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:

A Snake Slithers In July And A Full Buck Moon Rises On July 23, 2021 Classroom Mothership Earth

  1. A Snake Slithers In July And A Full Buck Moon Rises On July 23, 2021
  2. An Inner Independence Day Revisited
  3. Eclipsed by Butterfly & A Strawberry Full Moon
  4. Multidimensional Mental Health, Wellness and Everyday Happiness as a Way of Life
  5. Swimming With The Grace Of Swan, and A Full Flower Moon.

Chakra Meditation

A Snake Slithers In July And A Full Buck Moon Rises On July 23, 2021 Classroom Mothership Earth

  1. A Snake Slithers In July And A Full Buck Moon Rises On July 23, 2021
  2. An Inner Independence Day Revisited
  3. Eclipsed by Butterfly & A Strawberry Full Moon
  4. Multidimensional Mental Health, Wellness and Everyday Happiness as a Way of Life
  5. Swimming With The Grace Of Swan, and A Full Flower Moon.

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

The Spring Equinox, Big Night & A Full Worm Moon

Artwork Created by Aunt Barbara Merlotti

Here on the ground, the arriving Spring Equinox on March 20th means that more robins are around, singing melodious songs about the early bird getting the worm. A Full Worm Moon, also called the Sugar Moon by the Ojibwe, takes place on March 28th. The Ojibwe name was inspired by the time of year when the sap of sugar maples starts to flow. Of course there are other names for this Full Moon as well. Moreover, in Northern New England on Big Night, the salamanders, wood frogs, and peepers are driven to make their sensuous journey to find vernal pools to procreate, and embody being good role models for sustainable living on our Planet. We can do our part by respecting their natural intelligence, and way of life. How do they manage to muddle along, in spite of overcoming incredible obstacles, such as scary predators, and paved roads full of human traffic? How do they do this without any guidebooks, lesson plans, compasses or maps to show them the way? Talk about taking back the night.

Remember in last month’s blog that we discussed coregulation, which in part just means the process of learning to harmonize with each other, and our environment. We become more equipped to do this when we are true to our core, and centered in our souls. Awakening to our soul’s purpose, and discovering our human potential is merely seeing that “the Earth is like a reform school.” Moreover, the transition we are going through is that we are getting back to our connection to each other, and our connection to our Mother Earth. What better way to honor Women’s History Month in March? In a nutshell, nurturing this connection means that we are taking care of our home, school, and community. Of course we can do this best when we are meditating and connecting with Nature consistently. But without women or Mother Earth, none of us would be here.

Additionally, in this dreamy Piceas time of year, meditation on Whale is a powerful spirit guide to tap into the heartbeat of the planet, and deepen our understanding of our empathic connections to one another. Keep in mind that whales carry the memories of our planetary consciousness. Of course we come from different pods, and have our diverse expressions. But in our multidimensional depth, we can all dive into the fluid and elusive nature of alternate realities, and who we really are. From this standpoint, it becomes easier to appreciate the wonder and beauty of the world. “Day turns into night, and back into day, the moon waxes and wanes, the seasons go through their dramatic and subtle changes. When a flower blooms and starts to fade, we accept the poignancy of that change. Even if the decay of the flower makes us sad, we can appreciate it as part of the movement of life. Imagine what it would be like if things existed in a fixed way. Wouldn’t life get boring pretty fast?”

Cosmically, sacred geometrical Arcturian wisdom reflects that the vibration of integration asserts that “the energy of integration helps you apply new truths in your daily life. The energy makes you aware that you are responsible for your own actions.” Moreover, the dimensional shift we are discussing here mirrors our movement into a New Age and Paradigm, aka an Aquarian Age or a New Earth. You already all know that the empowered freedom we like to highlight, is followed by the attached earmark of responsibility. But you don’t have to look at responsibility as a virus feeding off of its host of freedom. Same thing with taxes. If you’re making enough money to complain about how much you’re paying in taxes, then you might want to examine what’s underneath your disgruntlement. But try to remember to be gentle on yourself about it, and not too taxing in your self reflection, if you’ll kindly pardon the pun. Besides, alternative energy starts with you, just as it starts with me. Do you see?

Perceptually, marinate on the increasing phenomena of ETs or multidimensional beings as analogous to when our ancestors started to experience the arrival of Europeans in “Longer Boats.” For example, it wasn’t until a trusted Shaman or Wise Elder was able to integrate the reality of these crafts into their perception that they could report back their findings to the tribe. And then medicine people could share their visions so that the clans people could begin to see the reality of their new vision. Aborigines initially thought white people were ghosts from the Dreamtime, which to be dead serious, is both true and not true.

