being good, and helping them bounce back when they aren’t. Self-care is a powerful way to be a good role model, and good replacement strategy for neglecting your own needs as an adult. Are you taking care of yourself? If the kids in your life are seeing you taking care of yourself, then they are more likely to pay attention to you when you instruct them to take care of themselves. Building in a commitment to a self-care routine in your life requires us to move beyond the entitlement of excuses that prevent us from making the wellbeing of our own souls a priority.

Just being honest, most parents who are struggling with their teenager (who isn’t) are also dealing with their own mental health issues because a teenager that is acting out impacts the mental health and well being of a family system. If this is the case, a parent might want to consider discussing their concerns with the family doctor. I know a wise psychiatrist who was very vocal about encouraging parents to push their doctors to do primary care, because mental health is part of primary care. Your primary care doctor might have some ideas to help you strategize about what steps to take. I have a coworker friend who informed me the other day that her doctor’s first “go to is are you meditating”, and has a chakra chart in their office. This doesn’t glorify the medical model. It just recognizes that our healthcare system is a support system, albeit not without its limitations. It is an embarrassment that the US does not have a universal single payer health care system yet (including mental health and substance abuse/addiction treatment). But to quote Bernie Sanders, “that’s a different conversation entirely.” However, by bringing up your concerns with your doctor, you become a catalyst for change, and a good role model for it. Also, as a parent/caregiver, perhaps accessing your own counseling or a family therapist is the prescription you need to take back your hearth. Let’s face facts here – you get an oil change for your car, don’t you? As a human being, shouldn’t you get at least the same level of care as a machine?

Furthermore, the point is that you are not alone, and it does take a village because the power of the community matters. But the parents should be calling the shots, not the other way around. Youth empowerment and child rights are about our youth finding and having their voice. But our youth still need the guidance of trusted adults to show them the way. When a child runs the show and has too much power, that’s scary for them and they can’t handle it. When adults are scared, that’s scary for kids. And given the times we are living in, coupled with the pandemic, that’s a common denominator for all of us to be sensitive to and appreciate nonetheless. Meditation helps you sit with what is in less reactionary ways to what is going on around you.

For example, a parent can be a good role model by being humble and vulnerable by reaching out to a teacher, school social worker or school counselor and starting a conversation about their concerns. At the Middle School I work at, we have a multidisciplinary team that consists of our building Principals, School Resource Officer, School Counselors, Nurse, Social Worker, and other supportive staff in our building. Our job is to discuss the students that are surfacing as the most vulnerable, which typically stems from issues going on outside of school, and typically within their family systems. Our collaborative work together comes from a trauma-informed, positive behavioral/restorative justice oriented lens. Our Civil Rights Team Co-Advisors facilitated a “Diversity in Unity” conversation at our last monthly staff meeting. It isn’t easy work, but having a multidisciplinary team that affords a sacred space for group process is a helpful constellation to any organizational structure.

Moreover, these days, we are living the turbulent 60s on steroids, for better and for worse. A lot of good came from that time, opening up consciousness, examining racial, gender, sexual identity, and class disparities and equity. But we didn’t finish the job, and there is work to be done. You can run but you can’t hide. Nowadays, things are so divided. On the one hand, you have parents that want to rule the roost, and have their children obey their command. On the other side of the coin, there are parents that buy into the anything goes mentality without question, and overly rely on the child’s perspective. There’s more than one reality. Keep in mind the one of the “Qs” in the LGBTQ + movement is “questioning”, as in it is in our right as adults to also question what we don’t understand, and question our children about what they understand about themselves and their world. This is a key dynamic in youth empowerment. The + sign means that diversity in unity is about us respecting and honoring our difference but at the same time, seeing that we are all cut from the same cloth. There is always a ripple effect, and the parent/child interaction is a mutually influential process of interaction and learning.

