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The Way You Sing It

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A friend took a trip to New Orleans after Katrina. He is a jazz musician and singer. He has been most of his life, and he feels that jazz is the greatest thing that has happened in America. Playing in a club with local musicians, he was invited to join the second line of a funeral the next day, a gig that paid him $150, some food, and another chance to play the jazz he loves.

The first line in a New Orleans funeral is the mourners. They grieve, cry, and remind everyone of what is happening. The second line is the musicians. They begin the procession with a dirge, stopping at clubs and bars along the way where they are fed and given drink. As the procession continues, the dirge slowly morphs into an unabashed celebration. “It’s the same song!” he exclaimed.

My friend knows grief and mourning. I met him at a memorial jam for his son, also a musician, who died young with cancer. Musicians who had played with him over the years, and also with his son, gathered with their horns, guitars, keyboards, and drums. “Jazz is pure America,” he said. “A community of equals that keeps creating something entirely new together.” They played through the evening. Then they showed us the second line, beginning with a mournful song that ever so slowly, and then with enthusiasm, transformed into an uplifting joy that swept us all into it. How could the same sad song become a song so joyful?

Some say that life is a sad song. Others say it is joyful. I say its not the song, it’s the way you sing it.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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Occupy Wall Street – A Thousand Thanks

Occupy Wall Street – A Thousand Thanks

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A thousand thanks to the people in Liberty Plaza and places like it who are giving voice to much that is destructive and painful about our social structures and what lies beyond them. Your presence and courage and commitment are water to the great tree of awareness and freedom that will grow if it is tended carefully. Fortunately, each of us is responsible for tending it. Freedom from fear is the only freedom that now unlocks the prisons of hatred, violence, prejudice, and greed. The kindness of some police officers in NYC is on display to the world and so is the brutality of others. The greed of banks that engorge themselves on the losses of millions of people are on display around the world, and so also are the alternative social structures that will replace them. A thousand thanks are not enough for the glimpses of these emerging structures you are giving us.

You are showing us new forms of cocreation that are built on harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life and contrasting them with old forms that are built on manipulation and control. These new social structures are taking root in Liberty Plaza and places like it and in millions of us as we watch and hold the vision of a new world, a world without victims and without villains, a world where heinous policies are relentlessly uprooted and destroyed and where the people who create and execute them are not hated but constrained appropriately (think of handcuffs and bars). In short, a world of love, growing out of awareness and responsibility, consciously constructed with intentions of love, a world with the courage to experience fear fully such as anger, vengefulness, and righteousness challenge it by not acting on it, and cultivate love instead.

This new world will emerge strong and healthy from the decay of the old world not because the dying world is supported by a wealthy few while billions of us are eager for the new world. It will replace the old world because billions of us will tend the tree daily, even in difficult times, challenging hatred, anger, greed, and revenge in ourselves by choosing awareness and love instead. In short, the new world will grow strong and healthy while the old world dies because the old world is based on fear and the new world is built on love, clear, conscious, responsible, courageous, and capable.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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SOLSTICE JOY

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The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory. The death of a friend, an incapacitating illness, or a tragic loss are such times of hopelessness and despair, pain and confusion, when all bearing disappears and the void engulfs everything without mercy. These experiences are the soil in which the Universe plants the seeds of your potential for you to cultivate no matter what, and somehow you do, even in those times when you feel you have nothing left to give and no one to give it to.

Now I see more. The coming and going of the seasons give us more than the springtimes, summers, autumns, and winters of our lives. It reflects the coming and going of the circumstances of our lives like the glassy surface of a pond that shows our faces radiant with joy or contorted with pain. It also shows us our amazing independence from our circumstances. In cold or warmth, light or dark, deprivation or abundance, we can choose to respond with love or react in fear. Who could have dreamed such a choice is possible? When a child dies, we grieve and despair until we can see the change in our lives as a gift instead of a loss. Now millions of us are beginning to see the painful AND the joyful circumstances of our lives as opportunities to expand in love or contract in fear. We can experience anger, jealousy, loss, rage, or resentment without acting on it. We can act in love instead, even while we are immersed in anger, fear, jealousy, or rage. We can choose. We can cultivate care, patience, gratitude, and contentment each time we feel them. We can choose.