In much the same way as back Zen, the experiences right Tao are not all good or bad. Try to see these experiences as part of our collective, universal evolution. In that light, it is important to see the silver lining, and focus on making positive interpretations. This New Age of Diversity in Unity means that all voices matter, and that we should honor our differences. We all have different talents, and strengths. But that doesn’t mean that we have to go to war with each other or fight to make certain talents or strengths more or less valuable to the greater whole. That’s why cults and fascism are easy and seductive paths to the dark side, if we don’t do our own shadow work. Shining the spotlight on “power to the people” features the Divine Light of our better angels. The democratic process can get messy at times. But in the long run, a longitudinal and patient pace is preferable to the quick fix, and short term profits. It’s hard to go wrong with a diversified portfolio that supports the greening of the planet. BIPOC, LGBTQ, Super Pac supporters, and people who identify as “young conservatives” can all agree to disagree perhaps on their apparant divergent heritage or political differences without arguing or fighting with each other or taking their points of contention personally.

Furthermore, give consideration that the reported close encounters with ETs or multidimensional beings is a vibrational shift of them “slowing their vibration down” in a way or framework that makes sense to our brain consciousness.  Reflect back to February 25th’s blog entry about coregulation. A simple shift in perspective allows for a co regulatory opportunity that we can meet together in collective consciousness, from a place of curiosity and empathy. These entities meet us where we are at, and we can meet them where they are at. When we step into our fears with courage, we can use the power of our visualization to build up “multidimensional immunity.” We can also see ourselves as protected by a “vibrational vaccine,” as a way to empower ourselves during this pandemic, and the Climate Change that we are weathering on the planet right now. Or you could just literally shake out any trauma or fears that you experience, like many animals do naturally. It is amazing what a powerful release this simple strategy can have on your mind-body-spirit. That’s why martial arts, dancing, movement, exercise, yoga, taichi, and qigong can be effective wellness practices for good mental health. Of course there is no replacement for good therapy for personal/spiritual growth. I mean, you get your oil changed for your car, right? Just sayin’.

Finally, we hear a lot about the Growth Mindset in education these days. Similarly, we have heard good and plenty about the decay that mental rigidity and fixed ideas do to our well being. Growth Mindset involves developing inner resilience as an opportunity for learning and growth. A Growth Mindset framework allows for a developmental, life cycle approach to learning. Rather than striving for perfection, it is understood that imperfections are just examples of mastery in brilliant disguises that just haven’t happened yet. Sometimes, growing up is one step up, and two steps back. But paradoxically, see those masteries as already happening, and on their way. This requires an agreement of letting go of control, being open to trust, as well as having an open, passive attitude about learning something new. Given my strong, oppositional streak, and built in anger, this has been a challenging life cycle issue for me to relax on, lean into, and embrace. Systemically, being vulnerable, fostering inclusivity and belonging are part of the cultural paradigm shift that needs to take root in the matrix that we are mixing it up in together. It comes from a synergistic bottom up, and top down fluidity, where we are all working together, in the spirit of common language, and win-win politics.

Take care of yourselves everyone,

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.

Photo by Wouter de Jong on Pexels.com

Inner Peace, Coregulation, Turtles, And A Full Snow Moon.

Images Created by Aunt Barbara Merlotti

A Full Snow Moon arrives on February 27th, and welcomes back ancestral traditions of honoring this Moon for representing peak snowfall accumulation. If rocks are part of your spiritual path, it’s a good time to let them rest and recharge underneath this Full Moon so that you can recalibrate them in your sacred meditation space. We all need to rest, especially with the cultural war raging on, coupled with the slow melt of the pandemic. It isn’t just the school community I work in that is hitting the wall during these hard times. And the lingering shadows of Old Man Winter are nothing to sneeze at either, if you’ll pardon the puns. But visions of Vernal Equinox, and Big Night, when the salamanders make their romantic midnight run to get it on, dance sensuously in our hearts and heads. How do tiny salamanders make it to far reaching vernal pools against all odds? Indeed, they have great forces of Nature, and lurking predators to contend with. Maintaining perspective is a key dynamic to happiness as a way of life. Patience in communication with each other is critical to that. Building bridges of understanding in our connections with one another will support positive development in human relationships.

