Monday, November 24, 2014

The Power and Importance of Sanctuary

Hello everyone.

Please enjoy this little video that I created with my good friend Einar Berg.  It's called The Power and Importance of Sanctuary.

The Buddha said, "Do nothing, time is too precious to waste."  Time spent on our own is some of the richest time in life.  Join me as I discuss the many benefits that I've received from time spent in sanctuary.  

© Josephine Laing, 2014

"I Don't Know About You, but I Live in a Reincarnational Reality"

"I Don't Know About You, but I Live in a Reincarnational Reality" This was a quote from Ram Dass that I've adopted as my own.  Our lifetimes are like going to sleep at night.  We dream and then we wake up again to a whole new day.  It's just that with reincarnation it's on a slightly bigger scale. 

There was some wonderful research done at the University of Virginia in the late 1960's by a man named Ian Stevenson, MD who was a professor of pyschiatry.  He gathered 2,500 case studies of children who at around the age of two or three would speak openly about their previous families.  They also spoke about their former lives and the way they died.  Many of these children had nightmares about their past life experiences because when the volume is turned up loud (as is often the case in someone who has died relatively young by some violent or unexpected means) the memories can come through more easily.  

My dad was one of these kids.  He wasn't in Ian Stevenson's research group because he was born about 40 years earlier, however my dad did exhibit one of the characteristics that Ian covered in his research, which is known as xenoglossy.  Xenoglossy is the ability to speak in a language that you've had no former exposure to, at least not in this lifetime.  My dad grew up in relative isolation in the Arizona desert, and as a little tiny boy he spoke a few words of Hindi.  He named his cat the Hindu word for cat.  He also told my British grandmother and grandfather about his death experience in his most recent past life, where at the age of 11 he and his whole family died suddenly at the dinner table; crushed under the timbers of their home as it collapsed during an large earthquake.  

This kind of experience is common for these reincarnational children: a young and sudden death, recalled at a very young age.  Some of them have birthmarks or defects that match the wounds that their deceased former self had experienced.  Until recently,  these accounts have mostly lain somewhat dormant in family recollections or in the desks of researchers like Ian.  They were usually passed off as unexplainable anomalies, wondered at briefly and then forgotten about.  But now that nearly 3 billion of us are connected via the internet, we have access to lots of information that has formerly been unavailable, like Stevenson's research, along with other new discoveries in the the topic of the ongoing nature of consciousness.  

Though reincarnation is not readily accepted in the West, it does have a history of recognition in the Gnostic Christian texts, as well as in the ancient Kabbalistic Jewish teachings.  Throughout most of the world reincarnation has widely and wholeheartedly been embraced.  Hinduism and Buddhism both acknowledge its reality.  And the oral traditions, the numerous nature-based religions of the world,  have always accepted the cycles of life and death and rebirth.  

Lots of current research like the explorations into near death experiences show us that consciousness continues after the body and brain have died. This helps us to change our understanding about life and death.  It frees us to realize that our spiritual growth is a process and that we don't have to accomplish everything in one go.  We are reborn together again and again as we progressively embrace our interconnectedness and move closer and closer to love.  Voltaire said, "It is not more surprising to be born twice than once."  Know that love is never lost and that we all dance together again and again.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  

© Josephine Laing, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

Grief, Resonance, Love, Spirit and Dolphins

After experiencing eighteen deaths in twenty four months back in the early part of the new millennium, Frank and I felt as if we had gone through the advanced course on death, loss and grieving.  Our friend, Rupert Sheldrake has postulated that there is a resonance between individuals of a species that lets them know what has come before and what might lie ahead.  As Frank considered this idea in terms of these many deaths that we'd experienced, he came up with a theory of his own.  

Frank noticed that often with the loss of a loved one, he would feel off-balance, even clumsier.  He also felt a void, not just psychologically, but also physically.  This made him realize that the energy field of the person who had died was gone. Their body was no longer there to resonate with.  Similar to a bat or a dolphin who uses echolocation, the energetic signal that Frank would be sending their way was no longer bouncing back to him.  He felt that he literally needed to reformat his own field in order to steady himself once more.

So, how do we reformat our field?  Well, we can start with all of the many ways that we process our grief: replaying the scene in our mind, reliving it with our friends, loosing ourselves in our work, allowing the passing of time, getting lots of physical exercise, realistically looking at the relationship we had with the one who has gone, seeing the attributes of those who have died in those who are still alive, doing art, letting ourselves cry as much and as long as we need to.  

There are also other ways that we can heal ourselves energetically.  Sometimes, if we are lucky and open to the idea, our loved ones can reach across the veil between the living and the dying to touch our lives in meaningful ways.  This can often allow our healing to come to us almost instantaneously.  

My friend Lillian lost her son.  He was the happy one who always made her laugh and she was just so sad that he was gone.  She couldn't stop grieving and crying.  Then, one night while she was in bed, she awoke to the presence of a light in the room.  As she looked, she realized that it was her son and he was looking so very sad.  She asked him, "Why are you sad, you're in heaven?"  And with that he faded away.  

