Friday, January 31, 2014

Hope and Fear and Giveaways

‘Apekkha’, a Pali word meaning ‘hope’ and ‘bhaya’ is a Pali word for ‘fear’.  Both are ways of thinking that pull us away from being totally present in the moment.   Fear is a fixation on the likelihood of bad outcomes and hope is a fixation on the likelihood of good outcomes.  Neither can exist if the mind is focused on the present moment. 

Life may deliver some blows that seem to have us tumbling into a vortex where uncertainty thrives and threatens to overtake our minds. We begin to focus on  hope for something good to come or become fearful about how bad things are for us.

 But life asks us to be brave and embrace the moment, good or bad.   Life asks us to remain present and aware and have faith that there is no conspiracy against us. 

Life does not give you answers easily.  One has to dig for them.   Sometimes you need to dig in the mud and sometimes the answer lies on the surface waiting for you to reach for it.   And often we are not even sure of the questions we need to ask.

But, this I do know.  When you are low the best way to lift your spirits is to give something away.  So, for this reason, I am giving away three paintings.  All I ask is that you pay for shipping and the frame.    If you would like any of the following paintings, please send me a private message and I will let you know the framing costs and approximate shipping costs.   

The Birth Fields
mixed media on board with black frame
24" X 28.5"

Water Song
Cold wax and oil on board with black frame
14" X 14"

Blue Water
Cold wax and oil on canvas in black frame
24" X 24"

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Faith, Trust, Serendipity and Chasing Rainbows

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” —Lao Tzu

You may be wondering what these concepts have in common.   I believe that trust stems from the brain and faith from the heart and that there is a very distinct difference between the two concepts, although, we often use those words interchangeably.  In the Pali language, which is the language of the original Buddhist texts, the word ‘faith’ translates to ‘sraddha’ which literally means ‘to place the heart upon. 
Trust is inherently a component of FAITH.  However, trust does not necessarily have to have a component of faith.   When one has FAITH in something or someone, they have complete trust or confidence in that particular something or someone.  To trust means you have confidence in the reliability of something or someone.  For instance, I know and trust that I cannot see a rainbow without rain.  I trust this fact through observation.   From past experience I see that every time I see a rainbow, there is rain…..the rain is a reliable factor in the formation of the rainbow.  However, there are many other components that have to come together to make a rainbow; more than just the rain.  I may not see a rainbow for many weeks, months or even years.  However, I have faith that, when all the components are aligned, it will once again happen.  I do not necessarily need to understand all the other components, but I have FAITH that they will align and I will see another rainbow at some point.

Faith is what allows us to function without really understanding how and why.   We just know what IS.  When we have faith in the dharma, we have faith that the universe is not conspiring against us, but conspiring on our behalf.  Faith is the ability to trust something from the very core of our being. When we are bound together by trust that touches the deepest aspects of who we are… we are living in FAITH. 

Faith gives us the strength to endure hardships with the knowledge that our efforts will produce a positive outcome.   In the absence of certainty, trust assumes that truth and fairness will prevail.

What most of us look for in life is a pattern of repeatable thoughts and actions that will direct us toward a desired outcome.   Then how does one explain those serendipitous moments that do not seem to fit in to the pattern?   I mean those moments that magically and unexpectedly appear to light the way to a desired outcome.   

Setting things in motion is the reliable factor, like the rain is the reliable factor in the formation of a rainbow.   Serendipity is that component that is not understood or known.   However, when that serendipitous moment happens we have an overwhelming sense of oneness with all that is.  We may not understand it, nor can we explain it…..we just know it IS.  We have faith in what IS.   There is no push and no pull, simply a flow that is undeniable.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Letting Go of Struggle

During the last few months I have felt like I was renting someone else’s body.   I know this because if I was in my own body, I would not have a butterfly mind.  I would be focused.    I would be able to sit in meditation for more than five minutes.  I would be able to concentrate on a project for more than five minutes.  I would paint because that is my voice.   And that voice has been silent.

It is more than just not being inspired.  Inspiration surrounds me and I take note.  But I had entered a downward vortex of self doubt and struggle.  I had lost the ability to trust in the process.

In order to trust the process wholly and completely we do not need to know what is unfolding or why.  We simply need to be in the present moment to experience it.   It is not until you are totally exposed and vulnerable, that you are forced to live and breathe that moment of struggle with a profound level of trust and know that, without doubt, your struggle will end.

 I am reminded of this quote by Ray Bradbury, "Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You've got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it."   

Monday, January 20, 2014

Return to the Rabbit Hole and Quantum Wierdness

 A core belief is the lens through which we view our world.  A core belief is quite often hidden from our awareness deep within our subconscious.   For instance I may have the belief that I am not good enough and therefore the work I do is not good enough.   The beliefs we have about our place in the world are clouded with strong emotions.  In order to change a belief from a negative one into a positive one, we have to visit the emotion associated with the belief.  So, you are thinking we just need to come up with a succinct affirmation and repeat it daily and the magic happens.   Maybe so.   If you are a person with a strong sense of self and high self-esteem, it just may work.  But, you say, I am not that person.  I believe that I am not good enough.  Repeating a positive self-statement most often will backfire for the very people who need them most.   Canadian researcher, Dr. Joanne Wood at the University of Waterloo recently published this same conclusion in her research.  You may repeat the same positive affirmation without fail daily and if you do not firmly believe you are truly worthy of this positive outcome, you will continue to reinforce the undesirable core belief. 