Switching horses for a moment, when I think of turtles, I think of survivors. Turtles have been around longer than humans, and have even left dinosaurs in the dust. If you’re anything like the rest of the planet and me, then you could probably stand to meditate on the virtue of patience. Whenever I feel like I’m pushing the river or running the hurry up offense unnecessarily, I try to remember to keep my wits about me by visualizing a turtle to help ground me to the Earth. If only I can catch the wave of a mindful moment to swim with the current by allowing what is to happen, rather than striving to make it happen. Easier said than done. In my younger days, the spirit of Rabbit dominated my energy field over Turtle, as I was almost always on the hop. Who would I be without the charge of my hypervigalant nervous woodland creature energy? Suffering from young man’s disease means that you see faster as better, and competative worrying as a strength. But as my years of living on the planet advance, I feel more connected to Turtle’s spiritual therapy these days.

Furthermore, it is wise to realize that happiness doesn’t mean that we are above or below the tones of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings. If you are paying purposeful attention to your feelings, then you’ll notice that most of them don’t last more than 15 to 30 seconds. Indeed, they are like a river. So, what’s with all the sensational headliners? Is this suffering really an outrage or will this too so shall pass? Not to project my anthropomorphism onto Turtle, but I do believe their spirits will just watch without any judgment or clinging to any primary feelings or secondary emotions that might arise in its wake. Pretty sure Turtle wouldn’t get seduced into a partisan Congressional quagmired debate. No dark earmarks, bloated military industrial complex budget, Qanon or Trumpamania either. Perhaps more likely, we might entertain a peaceful, and non-violent act of civil disobedience. But melting the ice I don’t think so. This doesn’t mean turtles aren’t fierce or that they’re wimpy. They’ll let you know when they’re angry, and are good teachers on knowing when to retreat into your shadowy shell or let your head out into the sun for some vitamin d. 

More importantly, revolutionary spirit is in the air as we move in a New Aquarian Age. But what old ways still have meaning in this New Earth we are transitioning in together? Cocreating Heaven on Earth means that we are getting in touch with the better angels of our Higher Selves to support our universal connection to one another during our shared coexistence on Mother Earth. Diversity in Unity means that we are all connected. Like may attract like, but remember that even opposites attract because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. All voices matter so that we can honor our differences, and also be true to our oneness. Clearly, there are old patterns and wounds that we still need to release and heal before we can really move forward. Part of that healing is to hear that the attraction to Trump is “a belief that government should not run our lives, and limit our freedoms.” And while I can appreciate the sentiment, he is part of the problem, not the solution. BIPOC and LGBTQ + are not a threat to humanity, but rather weave an integral part of our collective inner tapestry.

For example, take a look at Bernie Sanders as an embodiment of revolutionary spirit, and of working Turtle energy in the positive. Now that’s an elderly white man of privilege that will give you the shirt off his back. All people like him are saying is that capitalism, socialism, and the democratic process can all coexist equally.  “The spiritual war that we have in our world right now wants us to cling to these fearful stories, take sides, and blame someone for our pain. We have to remember our togetherness and really what unites us which is our spirit. Our spirit is made of all of the same Divine Light.” Letting go of the Military-Industrial Complex’s concentration of power in our lives is breaking down, and we can see that through the eyes of disorder in our world. There is no one size fits all T-shirt folks. Don’t be tricked into believing that fixed ideas and attachments to them are not the real natural disasters and war drums that divide and conquer us. There is enough, and we can all win. It is unconstitutional not to level the playing field by promoting the general welfare of the public. But isn’t that obvious?

Looking back, we have discussed the growing body of evidence that supports the existence of the UFOs, extraterrestrials, multidimensional beings, etc. But keep in mind, there are many historical reports of these phenomena that existed prior to the Roswell incident back in July, 1947. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci was reportedly visited by “light beings”, and  Michelangelo, Christopher Columbus, and Nostradomus reportedly saw some sort of UFO or otherwise unexplained apparent aerial phenomena that shifted their consciousness back then. Also, there are many culturally accepted stories by Indiginous people about “sky people” that trace lineage connections to humankind. Here in America, “multiple states” reported sightings in the 1800s. In his book Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters (1999), the late Dr. John E. Mack, who was a Harvard psychiatrist, and department chair, came out for his support of his clients that claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Dr. Mack believed that his clients had experienced something real that was traumatic, perhaps that their souls had really been abducted. However, it was unclear whether this experience was physical or more multidimensional in nature. A trauma informed lens would appreciate the meaningful reality of what they went through that had lead to transformational experiences in their consciousness. What is it that we need to revisit in our consciousness? What more do we have to learn about the truth of this phenomena as the Pentagon continues to relax its guarded secrecy, and disclose the information that it has been hiding from us?

