Archive for December, 2009

Dec 27 2009

Merry “Namaste” & Happy “Just Like Me” – Issue #37

   I’m going to a holiday “whole”y tonight and feast my eyes on the beautiful lights. I used to call them parties, which was a very fitting name since just a part of me would show up – usually the part that felt uncomfortable and had worry thoughts like “Nobody’s going to talk to me, and if they do I won’t have anything interesting to say.” My party animal was a long-tailed cat in a roomful of rocking chairs. But this season I’ve decided to have a new focus, which is: “I am a beautiful soul and I see the beautiful soul that you are.” That is the meaning of “Namaste” — the light within me sees and honors the light within you. It has transformed my experience of parties into “whole”ies, and my party animal into a “whole”y being.

   On Thanksgiving day I walked to the grocery store near my house and I was filled with the spirit of Namaste. A homeless person was in front of me in the checkout line — he was dirty, a bit smelly, and his eyes were red-rimmed from being pickled in alcohol. He turned to me and started talking to me. In the past I would have been uncomfortable, but I looked into his red-rimmed eyes and saw the light of his spirit. I smiled and the light in me honored the light in him and I glowed with that light the rest of the day. What a wonderful feeling to focus on my beautiful light and see the beautiful light in others. It’s calming, expanding, and joyful. There’s nothing else that need be done. I don’t have to make interesting conversation. I can simply BE and SEE the beauty and light in ME and THEE.

   While Namaste essentially means “The God in me sees and honors the God in you”, to round it out I have added to that another practice of loving kindness in which the human in me sees and feels compassion for the human in you. Writer Chade-Meng Tan calls this practice “Just Like Me”. He writes that when we perceive others as similar to us, we are much more likely to have positive feelings towards them. He suggests we focus on the following:

   “This person has a body and a mind, just like me.?This person has feelings, emotions and thoughts, just like me.?This person has at some point been sad, disappointed, angry, hurt or confused, just like me.?This person has in his or her life, experienced physical and emotional pain and suffering, just like me.?This person wishes to be free from pain and suffering, just like me.?This person wishes to be safe, healthy and loved, just like me.?This person wishes to be happy, just like me.”

   Seeing and honoring the light in myself and others, and also seeing and feeling compassion for our humanness, creates a “whole”y experience. We are all THAT. We are ALL that. I’m wishing for all of us a very Merry Namaste and a Happy “Just Like Me” that extends throughout the whole year. “Whole”y on!

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Dec 19 2009

Mirror-cle at the Button Factory – Issue #36

I imagine that many of you will be going home to spend time with your family during the holidays. For some of you that will be bliss, for others, not so much. My father died when I was 17 and my mother passed away a few years ago, but every year prior to that my sister and I and her children would go back to our childhood home in Mystic, Conn. and stay with my mother and brother for a week. I thought of it as going back to the button factory because that’s where all the buttons were installed.

It was my yearly exam where I’d get to put to use all my latest self-help tools. Ram Dass has said that if you think you’re enlightened, just go spend a week with your parents. Nevertheless, I’d always have high hopes and would be well-armed with my latest personal growth books, my meditation tapes, and an “I can do this” attitude. Things would go really well…for the first hour or two, sometimes even a day or two. But then sure enough my mom would criticize or hover and my buttons would be activated, and I’d be lost in the button factory.

One time during one of these visits I awoke in the middle of the night feeling distressed and I had an epiphany. I imagined my family asleep in their rooms and in the quiet space of the night I saw my mother’s critical nature that I judged, and I realized that I have a critical nature. I thought about my brother and how easily offended he was and thought, oh, I am easily offended. I took a good look at my sister’s people pleaser and realized, I’m a people pleaser at times. Everything I judged in them was in me. I had been judging in them what I hadn’t wanted to face in myself. It wasn’t just an intellectual awareness of it, it was a full body, full spirit experience of our interconnectedness. Instead of seeing me versus them, I was seeing me as them, and them as me. I experienced that we were part of the same whole, that we were one. I had to smile to myself when I really got that they were my mirrors. It was a mirror-cle moment.

