Monday, June 15, 2015

Stories within Stories

It is with joy and great pleasure that I release my song "Stories within Stories".  I wrote this song in 2011, began recording it, put it on hold while I dealt with various life challenges, continued to tweak it and, a couple of weeks ago, declared it done.

This song flowed out of my encounter with The Work of Byron Katie.  I have lived with it (both the song and The Work) for the last four years.  In gratitude and love, I offer this to Katie and in support of all the efforts that many are making to see past stories and into truth.

Please connect here to my website's homepage where you can find a link to "Stories within Stories" and a link to the page with lyrics as well:

Lorna Carolyn Aites
Songs to the Divine

...blessing to all, Lorna

Friday, January 23, 2015

How Focus Changes

Note: this blog entry was begun in mid-November,2014 and sums up how it was for me to write and think about focus during such a challenging year.

I've come to realize during this year of “focusing on focus” that some part of my idea about how focus works involves me being in control of the universe. I planned to carve out the time for writing and expected that I could control not only the time, but the energy, the inspiration, and the events in my life to do this. But sometimes, we don’t have the kind of latitude for choice that can sustain the big level of focus that we have chosen for ourselves.

2014 has been full of challenges. There have been many physical challenges for me and for members of my family; we have all spent a great deal of our time dealing with them. Add to that a job and the daily demands of life and there is not a lot of time leftover to proceed with a large scale focus outside those issues.

When faced with this level of challenge, it is hard to remain energized for anything but the actions of basic survival—in this case, phone calls to support or consult with family members, medical appointments, our own follow-up to medical appointments, jobs, and the basics of daily life. My focus changed in response to all of this and became primarily a focus on physical well-being as well as giving and receiving moral and physical support.

I believe that maintaining the original focus is still important however; I might even say it is vital. We may have to let go of the larger plans we had in mind but it will help our spirits, on every level, if we can find very small actions to move our creative projects forward. We will be connecting with our own essential being when we do this, continuing to bring our gifts into the world for others to enjoy and find support in.  We will be able to keep a thread of continuity going through our lives so that when we have fewer challenges and more time and energy for the focus, it will be alive and well and ready to go.

Monday, October 20, 2014

How Dreams Can Help Us

I lay in bed this morning thinking about the dream that woke me. At first I couldn’t understand what it meant. In the dream, I was traveling with my husband and, for some reason, we had a tour guide with us (we never do that). She was a little obnoxious: talking incessantly, overreacting to anything I said (when I could get a word in edgewise); she was intruding on my space immensely and I wanted to get away from her.

Suddenly there was another woman with us, a tall woman bearing gifts for this tour guide. The tour guide started opening them; they were intricate gifts with many beautiful layers, and as she opened them, she tossed aside each beautiful layer to get to the next and deeper layer. The tall, beautiful woman said over and over again, “Don’t toss that aside! Look at it! Take it in!”

It is a kind of meditation to listen to a dream and seek to understand it. After a time, I began to see that the tour guide is my small self, the ego self, the mind that never ceases talking within. I have been working to move beyond that ego mind over many years and it is, indeed, hard to get away from.

The tall, beautiful woman is my higher self, my real self, the soul of me. She gives me gifts and I, in haste, pass them by unseeing. The deeper layers of the gifts will likewise be unseen because I haven’t taken the time to really absorb the gifts in previous layers.

During difficult times, our highest self brings gifts to us that we may not notice. Though they seem difficult, they are beautiful gifts, gifts that grow us, allowing us to live from our highest selves rather than our small selves. But to us they seem painful, and in our haste to get out of that pain we toss them aside, desperately seeking to escape.

If, however, we can allow them in and learn from them, we can move deeper into understanding of what is truly real within us. The pain we feel then simply becomes a pathway to our real selves. More and more, if we travel this path, accepting these gifts, we can live from that real and truest self, that deepest and highest part of our being. This dream reminds me of this; it encourages me to keep on, no matter what the difficulty.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How to Move Through Difficult Times

This year has been challenging for me in many many ways, from my physical well-being to the health of others in my family to a big change in my job and more. I’ve tried to weather this time as well as possible; to keep my spirits up, to support my dear ones, and to learn whatever lessons I can from what life is sending my way.

At times like this, I find I must pare my activities down to the essentials and then really focus on those essentials, letting go and acting from the present moment. That is a very interesting “predicament”. Everything may seem very stressful but, at the same time, I have inward permission to let go of anything that does not apply to the present moment. I’m forced to do what we are so often told is best: to center in the present moment, to let go of the past and the future, and to simply be where we Are.

I also have to see and accept that I am not in control of what is happening outside of me. I can have control over how I respond to emergencies or demanding situations, but I cannot control events or other people. This is a big work in the inner life. It demands, first, observation of my inner self, close observation. When I am about to try to control others or events, then I can ask: “Do I really need to control this? What will happen to me if I don’t control this?” and I can choose to test this out by letting go. The fearful small self continues to try to undo my active effort to let go of control, but I can watch its efforts and thereby continue to create a space between it and myself.