Looking back on the past 15 years of working primarily in the Middle School level (Preschool-High School experience) with students in the 6-8th grades, what a long, strange trip it’s been. This time in human development is differently unique, and I’m not just talking about the kids. As a social worker in schools, we have a unique lens that is a minority perspective. We generally view ourselves as educators in a different light, and we see learning that way too. For us, our bias is toward improving systemic, and equal access to resources in mental health, wellness, and social emotional learning. We tend to think about systemic problems in our work, and ponder what we might do to affect change on that level. It’s what our line calls “mezzo” social work, a unique hybrid of “macro” and “micro” practice. Our practice includes direct clinical work, we do some case management, and work with other systems of care, including getting on various committees with a keen eye on political activism, as it is part of our code of ethics to advocate for the poor, oppressed, and other vulnerable and disenfranchised populations. Most of us have a background in trauma, so we tend to notice how the adults in the lives of our population reflect what our students are acting out. Some of the adults are more awake and aware of these nuances and see themselves as part of the solution, or at least wanting to be. Others don’t and seem to want to keep the blinders on or bury their heads in the sand. And then there are those that expect us to wave a magic wand and fix the problem. We can make easy targets that way. We’re not good at pleasing everyone, which is OK, because that helps many of us like me that are wounded healers sober up to our disease to please, and lick our own wounds. Besides, it’s not our job to medicate people. We give a lot more thought to boundaries than other professionals, we have a sensitive understanding of power in relationships, and our idea of professional supervision is radically different from other workplaces.

Reflectively, it’s harder to be a parent and a kid today. Learning how to be human has never been easy. Yet paradoxically, in some ways, our world is far safer than back in the days of saber toothed tigers looking for food with us on the menu. Today, our evolution is more about our brain development, which is why mindfulness/meditation is probably the most important factor in the human life cycle. We need to support our capacity to co-regulate with each other so that we can learn to effectively manage ourselves so that we can function at home, school and community. If a child doesn’t feel safe at home (or school/community) then it isn’t very realistic that a healthy approach to learning will take place. All children (and adults) do better when resiliency is being appreciated, cultivated and supported. We all can benefit from learning how to make the shift from our “downstairs” brain to our “upstairs” brain or communicate from our amygdala to our prefrontal cortex. It’s when our brains get tripped up offline that we experience a system failure, if you’ll pardon the pun. As adults raising, working, and interacting with teens, our best tool in the toolbox is to be good role models. It’s hard to teach mindfulness if we don’t have our own meditation practice. As adults, this requires that we move beyond a position of entitlement. Those that are hardest to love need it the most.

Encouragingly, the kids are really eating this meditation/mindfulness stuff up. In fact, teens are at a uniquely receptive age for an advanced meditation/mindfulness practice due the stage of their brain development. Ask them about it. When I was a guest speaker at an Elementary School, it made my heart sing when a young boy stood up and said that his dad started listening to a meditation app to learn how to calm down when he was angry. In that, the boy recognized that his dad was becoming a happier person and better parent, as well as learning to have more self control. As a social worker, many of my regular students I see feel like a burden to their parents or caregivers. Some are oblivious and could care less. Others recognize their privilege, and want to be a good ally to their peers in need, even if they aren’t friends. In my Civil Rights work, it is beautiful to see our students becoming empowered, and playing a lead role in creating a more welcoming school (and community) for everyone. It’s a sign of a good coach who draws up the play, allows the quarterback to call the play, hand the ball off to the running back and let him (or her) run with the ball. They all have to trust the linemen and rest of the team to do their job if the play is going to work. Football is the epitome of teamwork and group work in action. You have to practice the fundamentals on the field and put in your time and do your homework off the field. It’s about working smarter rather than harder. But when you get knocked down, and don’t get your way, you suck it up buttercup, and get back up.

What is more, challenging behavior and addictions are not unique to teenagers, or “screenagers” as they are sometimes called, given their penchant for screen time. Talk about a normalized addiction in today’s world. It reminds me of growing up in a family of cigarette smokers during my youth, who would seemingly all light up at once at extended family gatherings, and I’m not just blowing smoke, if you’ll pardon the pun. And while marijuana might be legal in Maine today, when asked by parents/caregivers, my consultation about it hasn’t changed since when it wasn’t. Like Willie Nelson says, it’s better to stay away from substances, and tell your kids to as well. But if you are going to indulge, it’s better not to do it habitually around your kids or alone either really. Repeated exposure to wellness and making healthy choices is more likely to result in teens learning healthy lifelong routines. Probably the best medicine is to learn self-control, self-regulation, and remember to breathe consciously in the living moment. As adults, if we are focusing on positive self talk, being mindful of our breathing, picturing peaceful, calming thoughts, then we are more likely to be teaching our children how to do that. If we are treating them with dignity and respect, then they are more likely to show it to us. If teens are being defiant, struggling with paranoid thoughts, obsessions, or other deeply ingrained behavioral patterns, like gaming, smoking, drinking, drugging, cutting, bullying or other addictive behaviors, then we should respond to these issues with a restorative approach rather than punitive measures that just teach more work avoidance and apathy. In short, “tough love” is about teaching cause and effect, as gently and softly as possible. Again, as an adult in their life, you might as well start with yourself. You can’t control everything they do, but you can control how you respond to it. Yeah, there is a fear based respect that comes with ruling with an iron fist. But there is a different quality of respect from doing it Dr. King’s way.