Change is instantaneous.  It takes no longer than a fleeting thought, in which you truly believe to be true, to change how you view yourself and your circumstances.    Every thought we think, every word we speak is creating our circumstance.   If we desire change we have to first become mindful of how we are contributing to, and giving power to, our core beliefs.   We must carefully monitor every thought we think and every word we speak aloud.   If these thoughts and words do not support the change we desire, change it.   Be mindful of the emotion associated with the thought.  Ask yourself; ‘How does it feel when I speak like this, or think like this.’  Feel the emotion.  Do not bury it again.  Once felt, let it go.  It no longer serves you. Core belief thoughts are stubborn and letting it go may take much effort.   If it feels anything less than good, then change the thought.    If it feels good, then the thought or spoken word is feeding your authentic self.  

Take ownership and responsibility for your thoughts.   Understand that you control your thoughts and do not allow them to control you because they are not a part of your true nature.  Your true nature, personality and character is what you choose to make it. 

So let’s return to the thought ‘I am not good enough so therefore the work I do is not good enough’.  One circumstance that may have fed this thought is that you are not selling your art.  From this we attach the ‘I’ to the equation and reflect that I am not good enough.   More fodder may come in the form of a statement by someone such as; ‘I see that you paint but what do you do for a REAL job’.  From this, we come away feeling that what we do does not matter to the ‘tribe’.  And since we inherently want to belong to the tribe, we come away feeling betrayed by what we do.   If this happens –and I am sure it has happened to you- we need to remember the words of Brene Brown: “Your critics are not the ones who count”.   Remember your tribe is made up of many characters.  Surround yourself with those who feed your soul and support your efforts and remember:

  • ·         Thoughts are things
  • ·         You are not your thoughts
  • ·         You are not your emotions
  • ·         Thoughts and emotions come and go of their own accord
  • ·         You are a soul inhabiting a body and experiencing thoughts and emotions
  • ·         Cultivate a non- judgmental awareness by being mindful
  • ·         You are the space in which thoughts and emotions arise
  • ·         Cultivate the space between the thoughts, that is, the ‘primary consciousness’ that underlies all thinking. (It is that "space between the notes," said Claude Debussy "that makes the music." If there were no spaces between the notes on a sheet of music, the sounds you would hear would not only be unintelligible but meaningless, even annoying.
  • ·         Change is instantaneous
  • ·         Slow down and everything you are chasing will catch up to you

Inspiration is just a thought away.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Coming Out of the Rabbit Hole

Coming Out of the Rabbit Hole
by Sharon Barfoot
  Your life becomes what you have imagined and believed in most. When I was a teen I recall having a conversation with a friend and stating that the most powerful thing in the world is 'a thought'. I had no idea of the science behind this, I just knew it to be true.  Then I went on for the next three decades allowing life to live me and not truly understanding that my unconscious thoughts were guiding the direction in which my life was taking.    Oh, it wasn’t all bad.  There were fleeting moments of bliss but they were just that; fleeting.   These moments of bliss seemed to be more frequent when I entered into deep meditation.   Meditation brought me to a deep awareness of the reality of things.   ‘Reality’ being an often misunderstood word.  You may, at this point, declare that you clearly know the nature of reality.  Reality being something that is tangible, quantifiable and observable.

To understand reality we must venture in to the world of quantum weirdness.    According to ‘quantum weirdness’, reality is an illusion.  What appears to be tangible only becomes real when observed or experienced by the observer.   Until observed it remains within the realm of possibilities.  That is a powerful statement for me.  At one time, it was thought that we were nothing more than passive observers in the reality of our world.  It was thought that fate is the predetermined reality of our experience.   Are we actually living a scripted life or are we the author of the script? So, is there such a thing as free will or does fate govern what will occur in our lives? I can only answer this from my perspective.  

The way I see it in very unscientific terms, is that there are things that I am supposed to do while living this life on this planet.   I was born into a particular place, time and culture with a specific purpose.  I call this fate.  I envision my life as road map with many crossroads. The map represents my circumstance; where I was born, my parents and family, my culture and my purpose.   I think of the crossroads as markers along my life path.  When I come to a crossroad, I can choose in which direction I want to go. This is where free will enters.

    My subconscious belief system will act as a guide as to what path to take.  The signposts represent all the events in my life that build this belief system.  Based on my belief system I have the free will to make a choice on which road to follow.  If the choice I make takes me down a road that does not feed my true purpose, then those moments of bliss I referred to earlier will not occur.  In other words……shit happens.  This opens the question of how we make those life choices that will take us down the ‘bliss trail’.  Once I come to a crossroad the realm of possibility is open for me.   This is where our ego mind enters; the all-powerful thought.  Both roads exist, in that quantum weirdness kind of place, where all possibilities exist simultaneously.  Both possibilities exist and only become my reality when I make the choice.

Ego mind is a fierce warrior.  Once we have a belief system firmly established in our subconscious, ego mind resolves to make it so.   So let’s say one of my core beliefs is that I am not worthy of success.  Remember, these beliefs may be so far hidden in your subconscious that you do not even realize you have them.  So, I have made an agreement that I am not worthy of success, however you wish to define that obscure word.  Once I reach that fork in the road that leads to success, I now have a choice on which path to take.  My ego mind jumps in to remind me that I am not worthy (because I have made an agreement about worthiness with myself) and I will choose that road that leads to non-success.  Along the way I will see markers that add credence to my agreement.   Our core belief has taken us on the road away from bliss.   In order to reprogram our core beliefs we need to first identify them.  Identifying a core belief is like solving a mystery of the illusions in your mind.      

In order to identify our core beliefs we have to look beyond our thoughts.  We have to look at the emotion associated with the thought.  It is the emotion behind the thought that gives it strength or power. 

I will talk about identifying core beliefs and what that has to do with being an artist next week.