Throughout this process I also have to trust that everything will be alright in the larger sense.  This is always a work in progress. As I let go in small situations and interactions, I strengthen my ability to do it.  I will be more and more able to release the fearful small self’s need to control, and embrace a kind of inner freedom, beginning to see that it is o.k. to let go and be who I am rather than trying to shape events  and everyone else. 

Life challenges provide fertile ground for growth, for learning to let go, for inward change. Because these things do not always come easily, we sometimes choose to fight this process inwardly. But, if we can loosen that tendency to back away from the challenge (a futile exercise in any case) and allow ourselves to move with it, we may well come out of it stronger and more at peace with ourselves, our world, and each other. Allowing this process to flow, for me, always comes bit by bit. I have to keep working at it, one moment at a time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Focus on Love: Mady’s Song

I saw a news segment tonight about Moore, Oklahoma and the people there, well into rebuilding after a tornado devastated their town a year ago. The rebuilding reaches far deeper than buildings; they are rebuilding hearts in Moore, Oklahoma, hearts broken by the deepest kinds of loss.

One man grieved for his young daughter, grieved for the fear she must have felt as the tornado raged around her, grieved that he couldn’t get to her to relieve the fear and save her life. My heart went out to him and others like him who are trying to rebuild their hearts as they rebuild their homes.

Many years ago, a friend told a story to a group of people about her granddaughter. She was very close to her granddaughter, Mady. And this dear grandaughter died suddenly at the age of six.

Soon after her death, my friend sat for some time in Mady’s room, remembering all that they had shared. She felt Mady’s presence with her as she sat there and, picking up pen and paper, wrote what she felt coming from her granddaughter in a moment of clear communication, heart to heart.

She read the words she had written to several of us at a retreat not long after. I asked if I could write them into a song. The song is Mady’s, her words to her beloved grandmother, pure and simple. The words are the words of a six year old child, but come from a profound understanding of the deepest of living truths. With blessings, here is Mady’s song for all of us who struggle with love and loss.
Mady’s Song

 God is love, and love is you and I
God is love, and love is you and I

It’s easy, it’s easy
You just gotta love each other
It’s easy, it’s so easy
You just gotta know you’re loved

God is love, don’t worry, just be happy
God is love, don’t worry, just be happy

Love is you, and I, and everybody
Love is you, and I, and everybody

In this world, we are all together
In this world, we are all together

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Focus and Clearing

Clearing continues to be linked to focus for me. Since I wrote about clearing, my husband and I have done more clearing, sorting out possessions and emptying spaces. I feel lighter and freer.

The song I have been sitting on for a year or three was one track away from completion, at least as far as the recording goes…a very small bit of recording too. I finally just finished it, fueled by the sense of lightness opening up in my life. As I finished, as I put away the microphone, I realized that finishing recording projects is part of clearing for me, too. I have a backlog of songs written that are not recorded. I need to decide which ones I want to record and figure out a way to do that (I can’t play guitar because of carpal tunnel problems)…one song has a guitar part already recorded, and I am learning to play one of my instruments in a way that does not cause me harm…I will find a way to do this!

When I do, I think the clearing will be immense for me, and lead me places I can’t even imagine at this point. For several years, in the face of physical challenge, I have felt stuck. As I clear things and projects (sometimes just deciding that I won’t do some of them) doors will open before me. I don’t know what they will be yet, but experience tells me that they will open.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mind Seeking Drama

The steady stream of thoughts moving through the mind often seems benign. It is simply a background hum, always there and largely unnoticed. We don’t even question its presence.

When life is difficult, when we suffer, we still may not notice the mind at work, but we certainly are in its grip. Mind loves drama. It feeds on it. We are dragged willy-nilly on its quest for drama and its quest to deepen any drama that we have become entangled in.

I have been learning about this for many years and my quest has been for less internal drama, none if possible. What I have learned from teachers everywhere, past and present, is that we must observe the mind as an essential first step to detaching from the stories and dramas it so loves.

Observing the mind allows one to stand back from these stories and dramas. It gives one breathing space. The drama is caused by attachment to a thought or story that has run through the mind. This flow of thought through the mind is constant; it is nothing that we make; it simply is. When we stand back and watch we realize that we are not the drama and not the mind. The mind is a tool for us to use but it is not our essential being. It is our essential being that stands back to watch.

We have a lifetime of believing that this tool, the mind, is actually our essential self. It takes time to stand back and watch the mind in action, to begin to see the space between our essential self and this tool. It takes time to begin to see the stories we have created with the mind, the thoughts we have latched onto with the mind. It takes time to realize that these creations of the mind are not even real.

When we recognize the mind as a tool rather than our essential selves, then we can choose to train it. The observing continues, but we can add mindfulness into the process. We can choose to focus on a mantra, a prayer, an action (creating a piece of artwork or music) and we can keep bringing the mind back to this focus. Our mind becomes stronger, the tendency for it to run after drama lessens, and peace grows within us.