Finally, natural and logical consequences can be powerful teachers. For example, let’s say that your teen is heavily into the party scene, and running the show at home. If you haven’t already, you could set three basic rules or guidelines that can be visually posted as a point of reference. This is a concrete strategy and takes the fight out of it. There has to be some buy-in to incentivize the game plan, which kids can usually articulate on some level. There should be consequences to when they follow the rules, and when they don’t. Kids are naturally egocentric, so there needs to be a “what’s in it for me?” to promote their motivation to do the right thing. It’s harder to notice and focus on the positive behaviors (and consequences), but that’s what’s most important. If there is a significant pattern of defiance and disrespect, then it might mean a choice between therapy, rehab or getting the police and legal system involved. Accountability is key, and learning to take responsibility for their actions is something that should not be robbed from teenagers, or you’re just asking for arrested development, if you’ll pardon the pun. Cheap for me to say, I do this well professionally but struggle personally at times, as it’s always more challenging to do this at home. It’s hard not to be entitled as a man who is a social worker at home. I’ve put in my time at work, and don’t want to come home and deal with the BS or drama, as it would be easier to just check out. But that is exactly what I am being asked to do by the Universe. So I’m not asking any of you to roll up your sleeves alone here. Grandfather used to say that he couldn’t expect his workers to do that for him if he wasn’t willing to roll up his sleeves with them. Hang in there folks. All you can do is do the best that you can. Try to become the change you want to see in the world. Sometimes, you just limp along with the rapidly or flaccidly firing neurons of the teens in your lives.

Take care of yourselves everyone,

Ari

Please feel free to check out my new podcast series by clicking on the link below:

Falling Away From Entrapment, Warding Off Negative Energies With Turkey’s Spirited Guidance & Leaving It To A Full Beaver Moon In November Classroom Mothership Earth

  1. Falling Away From Entrapment, Warding Off Negative Energies With Turkey’s Spirited Guidance & Leaving It To A Full Beaver Moon In November
  2. Spiritual Hang Gliding In October With Bat, A New Moon In Libra and a Full Hunter’s Moon
  3. September Serves Up A Hearty Spiritual Plate with A New Moon in Virgo, Autumn Equinox and a Full Harvest Moon
  4. The Return of Dragonfly And A Full Sturgeon Moon On Sunday, August 22, 2021
  5. A Snake Slithers In July And A Full Buck Moon Rises On July 23, 2021

Chakra Meditation

Falling Away From Entrapment, Warding Off Negative Energies With Turkey’s Spirited Guidance & Leaving It To A Full Beaver Moon In November Classroom Mothership Earth

  1. Falling Away From Entrapment, Warding Off Negative Energies With Turkey’s Spirited Guidance & Leaving It To A Full Beaver Moon In November
  2. Spiritual Hang Gliding In October With Bat, A New Moon In Libra and a Full Hunter’s Moon
  3. September Serves Up A Hearty Spiritual Plate with A New Moon in Virgo, Autumn Equinox and a Full Harvest Moon
  4. The Return of Dragonfly And A Full Sturgeon Moon On Sunday, August 22, 2021
  5. A Snake Slithers In July And A Full Buck Moon Rises On July 23, 2021

Refer to the chart above to get a feel for where your Chakras are located in your body so that you can visualize yourself doing this meditation effectively. It might be helpful to look at this chart and practice doing the meditation before you feel comfortable doing this meditation with your eyes closed. That’s totally up to you and your call entirely.

The 7 major Chakras are typically associated with the same 7 rays of the rainbow. While balancing each Chakra, you can visualize yourself basking in each ray of the rainbow with each corresponding Chakra (Red Root/Red Ray, etc.)

