Archive for May, 2009

May 28 2009

Now Here This – The Purrer of NOW #14

Eckhart Tolle has said that he’s known three Zen masters in his life and all of them were cats.  My Zen master, Zeena, is teaching me valuable life lessons. One of the most important things I’m learning is to Be simple and to Simply be, to feel my feet on the ground and be fully present.  

Buddha said, “Be where you are, otherwise you will miss your life.” It’s easy to go unconscious and sleepwalk through our life, therefore, it’s important to have reminders that wake us up. In the novel “Island”, by Aldous Huxley, the mynah birds on the island are taught to say “Attention, Here and Now, Here and Now.” Zeena does this for me; sometimes I’ll be lost in watching some TV show and Zeena will jump on my lap and say, “Neow Neow Neow.”

She’s teaching me that Now is all there is. Whether you’re chasing a mouse or chasing a dream, be fully present with it. It doesn’t matter what your dream is and it doesn’t matter what you do; all that really matters is that you be fully where you are while you’re doing it. A cat isn’t concerned about yesterday or tomorrow. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, right now is a gift, that’s why they call it the present. I invite all of us to open our present like a cat does. A cat enjoys all that there is about the present; the present is something to fully savor with all our senses.

I’m also learning from my cat that we are purrfect just the way we are. I’m learning to fully allow, accept, and welcome All of who I am. Like Zeena, I can sometimes be persnickety, and have been known to throw the occasional hissy fit. But like Zeena, I’m learning to accept myself just as I am. Carl Jung said, “I’d rather be whole than good.” I bet Carl Jung had a cat. A cat doesn’t judge and criticize itself and try to be good. A cat doesn’t think, “I really need to be more loving.” Or, “I shouldn’t be napping now, I should be doing something, I should be accomplishing something.” Or, “I really shouldn’t use my human as a trampoline when she’s trying to sleep.” No, a cat allows ALL of its catness. A cat is a cat and that’s that.

I was getting ready to go to a party one day and I was feeling nervous about it. I feel uncomfortable at parties sometimes. I worry about what to do or say. I feel a bit like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. As I was worrying about this, I looked at Zeena, and these words came to me: “There’s nothing I have to do today, there’s nothing I have to do or say, just be in the Now all the way, that’s all I have to do today.  Breathe in. Breathe out. That’s all I have to do.” I love those words. They’re very soothing to me.

While driving to the party I shared those words with my husband Tom, and our friend Nicola Gordon, a singer and songwriter from Santa Barbara. She loved those words too and said, “Let’s turn them into a song!” And we did! We put the words to the tune of  “The Ants go Marching One by One”.  We call it the Now song. This song has become a great reminder to me and my friends to breathe and come into the Now whenever we feel stressed or pressured. It’s also a great reminder, just like Zeena is, that we are enough, we are purrfect just the way we are.

(This part was written a week ago)

I am laying on my back and Zeena is laying on my chest. We are looking into each other’s eyes. She is very sick; her liver is failing. She is so still. I pet her, and she softly purrs. “I’m so sorry sweetheart that this is happening. I’m so sorry you are hurting.” I realize I’m saying this to myself, as well as to her.

As we lay heart to heart, I imagine pink light radiating from my heart to hers, flooding her whole body in pink light, trying to change her yellow jaundiced skin to pink. Maybe I will suddenly be endowed with healing power and a miracle will happen and she will survive, proving the vet wrong.

We hold each other in our silent gaze. We lay together in the warmth of loving presence for a long time, heart to heart, eye to eye, soul to soul. As I look at her, my mind starts to wonder, “How will it be without her?” It is hard to imagine her not being here. I will miss so much her sweet meow, her bunny-soft fur, how she runs to me for safety when her brother Bo is chasing her, how she lets me hold her like a baby, how she nestles into Tom’s armpit when he’s laying next to me, how she licks us with sweet kitty kisses and we joke, “Zeena can’t hold her licker.” Tears slowly roll down my face.

