Path Basics

Cultivating Conscious Joy: A Practice of Presence

Joy holds our infinitely capacity to be fully present, and to see and feel beauty and grace, no matter what life brings our way. All we really control is our ability to show up and embody love, through the bitter and the sweet.

Joy is part of our true, best nature, along with its mirror qualities of grace, awe, beauty, resilience and connection.

Joy is a gift from the Goddess that helps us when the going gets tough, and in the hard, hard work of healing our soul and our world.

Conscious joy is a practice of recognizing and cherishing the things in our life that give us joy. It conceives joy as a state of being, rather than as a fleeting experience, that we cultivate by becoming increasingly aware of our capacity to be present, and to bring our best qualities to our life challenges and pleasures.

Cultivate the practice of conscious joy by paying close attention to those moments when you feel truly alive and present, and in alignment with the best qualities of your nature not just when good things are happening, but also in the painful, difficult parts of your life. Imagine that you are a cup, or a reservoir, that can collect these joy moments: let them fill you up and change you; and know that this capacity for joy will be there for you, and for others, to draw upon when needed.

Leaving Your Parents’ House

A simple dream packed with big truths: I am escaping my parent’s house with my brothers and sisters. We all load into the car, not knowing where we are going or what to bring. There is no fear or desperation in this dream, only the surety that we have to leave.

To come into a full expression of our true power and personal leadership, we must leave our parent’s house.  Not necessarily our flesh and blood parents, though this is often the case, but all those external voices of authority that tells us who we are, and how to live our lives.  The loudest and most delimiting voice is the culture itself, the water in which we collectively swim, with its ever repeating, self reinforcing messages of what constitutes power, beauty, happiness, success and worthiness.

If we want something different than the ill fitting cloth of the life we were conditioned to lead, then we have to get behind the steering wheel of the car and head in a new direction. The car is our life and the road is our journey toward inner sovereignty. We have to leave behind the world of what we know, and enter into the open ended landscape of what can be, with no map and no set destination. The directional compass of soul and our surety of purpose can lead us past our fears into a life of our own making; one that shines with the true leadership of our unique configuration of power and beauty.

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Sexism is in the Water

In-your-face sexism was in the news again, this time concerning the “brogrammer” culture of the tech industry. TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, a leading industry conference, included a presentation by Australian programmers of an app called “Titstare”, in which “you take photos of yourself staring at tits,” programmer Jethro Batts explained. He went on to say, “I think this is the breast hack ever.” In a separate incident online, hateful and bigoted musings of a media company’s chief tech resulted in his firing although this behavior had been going on for years.

Isn’t it fascinating how sexist attitudes crop up everywhere from the factory to the keyboard? Why are they so pervasive and resilient, and how will they be changed?

Sexism is systemic. It is the cultural broth in which our psyches simmer from cradle to grave. It is as if sexist attitudes are added to the water that we all unknowingly drink from birth. Despite tremendous change in the last century, sexist attitudes and behaviors persist as part of our shared belief system.

Technologist Adria Richards notes “There are three messages that young girls get before they get interested in computers: One, you wouldn’t be interested in this. Two, you wouldn’t be good at this, and three, you don’t belong here.” This is one small node of the cognitive structure we collectively instill into males and females. Another node is the idea that boys will be boys, in other words, sometimes the behavior of males will be offense and degrading but they don’t really mean anything by it so don’t you have anything else to whine about?

How will such systemic attitudes change? First, systemic change is iterative. In other words it doesn’t happen all at once but bit by bit over time. Behavior of person A sparks a small shift in the attitudes and behavior of person B and so on. This doesn’t necessarily mean that change has to take a long time. A “straw that breaks the camel’s back” shift can result in what appears as a seismic change overnight. Events in India in the gang rape sentencing last week may be such a moment.

Second, systemic change requires people who are catalysts or seed agents. These people drive iterative change because they are awake and possess the vision of where we need to move as a society. Seeders actively disseminate their vision in word and deed. This is why efforts like Hollaback are so powerful.

Thirdly, how do people become seeders? The power to develop the vision to change society starts with deep healing and personal evolution on an individual basis. And then, as saying goes, you can Be the Change.

Deep Change and the Culture of Rape

Western society has made great progress in the last century in cleansing overt sexism and misogyny from our culture. But there is surface change and there is deep change.  Surface change is only a beginning.

A case in point is the furor this past week over freshman activities at many universities.  Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia was the center of a firestorm of publicity after a video was posted online showing students repeating the chant that included: “Saint Mary’s boys, we like them young,” and “Y is for your sister … U is for underage … N is for no consent.” This chant has apparently been around for some time and has been widely circulated at a number of institutions.  In the ensuing uproar, many universities are reviewing their policies about freshman activities.

While universities take steps to determine responsibility, and to screen and train those responsible for freshmen activities, the more important questions are: where do the attitudes, beliefs and values of young men and women that trivialize and condone rape originate?  And why do they persist?  After all, these students are the people who will form the backbone of our society, becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers, and teachers.  It is deeply disturbing that significant numbers of them, when fueled by alcohol and adrenaline, seem to revert to attitudes right out of the dark ages.

I have spent most of my adult life exploring gender, power, change, feminism and women’s spirituality. It has become clear to me that we must go to the very core of our personal and societal deep structure to fully engage and heal the gendered tear in our collective human reality. This tear is thousands of years old, dating back to the time when Goddess based cultures and mythologies were conquered and destroyed. When women’s stature, power and innate beauty and qualities were systematically repressed and degraded. Sexual harassment and rape have always been the tools of a misogynist world order, to keep powerful, uppity women in their place. And to separate women, and men, from the life enhancing and evolutionary powers held within our sexuality, creativity and bodies. The roots of a freshman, rape condoning chant are that old, and that endemic to our culture.

But we are waking up, individually and collectively, women and men alike, and saying ‘no more’.  It is no longer acceptable to propagate sexist and misogynist beliefs.  Changing policies and sensitivity training are a start, yet these interventions only skate the surface of the real problem, and cannot, in themselves, end sexual discrimination and abuse of women.  This healing work must be done at the level of the individual soul, where we are split off from our inner feminine nature, bodies, and relationship to the feminine face of the Divine. We need to enter the very roots of our being, and rediscover our true connections to our bodies, sexuality, intuition, and the many profound aspects of our repressed and negated feminine souls.

In this work it is essential to realize that men and women are both wounded in a misogynist, sexist culture. We humans hobble as a crippled beast on the one leg of a truncated version of the masculine, while our feminine leg hangs limp and atrophied from its repressed and degraded stature.  In our true natures, we are big, beautiful and infinitely rich beings, woven of a matrix of the sacred masculine and sacred feminine. In true love for each other, we are meant to make love and beauty, from the differences within our nature, and the full expression of our bodies and spirits.  Sexual discrimination and rape have no holding ground within an ethos of cherishing and respecting the whole, holy expression of our deepest human nature. To make the change, we need to be the change.