The following Chakra meditation is especially powerful, and is inspired by the Andean Shamans of the Americas. Although you can do this meditation anytime, it is especially effective to do when you wake up to start your day or before you go to sleep at night. I do this meditation everyday, usually after I wake up, as a way to start my morning meditation ritual. I also do this meditation periodically when I am alone in Nature or before I go to sleep.

When you are doing this meditation it is natural for thoughts and feelings to come up. Sometimes they might be unwanted, unpleasant or even traumatic. Try to just watch what happens without judgment, stories, clinging or fear. Be as gentle and kind on yourself as possible. Don’t try to grasp or hold on to anything you experience, push them away or throw them in the trash.

Sit comfortably in your inner royalty position, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and make a formation with your three center fingers gently pressed on your thumb like you’re holding a potato chip. Close your eyes, breathe mindfully, and let your belly sink and relax like a feather pillow. Feel your breath come into your body on your in breath, and then leave your body on our out breath.

You can say to yourself, activate spiritual light team or specify any particular guides that you would like to welcome in from the spirit realm for wellness.

Take a moment to visualize a rainbow, and see yourself basking in the energy of the rainbow. Use your imagination to feel yourself taking an energetic bath within the rainbow.

Hover your right hand over your Root Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze (like you are going #2) to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Root Chakra.

Hover your right hand over your Sacral Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Sacral Chakra.

Hover your right hand over your Solar Plexus Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Solar Plexus Chakra.

Hover your right hand over your Heart Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Heart Chakra.

Hover your right hand over your Throat Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Throat Chakra.

Hover your right hand over your Third Eye Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Third Eye Chakra.

Hover your right hand over your Crown Chakra, and move your right hand in a circular counter clockwise motion 10 times, and then squeeze to release energetically. Next, move your right hand in a clockwise motion 10 times to balance your Crown Chakra.

Congratulations! You have just balanced your 7 main Chakras.

Thank you for doing this Chakra meditation.

Ari

Aries, Breaking The Ice, Frog Hopping Off Of The Lotus Flower And A Full Pink Moon

Images Created by Aunt Barbara Merlotti

April starts out as an Aries time of year, the first sign of the Western Zodiac. Energetically speaking, there is a feeling of a new year in the air. Yesterday’s New Moon reflects that. Moreover, “New moons, which occur every 29.531 days, are about release, dissolution and beginning anew. As the first sign of the zodiac, Aries is about breaking ground, blazing trails, taking risks and venturing into often uncharted territory.” Or as soul psychotherapist Deborah El’Elia puts it, Aries “is a fiery energy that can help us know what it is that we really want to create in our lives, as well as tap into the I Am Presence!”

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring is springing, and a Full Pink Moon arrives on Monday, April 26th in most places around the planet. Many of our ancestors called this moon pink based on the vegatative spreading of the “moss pink” wildflower in North America. There are other descriptive names as well, including the Breaking Ice Moon by the Algonquin, which reflects the “increased mobility of the early spring season.” 

Frogs are waking up again, and are really making their presence known, especially the peepers and wood frogs. It’s not a coincidence that this month’s Full Moon is also named after Frog by some tribes. There is something cleansing and purifying about the mystical vibrations of Frog medicine. The stories about how their ribbet calls on April showers to bring May flowers makes sense energetically for a good spring cleaning for the soul. This is good medicine, and we really need that after a long Winter, as things have gotten pretty cold and dark there. If you think of the swampy bog areas where frogs thrive, we can visualize them hanging around lily pads. Amazingly, lotus flowers grow out of them, seemingly out of nowhere, and in spite of gnarly areas that aren’t typically perceived as beauty parlors. But what more primordial potential does a lotus flower spring from, if you’ll pardon the pun? As humans, are we not like that? Sometimes, if you want to calm your racing thoughts that are driving you crazy, try visualizing a frog, really getting in touch with its character, and assertively say to yourself, “stop!” Can you see why the Lotus Flower is such an inspirational mantra in Buddhist Psychology?

Additionally, April’s Full Moon will also be the first of two consecutive “Super Moons” in 2021. A supermoon appears slightly larger than other Full/New Moons because it occurs at the same time as its orbit is closest to the Earth. But if you want to see any Full Moon really look super, then watch any of them when they are rising or setting. May’s supermoon will also be a total lunar eclipse. 