Additionally, during this “dreamy” Pisces time of year, it is a time to “let go, surrender . . . (and) connect to our oneness, own spiritual path, mystical side of life, (and) reorder the sacredness of life.” It is within the elemental forces now to examine an old part of yourself that needs to die so that you can be reborn. During this process, we are invited to face our fears, and explore what is hiding in the shadows of our unconscious so that we can “bring love to it.” Meditation on Venus’ rising tide evokes passages through a death/rebirth cycle of inner transformation that reflects an out with the old, in with the new perspective that mirrors springtime. Many moons ago, I remember an old friend saying that she “got depressed” around springtime. This makes sense because it is natural to grieve the loss associated with the death of the old self. You might not even like Winter, but even so it can be hard to say goodbye to yesterday. Remember that we are part of Nature, not separate from Her, nor Her seasons. But the sun of Father Sky still rises to lighten our spirits, and the Moon still shines on and moves the tides. As humans, we are mostly water, which is a conductor of sound frequency, which Whale is deeply aligned with. “We are assisting mother Gaia (Earth) in giving birth. She has been waiting for us, patiently. Her water has broken and we are gathered ’round to assist her in any and every way possible. She doesn’t ask that we prepare in any way. She simply asks us to show up and assist her to remain calm and trust that all will go well in her delivery process. The cataclysmic occurrences on the planet as of recent have simply been Gaia’s very intense labor contractions. She needs us now, more than ever.”

Finally, according to the sacred geometrical Arcturian wisdom, “The energy of frequency helps you remain within your own energy. Quite often we conform ourselves to others, thus raising or lowering ourselves to a frequency that isn’t ours. By proclaiming your truth with love, you will start processes that may influence others. More unity will be visible!” Moreover, inner peace is about a vibrational-dimensional shift that takes place from the inside out. That being said, a trauma-informed/mental health oriented term that is gaining popularity in schools today is called coregulation. When you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, anyway you shapeshift, coregulation is when we are able to influence each other in ways that supports empathic heartfelt connections with each other.

In conclusion, you’ve all heard the old saying, misery loves company. That’s why sympathy cards and gossip generate so much attraction. But generally speaking, neither does much by way of co regulation or helping anybody. There isn’t anything wrong with holding a sympathetic perspective toward someone or indulging in a little news gossip once in a while. There can be an element of catharsis to commiserating with a fellow coworker, peer, friend or family member from time to time. But just know that it doesn’t serve anyone’s well being when it becomes habitual, and ingrained in your everyday life. If anything, this pandemic has taken away the IV drip from the gossip and sympathy addicts. What have been their replacement strategies? While that remains a mystery, a 6th greader I know took my advice and has gone on a news fast, and has reported a significant decrease in his anxiety and paranoid thoughts. Also, I know many people who have started meditating, wearing items of power like crystal necklaces or other spiritual trinkets, playing around with smudging themselves or giving themselves energy baths with essential oils, or playing with chimes, singing bowls or utilizing meditation/mindfulness apps on their phones. These are all gadgets that help you make a dimensional-vibrational shift into inner peace, or become more adept at empathic coregulation. You can always become an agent of change by starting with yourself. Or you could just march to the beat of your own hum.

Take care of yourselves everyone,

Ari

The Rat Bows to the Chinese New Year of the Ox

Artwork Created by Aunt Barbara Merlotti

Have you ever heard the meme singing like black crows to the following lyrical everyday magical tune: it is easier to fool someone than it is to convince them that they have been fooled? This conversational nuance sprung up in communication with coworker teacher friends recently. Following that, I reflected on the spiritual therapy of Coyote energy, regarding its trickster elemental, and the medicinal alchemy of balancing wisdom and folly that we have referenced in past blog entries. How will our Grandchildren look at the Good Old Boy network of greedy governmental narcissism, the elitist entitlement of the Trump presidency, and subsequent mob’s violent stormtrooping of The Capitol in Washington, D.C.? It’s hard not to be reminded of Obi Wan Kenobi’s Jedi wit, “who’s more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?” The next several years will not be easy. But I do believe that we will rise out of these ashes like a Phoenix, by bringing more balance to the Force.

Personally, the above dynamic is particularly challenging when in the company of others, as I have a strong, single minded streak, and have relied heavily on my gut instincts in life. While being single minded, and self deterministic can be a sound survival skill, and good strategy for living at times, it can also be a curse. Being overly single minded, and self deterministic can come across as entitled, and too selfish to other people. When reflecting on the reality of this perspective, I am reminded of working with the New Age of Aquarius in a balanced way. Like the Wolf Government, the politics of Aquarius dances with balancing individualism with collective group consciousness. How do we balance the needs of nurturing our individual souls with the needs of the collective souls? It’s not an exact science or fixed destination, but more of an unfolding process.