As I wipe my tears, I look at her – she is still here. Right now, she is here. She is laying on my chest. She is looking into my eyes. She is breathing in and breathing out with me in this warm, intimate moment, in this sweet, timeless space. This moment is all that there is. She is here now, and, so am I.

Is there something that life is asking you to come into loving presence with? Breathe in. Breathe out. Now…Here…This. Right Now is all there is.

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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May 21 2009

Gardening the Energy Field of Love #13

What if you thought that you might only have a short time to live? What would you be doing with your life? Where would your focus be?  Ever since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve been asking myself these questions. I saw my doctor a few weeks ago for a post hysterectomy check up and he told me that because there was a medium risk for my uterine cancer to recur somewhere else in my body, he recommended doing both chemo and radiation.

I am choosing to do neither of them. It doesn’t make sense to me at this time to do something so debilitating to my immune system when we don’t even know if there is any cancer left. What I am choosing to do instead is to continue with my strict diet, AND…to radiate myself on a daily basis with the healing energy of love! My soul lights up at the thought, saying, “Yes!” Cultivating the energy of love in my life is the work I have been doing for years. It is what laid the groundwork for a wonderful, incredibly loving man to show up who matched that vibration (that would be my husband, the wondrous Tom). It is a law: if you build the energy of love, love will come. Now I have the motivation to turn up the volume on that.

Love has healing power. I’m not referring to romantic love; it is more powerful and permanent than that. Love is a state of connectedness, wholeness, union, and harmony with all that is.  In the book “Healing with Love”, Dr. Leonard Laskow writes, “Love stimulates healing by relating us to the natural order and harmony inherent in our cells, in our selves, and in universal consciousness. Healing through love is a process of becoming whole.”

Even though I feel a strong intention to focus throughout my day on love, I know that inspiration wanes and, like weeds, fears can take over; I tend to be a worrier. Fortunately, I am also a warrior. My spiritual warrior is very practical and has prompted me to implement daily practices that help plant me securely in the energy field of love. I want to share with you some of these practices.

1. LOVING SELF-TALK. I come into union with myself by loving my feelings as if they are my children, treating them like a mother would treat a beloved child. I bring loving attention to them, call them “honey” and “sweetheart”, talk to them in an accepting way, and allow them to express themselves. Once our feelings are fully seen, allowed and experienced, we expand into our full flowing aliveness.

2. THE WORD ‘LOVE’.  I lace my day with the word ‘love’. Just saying or writing the word ‘love’ effects our cells. In Masaru Emoto’s book, The Hidden Messages in Water, he tells about how the effect of words on water molecules revealed that positive words like ‘love’ created harmonious patterns in water molecules, and negative words created disharmonious patterns. Since we are largely made up of water, it makes sense that the words we say to ourselves and each other have a powerful effect on us.

3. VISUAL REMINDERS OF LOVE.  I put a picture of myself as a child where I can see it everyday. I look into that child’s eyes, I see her beautiful soul, and say, “Hello sweet girl. I love you.” My teenage niece told me recently that she had been making some decisions that were emotionally hurtful to herself. Then she saw a picture of herself as a little girl and she realized, “I’m hurting that little girl.” That helped her to feel compassion for herself and make more loving decisions.

4. ACTIVATE YOUR HEART CHAKRA.  HeartMath Institute has created a simple 3-step formula that stimulates the energy of love in your body: First, focus on your heart. Next, breathe through your heart. Finally, generate the feeling of love in your heart by imagining someone or something you love; or imagine bathing your heart in warm pink light, the color of the heart chakra. I have an Emwave device from HeartMath that gives bio-feedback and helps me know when I am in that state (the light turns green when I’m in ‘love’, and red when I am not).

5. NATURE LOVER. I take daily love-generating walks communing and harmonizing with nature. On a recent walk I was inspired to write this poem, celebrating our ‘love affair’:

NATURE IS MY LOVER

The sun warmly kisses my face.