When I reflect on Aquarius, the Vernal Equinox, Easter, and the Aries New Moon, I think about the resurrection of light, Christ Consciousness, and a New Year ahead. Remember that Aries is the first sign on the Western Zodiac. Moreover, the resurrection of this Christ Consciousness to our Planet appears to be a mystical connection to the prophecies of Indiginious People that posited that humanity was seeded by visitors from other worlds and dimensions, and would someday return. In much the way as it says in the Genesis section of the Bible, “Let us create man (humankind) in our image.” Have they ever really left? Keep in mind that Christ was an embodiment of this divine consciousness, and believed that we are all capable of this mystical vibration.

According to petemedium, from ‘A Land Down Under’, “With (US President) Biden comes Aquarius in its conception. From this month of April, we will start to see the gradual growing and establishing of, not just another liberal Presidency, but the first Presidency in this New Age.” As with any Karma, this administration has inherited what has been handed to it. Don’t expect the Establishment and the Billionaire Class to loosen its grip without resistance.

“Let the old be released now, the old ways and beliefs that keep us stuck. If you cannot believe in a new and better world, you are part of the problem. ‘They’ have won you over with their programming. They have convinced you that you are worthless if you do not get with the program. Who is ‘They’? It is the paradigm that keeps those who are entitled, entitled. They are not the enemy to be hated.”

Keep in mind that while the sunlight of yang is rising in the Northern Hemisphere, the dark nights of yin are rising in the Southern Hemisphere. Either way, the equal equinox dances of light and dark are becoming more dramatic with their oscillations again, as they break away from the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes on opposite sides of the planet. But wherever you are on the planet, the winds of the astrological Eclipse Season are blowing in, and “will unleash more exciting energies with eclipses on May 26 and June 10”, as spiritual guide, and professional astrologer Leo Knighton Tallerico reminds us.

From a multidimensional perspective, the spiritual awakening we are going through on the planet now is a transitional process from an old paradigm into a New Age. This quantum leap reflects “the doors of perception” being cleansed so that humanity has the eyes to “see things as they truly are.” The veils appear to be thinning more than usual because we are developing the spiritual eyes and ears to see and hear. The wisdom of the Tao teaches us that when we change the way we look at the world, the world literally changes the way that it looks. In that light, “people are waking up all over the country and planet! Old stories that lead to Dead Ends are ending. New stories are being opened, stories that show how Nature and the Universe are joined and are moving us forward in Evolution.”

Furthermore, when contemplating the sacred geometrical Arcturian wisdom of remembrance, consider the following positive self-talk mantra: “the energy of remembrance helps you reach your inner knowing, which is where your real strength is. We often think we are not capable of doing something or think we are not ready to do something. Realize that all strength is already inside you and that you only need to remember.”

If we are being present with the awareness of remembrance, it is clear to see that we are living in a time when we don’t need a middle man guru to tell us how to accelerate our youth in this reform school known as earth. Also, the spirit of Weasel inspires a lesson plan that amplifies the importance of receiving silent messages that come from the soul, which is akin to a higher vibrational mind to mind, or telepathic communication. Of course, we all know the background noise of anxiety driven thoughts, aka the Chattering Monkey Mind. Nothing against monkey’s, as they are our distant cousins. But as we learn to tame the “downstairs” part of our brains, the inner voice of our “upstairs” brain area, or prefrontal cortex can become more alive. We know this reality by learning how to tune into it, and discern the quiet wise mind from the distracting background noise of the reptilian brain, where the amygdala tends to get hijacked. Mindful attention to the energy of Weasel can help you with self regulation, and assist you from smoking out the smokescreen of everyday life. Meditation on Weasel can help you get in touch with your silent observer, which can help you relax your identification with your thoughts, and emotions. Once you are the observer, you realize you are not your thoughts or emotions, and that is a very freeing experience.

What’s more, while listening to a podcast recently, these lyrics resonated about why we humans forget to give each other unconditional love: “We miss small moments that are grand ones” because being human on the planet today is like “being on a hamster wheel.” The trick is that we need to get in touch with our inner child, and remember what it was like to be a soul before we became more adult like in our personality development. From that place, we are more equipped to come from a clean place of love.