Additionally, there is the street credibility of giving respect to others when respect is shown to you. In much the same way as we see in the old world classic series Game of Thrones, respect is earned, and based on a strict adherence to rituals, rules, and edicts. But a deeper quality of respect does exist, if we only allow for it. When journeying into this dimension, we are invited to dig a little deeper to access this truth, which arrives intuitively from the Dreamtime. For example, a fellow spiritual traveler echoed this awareness by asserting, “the Wabanaki notion of respect is unconditional. It lives inside of me, and the more I become aware of that, then I naturally respect others.” Thankfully, we have spiritual teachers that have lived on this planet before, as well as those that are living on the planet today that are good role models for us. We can emulate them so that we can awaken these truths within so that they become self evident. The more of us that are awakening to this dimension of respect, the more it is becoming a shared experience. Check out this short video that further captures the sentiment at Indian Island Penobscot Nation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pB1Y-s4UoNilF-zq0ETXzFv1tez2WEQs/view

Contextually, when watching the current events of your own life, are you finding yourself untangling from a complex web of your old self, past experiences, awakening to new beginnings, budding energies stirring within, and itching to spring forth out into the sunlight? That would make sense, as Mercury is in retrograde right now till February 20th. Keep in mind that Thursday is a New Moon, and Friday, February 12th is the Chinese-Lunar New Year of the Ox. Spring is on its way, and happening right now, energetically speaking. As we have discussed in earlier blogs, Ox symbolizes humility, hard work, and emotional regulation. What is more, their energies are good reminders that it is important that everyone be allowed to contribute in group work. Sometimes, it is good to stay in your lane, and trust that others will do their part. This process also invites us to be mindful of letting go, and surrendering to the will of the Universe. I can hear an old football friend’s wit, “There is no ‘I’ in the team, but there is a ‘me’“.

More importantly, Chinese Astrology tells a story about when the Buddha summoned all the animals to establish an orderly sequence to the Chinese Zodiac. Moreover, “in the race, the Ox would have taken the honor taking first place had it not been for the clever and cunning Rat, who rode the back of the Ox and jumped forward at the finish line to steal away the top award.” Given that rats are very shrewd, coupled with an apparant zeal for competition, their connection to the term rat race seems apropos. I hardly think it’s a coincidence, given that behaviorist psychology gained social science credence from the results yielded by studying laboratory rats in scientific experiments. The capitalist/socialist system that we live in today mirrors that science.

Furthermore, when exploring the inner realm of meditative spaciousness, consider contemplating the Sacred Geometric Arcturian wisdom regarding balance: “The energy of balance helps you recognize yourself. If you are true to your feelings, if you recognize your own truth, nothing will be able to disturb your balance.” Reportedly, some of these Arcturian inspired, and recommended assertive I-messages are to say, “I release all thought programs that no longer serve me” and “clear out (toxic habituated) thought programs.” These are examples of how we can shift the spotlight of our purposeful attention from negative self talk to positive self talk. We can do this by embracing the Chattering Monkey Mind, rather than trying to push it away or throw it in the trash. Moreover, meditation on the spirit of Bear reinforces the power of respecting your own personal authority, and the boundaries of self in relationship with others. Set your intention to the Dream Lodge, and ask for safe travels in your sleep/dream cycle. This is not always easy during our waking hours, but it is a good way to let go before a good night’s rest.

Finally, when examining balance in our daily lives, it is always important to live with intention, and try to follow those footsteps with commitment. That is the trick to play with during our daily walking meditation along the trails of life. When we are walking in the center of the circle, we need to be mindful of not getting too swayed to the right or the left. Have we ever lived in such divided times? Indeed, these are the days to remember, where we are being called to heal the illusion of Polarity Consciousness. All that means is that our Higher Selves are bringing in higher energies to illuminate the shadows of our lower selves in the underground tunnels of our subconscious minds. In this awakening New Age and Paradigm, we are transitioning into an era of Diversity in Unity. We are all created equal, but are also uniquely diverse expressions of Spirit. And yet we are all part of Oneness. The Rainbow of Children under the Sun and the Moon that we all are. The Middle School Civil Rights Students I work with get that concept. Or like Mr. Miyagi captured in the classic film The Karate Kid so simply, “different, but same.”

Take care of yourselves everyone,

Ari