In that instant, Lillian realized that the reason he was so sad was because she was so sad and she knew that he wanted her to be happy.  Our loved ones don't want us to mourn our lives away.  They want us to enjoy and love our lives.  In that moment, Lillian knew she had to heal her heart and get on with her life and find her way back to balance and love again.  And with that determination, she did.  

When our dear friend Franci died, we all went out on a boat onto the bay to scatter her ashes in the waves.  As her son poured the ash we tossed flowers from the garden into the water.  Some of the ash floated on the surface, some went straight down tinkling in the sunlight that pierced to the depths and some took flight in the air.  As a gust of ash blew up I was about to take a breath and there was Franci, ready to enter my lungs.  So I inhaled.  Right then, Franci's totem animal, the dolphin, appeared.  Not one, but three of them, arching up out of the water into the ash and flowers, circling round several times filling all of our hearts with wonder and a fond farewell.  We knew in that moment that Franci was in good company and we all celebrated her life and her love.

Our hearts do get broken, but sometimes spirit steps in to help and lets us become more able to navigate those turbulent waters and find our way quickly back onto the road to joy. 

© Josephine Laing, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

One Foot on Either Side of the Threshold of Life

As my friend Maggie was passing away we all took turns sitting vigil by her bedside.  It took her about three or four days to die.  As the time drew nearer she experienced increased lapses of consciousness.  I tended to take the night shifts.  I'd get off work, go home, change clothes, have a meal, and then head on over to her house.  I relieved the evening friend somewhere around 10:00 and sat with her until 2:00.  That's when her neighbor and long term friend Harold would take over.  

On the night she actually died, the most profound thing happened.  As I came to be with her and sat by her side, she greeted me with such warm love in her eyes and patted my hand, and said, "Thank you darling so much for coming to be with me."  Then, tiring easily, she slipped away into a little time of sleep.  

A moment or two later she rose up with a start, reaching her arms out in front of her and called out, "Arthur! Grandmama!  It's so wonderful to see you."  Her husband had died before her, and so of course, had her grandmother.  But there they were, in the room with us, and she was reaching out to them.  Then she'd lapse with exhaustion and sink back down on the mattress and drift to sleep again.  A minute later she would wake up, pat my hand and say, "Oh darling, I'm so glad you're here.  Thank you so much for coming to be with me."

Like seaweed on an underwater rock, she flowed from one state of reality back into the other, again and again as the hours went by, deep into the night.  Then Harold took over and an hour or two later,  she died.  I felt like I had been to a going away party and a welcome home party all in the same night.  It was a wonderful experience and I'll never forget it.  

A few years back our friend Ralph passed away.  On his last day, surrounded by his loved ones, Ralph pointed with his finger to our friend Dave, and then to our friend Mark, and then to his darling wife Aleta.  Then looking each of them in the eyes by turn, he pointed between them, and beyond them, and around them, to all the others who were there, not in body but in spirit.  They were there to greet him as he made ready to join them going home.  

We are not alone.  The world of spirit is rich and all around us all the time.  And as we get close to making our own transition, the barriers break down and the wall between life and death becomes very thin.  I consider these two incidents to be very valuable in my life.  When times get tough, when I'm in a low spot, I try to remember these lessons.  This lets me realize that help is all around and love is everywhere all the time.  May we all move with gratitude as we round the bend into the fullness of this season.  

© Josephine Laing, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Beautiful Ghost Story

In honor of Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos I'd like to share with you an experience that I had a decade ago while Frank and I were traveling in New Zealand.  It shows the depth of love and caring that those in spirit can express to us across the veil.  

We had just arrived in Wellington from the Ferry and hadn't yet rented a car.  So we decided to share a taxi van with several other travelers.  The driver set off to deliver all of us to our respective destinations.  

Frank and I had been availing ourselves of farm stays and home stays and had arranged with an older woman named Sylvia.  She had shared with us on the phone that she was looking for a way to make a little more income and thought she'd try opening her home to visitors.  We were to be her first guests. 

As the cabby and I were busy rearranging and unloading bags from his trailer onto the sidewalk,  Frank, alternating with a stately elder gentleman, were shuttling our bags up to the front door of the house.  The man smiled and murmured a few words in my direction as he gathered up our things and I looked forward to being properly introduced at the door, once we were all ready to go in.  

When I entered the house, I was cordially greeted by Sylvia and she showed us to our room.  Frank went with her to see the rest of the house as I excused myself to briefly freshen up.  Before I had made ready to leave the room, Frank returned and said that the place was very nice and that Sylvia loved tennis and was in the middle of watching a game. 

I asked how her husband was and if Frank had enjoyed meeting him.  He said, "No, Sylvia shared that her husband is dead.  He and their two teenaged children died in a car crash late one night the previous year."  I said, "Well, who was that man then?"  Frank asked "What man?"  I went on, "The older gentleman who was collecting our bags."  Frank said he hadn't seen anyone.  He went on to say that Sylvia had shown him a photo of her family.  It was up in the kitchen.  I went up to look at the photo and there he was, smiling at me with Sylvia and their two children by his side. 

 I suddenly knew that being as we were her first in-home-guests, he had come to make sure that all was well before she embarked upon this new venture.  Frank and I had apparently passed his purview and were welcomed by him into their home.

With love, only love, a very Day of the Dead to each of you.

© Josephine Laing, 2014