Looking back at the internalized oppression that I felt growing up with a parent who struggled with depression, and addiction, I can identify with what it’s like for someone who identifies as LGBTQ or BIPOC, who perhaps feels like they can’t breathe. From this position of empathy, I can understand how my experiencial feeling has a connection to a heavy feeling of suffocation. 

However, because of the way I physically looked to others, I could blend in more easily than people in minority positions that are physically differently observable. From this perspective, I was more overtly readily accepted by the dominant, popular, and mainstream culture that we were all born into. Even if I could taste the fringes, I had the privilege of growing up with Middle Class values in an American Dream that probably seemed a bit more attainable to me, even if by a bit of long shot. But not everybody does or even knows what those values or that dream is. And whether you do or do not buy into these values or dreams, they can be hard on our hearts. This can be especially true for sensitive people, and regardless of whether or not you achieve them as goals or not. 

Furthermore, a hardened heart is probably more alarming, when you think about the invited karmic “lifetime to lifetime” dharma you are working out. Perhaps you have been wise to the ways of the world, learned how to play the game, and know how to win at it. But at the end of the day, it can be a sad story, and lonely old road if all you have to show for it is fool’s gold. You can’t take those possessions with you after you die.

More importantly, remember that most of who you are today is a formless, energetic being or a soul that lives in your body that is also made up of a mind and a spirit. Contemplate when you were a soul before you incarnated into a mortal and were born on this planet. Why would you have agreed to come here, and chosen the form that you have? From a place of victim consciousness, you might say that you had no choice, that it was luck of the draw. But if you are willing to shift your mindset, and take responsibility for the cards that you were dealt, that can be very empowering. Just use your imagination to entertain this possibility and see what happens. In my experience, it relaxes a sense of victimhood, and entitlement. This mindful practice can be quite empowering and liberating. It is an honor and a privilege to see that you have chosen to come here as a spiritual being to have a human experience, whatever that experience might look like. If you are in a position of privilege, you might as well do something with your privilege to help others who do not share your position. Acknowledging your privilege, and holding a position of non-judgmental curiosity, compassion, and empathy toward someone else’s plight is the least you could do. You don’t need to make yourself feel superior or carry a wound that suffers from guilt. Both sets of baggage will just drag you down.

Finally, manifesting abundance transcends how much money you bank, or equity you build. If you read between the lines of the book The Secret, you’ll see that truth. Remember that energy is energy. It’s what you do with it that counts. Abundance isn’t really about what materials or success you accumulate, what you do or get people to do for you. Rather, on a deeper, and more meaningful level, abundance is about how you make other people feel that moves them, and inspires them to awaken their own greatness. It might come from the repeated exposure to the yinful reception of silent blessings, as well as peaceful, benign thoughts directed outward toward others, like yang does. In that light, abundance is manifested in the power of love that shines through your Being. And like the energy that Master Jedi Yoda radiates, you just do that with the invisible, yet priceless gift of your presence, and without any expectation of outcome.

May the Frog be with you,

Ari

This Land Is Your Land Revisited

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels.com

I wrote This Land Is Your Land Revisited about a decade ago. It was first published by the http://www.spiritualrenaissance.com/index.html in their old publication. As a musician, I am a late bloomer, and very much an amateur. My dream was to learn how to play the guitar, harmonica, and sing all at the same time, in a way that would breathe life into my poems. After another back injury, I decided to pick up my guitar (given to me by one of my mom’s old boyfriends), and put myself through the learning curve as a way to cope with the pain, and heal. It wasn’t easy, but I kept at it as another form of self expression, and strategy for wellness as a way of life. Also, there is an old story that says that every song originates from a folk song. This Land Is Your Land Revisited is based on the old Woodie Guthrie classic. You’ll recognize the first verse as his, and the following verses as mine. You could say that he’s part of my spiritual light team, and I find his energy inspirational.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From our Lost Wages to the stock exchange
From the cookie cutter suburbs to the water treatment plants
This land was made for my SUV.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From corporate propaganda to the Woodstock Nation
From the self-evident truths to expanded consciousness
This land was made for Liberty.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From crafty politicians to fortune telling
From intellectual constructs to intuitive understanding
This land was made for reciprocity.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From telepathic communication to respecting diversity
From free for service economies to dreaming a New Dream collectively
This land was made for Aquarian Unity.

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