Each solstice shows us that we can choose. We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the Universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to Life when each arrives. We have always done that, and we always have. Now we have a new and liberating awareness. We can greet all the experiences of our lives joyfully and use them all wisely.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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OCCUPY YOUR HEART

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The Occupy movement continues to spread around the world despite beatings, arrests, evictions, and the loss of so much personal property, frequently by people who have little personal property. The energy in general, as far as I can see, is not defiant in a superior way or angry in a personal way. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said in his famous I’ve-Been-to-the-Mountain-Top speech the night before he died, There are some kinds of fire that water can’t put out. He was on fire and so was the civil rights movement in the United States with courage, clarity, and commitment unto death. Now another fire is burning. Its intent is not to consume Wall Street, but to occupy it, to make it our own, to become one with it in order to change it for the better. There is no other way to change something or someone for the better except to occupy it first. The only person you can occupy is yourself. That is why the only person who can change you for the better is you. Without your decision to change and your commitment to change, you will not change.

Religions cannot change you. If you are angry, you will become an angry Muslim or Hindu. If you are righteous, you will become a righteous Christian or Jew. No dynamic other than your own ability to distinguish within yourself between love and fear and choose love can change you, moment by moment, decision by decision. In other words, the only things standing between you and the compassionate, wise, and creative person you want to be are matters of choice. Your choice. No one can occupy your generosity except you. Who can occupy your patience when impatience roars through you? Who except you can choose not to act with judgment when all of your thoughts are judgmental? Your life is yours to live, no matter how you choose to live it. When you do not think about how you intend to live it, it lives you. When you occupy it, step into it consciously, you live it.

At its best the Occupy movement expresses this, draws from it, and creates with it. It is a movement of self-responsibility uniting countless self-responsible participants an impossibility for the mind to grasp but not for the heart. Commitment and creativity cannot be captured and handcuffed. Inspiration cannot be jailed. The heart cannot be contained. Who can occupy your heart except you? What will happen when you do?

Love.
Linda & Gary
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LOOKING BACK ON VALENTINE’S DAY

LOOKING BACK ON VALENTINE’S DAY

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Valentine’s Day – the day of roses, heart-shaped boxes, and cupids with arrows – is past, which is symbolic because the age of equating love with roses, heart-shaped boxes, and cupids is passing. In this age that is passing, we often mistook need for love. How could this be? Doesn’t love require signs of affection, shows of constancy, and gifts to seal the bargain? It never has. When someone fears losing your affection, he or she will strive to keep it. Perhaps you have strived to keep someone’s affection, too. Fear of loss is not love. When your intention is to avoid losing love, your gifts are manipulations. When it is to appreciate someone with no strings attached, they are expressions of love.

We are leaving the age in which appearances were all that mattered because they were all that we could see and entering a new age in which essence is becoming visible. The essence of a person is not the clothing she wears or the things he does. People who love do not stop loving when others change their clothing or act differently. Your essence is not even your history, culture, race, or what you think and do. It is your soul.

A few decades ago “soul” was a theological or poetic word. That is changing. You experience your soul each time you sense yourself as more than a mind and body, your life as meaningful, or you feel that you have gifts to give and you long to give them. You experience your soul when meaning, purpose, gratitude, patience, and appreciation fill you, no matter how briefly. Cultivating those experiences aligns your personality with your soul. That is creating authentic power.

Soul-to-soul connection (not appearance-to-appearance connection) is love. (That is why we call this newsletter Soul Connections.) Think of love as the sun. It shines on everyone. The sun is not afraid of losing your love, and it doesn’t even require you to smile back at it. The more we love like the sun shines, the more we become able to look back on Valentine’s Day and see it very differently.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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THE REAL DEAL

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Authentic power is the real deal. You can’t inherit it, buy it, or win it. You also can’t lose it. You don’t need to build your body, reputation, wealth, or charisma to get it. None of that can help you when it comes to creating authentic power. Anyone can become authentically powerful. Even a rock star or the President of the United States can become authentically powerful, although just being a rock star or President is no guarantee of authentic power.

The only way to become authentically powerful is to create authentic power. You cannot wish, want, or command authentic power into your life, although you can try. Wishing, wanting, and commanding don’t give you any traction when it comes to creating authentic power. Creating authentic power requires commitment, courage, and discipline that far exceed those of a professional athlete or accomplished artist. The skills that athletics and art or any other profession require are limited in usefulness to athletics, art, or the profession. The skills that are required to create authentic power can be used in every circumstance, every situation, with every person. They are 1) the ability to distinguish within yourself the difference between love and fear, and 2) choosing love all the time no matter what is happening inside you or outside you.