The ground holds me in earthy embrace.

The wind playfully tussles my hair.

The gift of flowers scents the air.

My lover gives me lots of space.

And let’s me move at my own pace.

Though some would say there’s no one there,

I deeply feel this love affair.

Abraham Lincoln said, “It’s not the years in our life that counts, it’s the life in our years.” Ultimately, it’s the love in our moments that truly counts. I think that is what we take with us when we die, how much we have opened our heart, our cells, and our being to love. Even if I were to die a year from now, if I am filled with love, I will have accomplished a huge thing, I would have done what my soul came to do. It’s all about love!

If you thought you might have a short time to live, what would you be focusing on? What generates the energy of love in you?

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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May 11 2009

Fired Up & Drawing on My “Trust” Fund! 5/11/09, Issue #12

(Written Thursday, May 7)

I look out my window on this dark night and watch in frightened awe the wind-whipped Jesusita fire glowing in terrible beauty for 5 miles across the Santa Barbara mountains. My heart pounds as I see that a portion of it is racing towards us! There are urgent sounds of sirens, helicopters, planes, and a roaring wind; it sounds like war. During the day the winds had died down, and the fire slept (after destroying 75 homes the night before); it seemed we were safe. But the sundowner winds awakened the fire with startling speed into a house-devouring monster that is now spreading out of control. We are on the outside edge of the evacuation zone and are faced with the question, “What do we take with us? What is important? What can we do without?”

I am adrenalized and frantically packing essentials. Then Tom and I stop what we’re doing and look at each other; holding our gaze, he tells me, “Whatever happens, we will be fine.” I take a deep breath; I know what he means. We know how to come fully into the moment, into the here and now, and be in that state of grace where everything works out. That is our “Trust” fund, which we have access to at any time. Even if we were living in a newspaper tent under the freeway, if we are in the moment, in that state of trust, we are safe.

During the course of this fire, flashes of awareness have been coming to me that cancer is like a fire. My cancer is apparently “out”, but the doctor said there is a medium risk of recurrence; there are possible embers that could be whipped into a raging fire again, a body devouring monster, spreading out of my control – like my imagination! Sometimes I am aware of a frantic energy in me, trying to make myself relax; afraid that stress, like the wind, could whip the embers of cancer back to monstrous life. Then I am reminded of my “trust” fund, and I take a deep breath, knowing that I will be fine no matter what happens.

It is now Sunday. Over the last three days the marines landed and saved Santa Barbara! – the marine layer that is, blanketing us all in cool, moist protection. I am letting out a big sigh of relief. Tom and I went to a dance today where people gathered to commune, and share in our mutual experience of having been under siege and having survived. There were people at the dance whose homes had burnt to the ground; they had come to dance their pain of loss and their joy of community and survival. Dancing can be an act of healing ourselves. Animal’s bodies naturally tremble once danger has passed, releasing the energy of the trauma. Dancing is a way to do the same.

I danced my body in rocking, shaking, releasing movements; like a salt shaker, releasing salty sweat and tears as my heart welled with compassion for those who had lost their homes. This spilled over into compassion for all of us who have had great losses in our lives: homes, breasts, uteruses, relationships. Dancing, shaking, releasing stress and deep sadness, moving through the wreckage, rising from the ashes, as passion comes, igniting flames of rebirth and celebration – such is the dance of life.

Fires are a natural part of life. They serve a beneficial purpose. The fires in our personal lives can do the same, but that depends on how we choose to look at things. Perhaps it is no coincidence that last week there was a Buddhist sand painting exhibit here, which was exquisitely detailed and beautiful. On the last day of the exhibit they purposely destroyed it, demonstrating the transitory nature of material life and a letting go of attachment to how things are.