I realized that the real test isn’t about seeing how long I can go without my buttons being pushed — the real test is being able to face and embrace all of my disowned, projected selves. It’s not about becoming perfect, it’s about becoming whole by loving and accepting all the many me’s that life is reflecting back to me, the meany me’s, the moody me’s, the messy me’s, and even the mighty me’s.

Sometimes in the early morning I’ll look over at my sleeping husband Tom and I’ll think to myself, “Wow, if everyone in my life is my mirror, then Tom is my mirror and I think Tom is wonderful, I think Tom is a beautiful soul. I see the beautiful soul in my family members as well. Since they are my mirrors, I must be a beautiful soul too. To be able to face and embrace THAT is truly the biggest mirror-cle of all.

Do you have beautiful souls in your life? That’s because you are one! Mirrors mirrors all around, reflections of your Self abound!

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen




I’m visiting my family, the button factory it’s called

because that’s where all of my buttons were installed.

My Mom’s buttin’ in and I feel appalled.

I’m buttoning my lip and try to hide that I’m galled.


My brother is so sensitive, so easily offended.

I tiptoe through the minefield, afraid I’ll be upended.

My sister is obsequious, and smiles through gritted teeth,

Hiding all her real feelings that lie underneath.


I’m trying to avoid my buttons being pushed.

I’m wrestling with my feelings and I am bushed.

I’m barely succeeding in holding my tongue,

when snap! I finally lose it and come all undone!


That shakes me awake and I begin to see

that everything I judge in them is also in me!

The button factory is like a house of mirrors

reflecting back to me all my disowned terrors.


As I face and embrace each rejected part

I experience my family with more love and heart.

I can see that we are parts of the same whole.

I can feel that we’re connected, that we are one soul.


Now the years have passed, and so has my mom

I miss the button factory, my childhood home.

But the buttons are still in me, letting me know

I need to love all parts of me, and let my judgments go.







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Dec 12 2009

Embrace Tiger, Return to Mountain – Issue #35

I’ve been following with interest the current tale of Tiger Woods. Women are coming forward exposing intimate details of secret affairs with this super private man. The cat is out of the bag — Tiger has been a horn dog, and now his chicks are coming home to roost, and he is in the doghouse, big time! This swinger of golf clubs has been revealed to be a swinger with women and he has now swung with great velocity from fame to disgrace, praise to blame, and pleasure to pain. He’s demonstrating what happens when we try to hide our secret shadows — pressure mounts until the shadow finds a way to seep out, leak out, or leap out like a caged tiger.

Robert Bly talks about the shadow as the bag we carry on our back, containing all that we repress and deny about ourselves. The more we repress, the more the bag fills until pressure builds to a bursting point. I believe that there is inherent within each of us an impetus towards wholeness and those repressed parts of us seek a way to release and relieve the pressure and restore that wholeness. Tiger Woods was fairly blatant in his infidelity and promiscuity – he left hundreds of text messages. It seems that his persona of perfection created a deficit with ‘balance due’ – in other words, some part of him set himself up to blow his cover in order to ultimately create balance and wholeness.

I attended a workshop recently with tai chi master, Al Huang, who taught us a move called, ironically, “Embrace tiger, return to mountain” (he wrote a book by that title years ago). He told us to embrace our tigers, our challenges, our shadows — look them in the eyes, face them head on. Once we have done that we can return to the mountain, return to balance, centered on solid ground, resting in wholeness, with nothing to run from, nothing to hide from, no secret shame dogging our heels, no crouching tigers hiding in the shadows waiting to pounce.

This is a lesson for all of us, reminding us to be inclusive of our whole self, to invite all our shadows to the party…or else…they will crash the party. Tiger’s shadows have come crashing down on him. But like all the calamities in our lives, it is an opportunity to be honest, reveal all, and come into the wholeness of our authentic self. It is a great relief to be open and honest and real. As Mark Twain said, “Always tell the truth, that way you don’t have to remember anything.”  And that way we don’t have to lug around that heavy bag anymore!

Do you hear a growling sound behind you? Have you faced and embraced your inner tiger? It may be time to let the tiger out of the bag and face it head on.  Once you do that you’ll soon be feeling grrrrrrrrrrrreat! Like a whole in One!