When the pain of anger, guilt, loss, grief, resentment, fear, jealousy or rage stab, throb, ach, and tear at you, that is the time to create authentic power by not acting on it. When chaos, dissolution, dysfunction, or violence surround you, that is the time to create authentic power by not reacting to it. You decide what you will say and do, not your internal or external circumstances. You choose to be patient when impatience roars through you, silent when you want to shout, listen when you feel compelled to speak. You choose the healthiest intentions and actions you can reach for, no matter what. Like an accomplished athlete or professional, your performances are dazzling, but only you see them. They are not to manipulate or control others, not to vanquish, gain, impress, or win the prize. They are to stand on the ground of your own sanity and humanity, no matter what. This is the real deal. Are you interested?

Love.
Linda & Gary

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LOVE AND GRAVITY

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Buckminster Fuller said, Love is metaphysical gravity. I agree. What else could it be? Without gravity you would float like an astronaut in a spacecraft. Up and down would mean nothing to you. Your slightest motion would send you tumbling head over feet or rolling controllably. If you pushed hard against a wall, you would shoot backward fast until you hit another wall. If the lights in the spacecraft went out, you would have no way at all of orienting yourself.

Without love the same thing happens. Every experience of anger, jealousy, resentment, and fear sends you spinning out of control. You have no way of knowing up from down except what your anger shows you, and it always shows you that you are right and someone else is wrong, that you are a victim and someone else is a villain. The more you act in anger, jealousy, resentment, or fear, the more painful consequences you create. You careen helplessly, spinning, rolling, hitting walls you can’t avoid and colliding with others.

Love grounds you. It orients you. Love brings your awareness to others and yourself. Love opens your mind and heart to others and yourself. Love settles you and gives you balance. When you choose to become sensitive and caring instead of frightened and selfish, your anger turns to appreciation, your jealousy to gratitude, and your resentment to caring. You cannot lose your orientation: when your deeds harm others you are in fear, and when you create harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life you are in love. The ground beneath you is always solid.

That is why mystics say that only love is real. Now we are all becoming able to see for ourselves that we are parts of a larger fabric of Life and experience for ourselves what Bucky saw so clearly: Gravity calls you to the Earth. Love calls you to Life. And they always will.

Love.
Linda & Gary

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SPRING CLEANING

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Windows are open wide in the Spring, carpets hang outside on the line, and the breeze is gentle and warm. It is the best time to rid yourself of unwanted accumulations, vacuum the dust, take down cobwebs, and challenge your fears. Anytime new insight replaces an old assumption or a fossilized perception is the Spring. New understandings sprout, new tolerances appear, and new curiosity draws you to previously dark places. Just as the sun shines earlier and longer in the Spring, changes that seemed impossible appear to be possible with each new insight into your own health.

The Spring wakes us, nurtures us, and revitalizes us. How often does your Spring come? If you are a prisoner of the calendar, it comes once a year. If you are creating authentic power, it comes frequently, or very frequently. It comes each time you recognize a frightened part of your personality as a part of yourself that you were born to challenge and leave behind. It comes when you realize that a painful emotion (such as anger, jealousy, fear, and resentment) is not “who you are,” but a message to pay attention to what you need to change in yourself in order to move into your full potential.

Creating authentic power is continual Spring Cleaning. Painful emotions show you what prevents you from creating harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life. What appeared attractive and worth keeping in the dark and cold of the Winter becomes unnecessary in the Spring, and sometimes very unattractive. Which of your painful emotions, such as anger, jealousy, and resentment, now looks unattractive to you? What out-of-control behavior, such as over-eating, gambling, shopping, mindless sex, or internet pornography are candidates for disposal? The more you challenge them by not acting on them while you are experiencing them, the more you free yourself to create the life that is calling you – a life of more joy and less pain, more freedom and less limitation, more love and less fear – and the more you naturally begin to give the gifts that you were born to give.

You can begin your Spring Cleaning now. Even if you live in the southern hemisphere and the autumn, not the spring, has arrived, you can begin your Spring Cleaning. Even in the winter you can begin it. Practice using the Spiritual Partnership Guidelines. Download and print them from https://seatofthesoul.com/free-tools/free-authentic-power-guidelines/. Find one that attracts you and experiment with it. Then find another. Now is the time for Spring Cleaning.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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SIX THINGS YOU CAN LEARN FROM GUILT

SIX THINGS YOU CAN LEARN FROM GUILT

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Many people think that guilt is a natural experience. It is a familiar experience, but it is not healthy or productive. It serves no constructive purpose. How can that be? Here are six things to think about the next time you are feeling guilty:

  • Guilt comes from fear. Your spiritual growth requires challenging fear and cultivating love. Holding onto your thoughts and feeling of guilt will not support you or anyone else. They prevent you from living in love, creating in love, and enjoying yourself in love.
  • Guilt impairs your ability to learn from your experiences. When you see something that you could have done differently, or wish you had done differently, remember how you could have spoken or acted in love instead of fear so that you can apply what you have learned next time (not to make yourself feel more guilty). Your experiences are designed to inform, support, and benefit you, not cause you to contract into fear and remorse.
  • Guilt is an experience of a frightened part of your personality, just as the actions that you regret came from a frightened part of your personality. Following fear with fear moves you in the opposite direction that your spiritual development requires, which is toward love.