It is freeing to learn how much we can let go of; whether it’s a lost home, relationship, or uterus; we manage to rise from the ashes and recover our passion to recreate our lives. The human spirit has wings, like the phoenix, that carry us to new heights and new life.

Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” Victor Hugo

What is really important to you? What is it you would take with you if you had to leave your house? What do you want to take with you when you leave this life? I’m taking my “trust” fund!

 In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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May 06 2009

Family Legacy – The Amazing Relay Race! 5/6/09 Issue #11

Last night I had a dream that I was at my grandmother Signe’s house with my husband Tom. She wasn’t home. Tom and I were in her bedroom, laying on her bed, talking. I was feeling scared that my grandmother would come home and find us on her bed; I was afraid she might think we had been “doing it”.

Suddenly, I heard her enter the house, walking quickly down the hall towards us. Startled, we guiltily jumped out of bed. I tried to smooth the covers but they got caught on me and instead I pulled them off. Busted! She stood at the doorway looking at us. She was not smiling. I told her, “We weren’t doing anything.” I knew she wouldn’t believe me. I felt a sense of shame, like I was bad and had done something wrong.

My grandmother Signe (long deceased) has been in my consciousness lately; I’ve been writing a story about her and her mother, my great-grandmother, Johanna. The story is focused mainly on Johanna. There is an intriguing family mystery involving her. She came to the United States in 1881 from Sweden, a pretty young girl in her mid twenties, and worked as head laundress at the Vanderbilt mansion in New York. She became pregnant out of wedlock and family rumor has it that the father was possibly one of the Vanderbilt sons. (This has never been confirmed.)

Johanna moved away and gave birth to the baby, my grandmother Signe. She lived in secrecy about who the father was. In those days there was a great stigma about having a child out of wedlock. I’ve been wondering lately, is there a legacy of shame in my family that got passed down either genetically or behaviorally or both? I know that my mother had a shame-based attitude. I have also felt the terrible weight of shame in my life; as a teenager I became deeply depressed and suicidal, feeling that I was bad, and that I would never be loved. Shame is more than the feeling that we’ve done something wrong; it is the feeling that we are something wrong.

As I’m exploring this, I’m wondering if an inherent imprint of shame around sexuality could have been one of the factors in my having uterine cancer? My mother also had uterine cancer. It is not unreasonable to think that blocked energy in a part of our body makes that part susceptible to disease.

Sometimes I imagine that I am helping to heal this ancestral legacy of shame. Maybe the work that my ancestors didn’t finish, I can help finish; as if I am in a relay race, carrying the baton forward. Carl Jung has written about this:  I feel very strongly that I am under the influence of things or questions which were left incomplete and unanswered by my parents and grandparents and more distant ancestors. It often seems as if there were an impersonal karma within a family which is passed on from parents to children. It has always seemed to me that I had to answer questions which fate had posed to my forefathers, and which had not yet been answered, or as if I had to complete, or perhaps continue, things which previous ages had left unfinished.”

I awoke from a dream 20 years ago with these words resounding in my mind, “All you have to do in your whole life is to love yourself. That is all you have to do.” The shame and deep depression that I’ve felt in my life have galvanized me over the years to focus on learning to love myself, every square inch of me, the inside and the outside, the upside and the downside. I feel like I have made great strides in that direction. In the past I often felt the impulse to hide myself, as if to conceal my imagined ugliness.  I now feel compelled to reveal myself, to be completely open, honest, transparent, and self-accepting.

My great-grandmother Johanna had tremendous strength and courage to sail to a foreign land, to have a child out of wedlock, and to keep and raise that child. I like to think that strength and courage are also part of our family heritage. Two psychics have told me that my grandfather Charles (Signe’s husband) is nearby and is sending me love.  It is comforting to think that I am being watched over. As I carry the baton forward, facing, revealing, and loving all of who I am, I imagine my ancestors cheering me on from the sidelines.

Do you have a family legacy?  How is your amazing relay race going?

 In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

 

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