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Dec 03 2009

Play Your Way Into Your ‘Right’ Mind – Issue #34

Are you in your ‘right’ mind, in a spacious place, tasting life anew in the Now? Or are you in your left mind, stuck out in left field, munching on rehashed leftovers? That’s what our left brain does — it recycles mind chatter and generates a wall of words that separates us from the peace and stillness of our right brain. We can’t function in the world without our left brain, we need it for language, numbers, structure, and boundaries; but sometimes we get trapped within those boundaries. In the book ‘My Stroke of Insight’, brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor writes about her massive stroke that blew out the left hemisphere of her brain. With the din of her left brain quieted, she was immersed in the expansive, present-moment, right brain hemisphere — the portal to a peaceful paradise.  She paints a vivid and fascinating picture of her experience.

I have found that my left brain can be like a manic hamster on a wheel, going round and round, spinning yarns, worries, and what ifs, ad nauseum. It is so dizzying that I need a drama-mine pill — a reality pill to remind me that this drama is mine and what traps me in the drama is the spin I am putting on things, the stories I am constantly recycling. The left brain loves drama. Stinking thinking, judgments, catastrophizing, shoulding on ourselves and others, these are all left brain past times, and future times — anywhere but here and now times.

On the other side, the right brain is right here, right now, feeling peaceful and calm, experiencing oneness and union and a sense that all’s right with the world. Being in the right brain is like taking a chill pill, “I’m cool. Life is good. Everything is One-derful.”

I think that there is a certain beauty to the design. The hell of left brain feelings of discord, worry and separation instills in us an impetus to seek the heaven of right brain feelings of peace and union. It could be all part of the divine plan to motivate us to find our way back Home. When I’m out in ‘left’ field, judging, worrying, and criticizing, I am compelled by the discomfort of that place to take a field trip to find the wordless, wondrous, spacious place of my right mind where I think not, therefore I AM. As Rumi so eloquently put it:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field, I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

doesn’t make any sense.”

How do we get to that field? First notice and identify where you are; when you hear yourself judging and spinning yarns, when you’re aware that scurrying, worrying thoughts are spinning on the wheel in your mind, know that you are in your left hemisFEAR. Take the wheel and turn to the right, telling yourself, “Right here, right now is all there is, and right now all is well — breathe, relax, trust.” The left-brain chatter quiets, the body relaxes and you become peacefully encircled in the serene embrace of the right-brain hemiSHERE.

There are many other ways to quiet left brain chatter and turn on right brain peace, such as prayer, meditation, tai chi, yoga, walks in nature, breath work, and calling on your faith in a higher power. However, the most fun and joyous way for me is to sing and dance and play. Reverend Michael Beckwith says that praying and playing are the same energetic. That makes sense, since they are both in the realm of the right brain. Playfulness is next to godliness.

Every morning I sing and dance and play to the Beatles song, “Twist and Shout”. “Well shake it up baby now. Twist and Shout!” I shake my body like a dog shakes water off its’ fur; this shakes free left hemisFEARs and tensions, and wakes my spirit right up — it is shake and wake time!

Sometimes when I find myself lost in “poor little me” thoughts, feeling unloved, unlovable, and ‘left’ out, I tickle myself awake by singing The Worm Song:

“Nobody likes me.  Everybody hates me.

I’m gonna go eat worms.

Long thin, slimey ones; short, fat, juicy ones.

Itsy, bitsy, squirmy little worms.”

Humor is a great waker upper and before I know it I have lightened up and transformed a can of worms into butterflies!

When I notice that I am worrying, fretting, and forgetting the big picture, I shift myself by singing this song I wrote (along with my friend Nicola Gordon) to the tune of The Ants go Marching One by One. It’s called The Now Song. Sing along with me!

“There’s nothing I have to do today, hurrah, hurrah.

There’s nothing I have to do or say, hurrah, hurrah.

Just be in the NOW all the way.

That’s all I have to do today.

Breathe in, Breathe out,

Sing and dance and play.”

That always brings me right here, right now. What are ways you bring yourself into the spacious field of right-brained peace, unity and well-being?  I’ll meet you there!

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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