 

  • Guilt keeps you from being honest with others and yourself. You cannot cause emotional pain in another person. You can trigger emotional pain in someone else, but the pain that is triggered comes from inside them (not from you). It is an opportunity for them to learn about themselves. Your actions are your responsibility. If they come from fear rather than love, they will create painful consequences for you.
  • The relationship between guilt and forgiveness may surprise you. Guilt is actually a twisted or manipulative way of seeking forgiveness. It is the belief that if you inflict suffering on yourself for your choices, another will forgive you for them. This is the perspective of the frightened part of your personality that feels guilty.
  • You cannot give the gifts that your soul wants you to give while you are feeling guilty. Your gift may be to raise a family, create a new kind of business, write books, dance, or any of countless things. Whatever it is, it will fulfill you as you give it and lead you to your next gifts. It will bring you joy. You cannot give any of your gifts while you are caught in fear – for example, anger, jealousy, despair, superiority, inferiority, and guilt.
Love.
Linda & Gary
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SPECIAL OPERATIONS OF THE HEART

SPECIAL OPERATIONS OF THE HEART

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In the mid-eighties a young couple told a private conference of scientists, academics, sociologists, and writers that they would be working with the U.S. Army on a program involving exceptional human capabilities and were asking for advice from their colleagues. Their subjects would be two Special Forces A Detachments, or Green Berets. This couple was gentle, sensitive, perceptive, and counter-culture in energy and appearance. I was in the conference. As a former Green Beret officer in Vietnam, I was concerned about the experiences they might encounter. I was doubtful that they understood the disconnection from people, shared environment of brutality, and disregard for liberal perspectives and the people who held them they were about to encounter. I introduced myself and offered to share what I knew about the Special Forces and some thoughts that might be helpful.

Twenty-seven years later we reconnected, and they were eager to report their experiences. The project, they told me, had been a success. They also told me that my comments had been “sobering and illuminating.” Apparently, as I thought, they had no experience with the type of thoughts and lives that I described.

I knew the insecurity of the men they would be working with for six months, because I shared it, and even today I am challenging some of the energy in me that brought me into the Army (I volunteered) and then into the Green Berets (I volunteered). I told them that their only chance of surviving this assignment – emotionally – much less learning from it was to rigorously maintain their integrity. If they did not, I felt certain that these young men would “eat them for lunch” – disdain them, dismiss them, resist them, and ridicule them. Their only hope of success, I told them, was to know who they were, share directly and honestly, and detach from the outcome. Any attempt to manipulate these men by trying to please or impress them would lead only to disaster.

They were often amazed, positively, by the results that following my suggestions created. The project opened doors for them that are still opening. Beyond that, they were touched most by the men themselves. The courage and compassion that this couple brought to their interactions with these men created bonds that they still treasure. I told them to be honest and direct, even if they were frightened. Here are some stories they told me of doing that.

The wife recalled that early in the project while she was putting neuro-feedback brainwave sensors on a young captain from West Point, he asked if she had been “one of those anti-Vietnam war demonstrators.” She paused, remembered my advice, took a deep breath, and replied, “You bet.” He was silent a moment, then relaxed again and said, “I find that one of the most fascinating periods of history.” That was all. No disdain. No superiority. It was one of many times that she established a beautiful connection that could not have been created without her integrity and courage. Her husband told me another story. After a neurofeedback training session an enlisted man lingered in the lab, asking questions. At last, the husband needed to leave, but when he began to leave, the man finally asked him, “What do you think of us?” It was another moment of truth. The husband remembered our talk, as had his wife before answering the captain, and said, “To tell you the truth, I am surprised at how much I like you guys.” The young man replied, “I am surprised at how much I like you, too.”

Moments like these were the ones they remembered more than a quarter of a century after our talk at the conference. They told me of being deeply touched by tears of compassion flowing down the face of an Army Ranger, falling onto his “Death From Above” T-shirt, as his heart opened during a meditation. They told me of soul-to-soul connections created where personality-to-personality connections would have been difficult. These are the connections I am sharing with you. These are the Special Operations that are altering military history and that will eventually change the nations that create military organizations. I am grateful to be alive in this exciting time with you.

Love.
Linda & Gary

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