All posts tagged abundance

Ahhh, Grasshopper!

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 2.58.09 PMIn previous columns, we have explored the dynamic symbolism and influence found in the natural world, and particularly those represented by the animal spirits. They often fly, jump, hop, crawl, swim, saunter and leap into our lives at the most pivotal time, generally when we have a big decision to make, and are grappling with two paths on that fork in the road we call life.

I found myself in just such a position last month, as I had two big decisions to make and each involved a considerable amount of time and money, two precious commodities in short supply in my world. I was casually told by the property manager of my apartment building that rent for my lease, ending in December, was going to go way up. Similar units in the building were going up more than $700.00 per month. No rent control here! I decided to start looking for another place that would be in line with my budget, but not without some serious soul searching as to why I seemed to move so often…always with good reason, but move nonetheless!

The second big decision centered around making a commitment to sign up for a nine-week yoga teacher training that was to meet on the weekends, which were actually the only days I had to really decompress from the intensity of the work week, and usually I could only manage to clear part of one weekend day anyway. I have taken many rounds of yoga teacher trainings with multiple instructors, as I felt it would give me a diverse and well-rounded exposure to study with more than one teacher. I also discovered that the teacher trainings were like mini yoga retreats. They became “my time” on the calendar, meaning a time I could devote to myself, the yoga practice, to meditation, to the stillness we all so crave, living in the constant energy of Los Angeles’ urban setting.

I found a wonderful new residence in the form of a fully renovated triplex close to the Marquez area of the Pacific Palisades. I could actually walk to the Self-Realization Fellowship on Sunset, one of my favorite sanctuaries! I toyed with a Downtown LA move, but the energy of the Fellowship seemed to be calling me strongly, so I opted to move into the triplex. And I asked for a sign about the yoga teacher training.

My sign came a few days later as I was walking up the freshly painted white stairs of the unit I had rented. I couldn’t help but notice the bright green, very long grasshopper waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. I was there to meet the wireless Internet installer and upon further study, he told me that I had to return to my old apartment for a piece of equipment. As I jumped into my car, I noticed that my grasshopper friend had planted himself firmly on my windshield. I backed my car out of the long hilly driveway and turned left onto Sunset Blvd., heading toward Barrington Avenue in Bentwood. With speed and wind to 45 mph, I thought for sure the grasshopper would fly off the windshield. I made it over to my old apartment, retrieved the router, and then rushed to get back into the car to make my way to the new place. Much to my surprise, I noticed that the hitchhiking grasshopper had stayed on the windshield, returning all the way back to the new apartment. Now all this felt very profound to me. Was I indeed receiving a relevant sign urging me to “take a leap of faith”? Here is what author Ina Wolcott wrote about the great grasshopper totem animal:
“Grasshoppers/Locusts medicine includes jumping across space and time, astral travel, new leaps forward/leaps of faith/jumping without knowing where you will land, leaping over obstacles, ability to change careers quickly.

There are 10,000 or so species of grasshopper, they are cold blooded as all insects are and are more mobile when it is warmer. Each species has their own unique song. However, only the males are able to sing with a few exceptions – the males sing to compete for female attention. The power of sound and song is part of grasshopper’s medicine. It is an ancient method to use song to alter ones consciousness and communicate with animals and spirits. There are some Native American songs that date back 20,000 years. If grasshopper has leapt into your life, maybe you need to recognize where you come from, to go back to your roots and to honor your ancestors.

Grasshopper is the Chinese symbol of good luck and abundance. Anyone with this power animal has been given the ability to take chances – to act on a whim and jump right in. For them things may not progress step by step as they do for other people progress – but rather extremely fast. When taking that leap simply trust your own instincts on when to make the leaps. Listening to your inner voice and responding to it will lead you to positive outcomes. Don’t be afraid to make that leap, remembering all the while that Grasshopper’s only ever jump forwards and never backwards.Needless to say, grasshopper quickly became my new favorite animal totem!

Kwai Chang Caine, the Shaolin monk mentored by Master Po and played by David Carradine in the film, sheds light on where the term, Ahhh, Grasshopper came from: “One of Caine’s first instructors was the blind master named Po (Keyed Luke). Po considered Caine his favorite pupil and behaved more like an elderly grandfather. Caine was given the nickname “Grasshopper” by Master Po; the reference was from an exchange where the still ignorant young Caine asked the old blind master how he could function without seeing. Po asked Caine to close his eyes and describe what he could hear. Caine explained that he could hear the water flowing in a nearby fountain and birds in a nearby cage. Po then asked if Caine could hear his own heartbeat or the grasshopper at his feet (Caine hadn’t noticed the insect until that moment). Incredulous, Caine asked Po, “Old man – how is it that you hear these things?” Po’s reply was, “Young man, how is it that you do not?” From that point on, Po affectionately called Caine “Grasshopper”.

The move is behind me, and today I wrapped one third of the yoga teacher training, all because of a green grasshopper crossing my path in a very profound and prolonged way.Keep your heads up and perhaps the animal kingdom will soon be talking with you too! The question to ask yourself is not how long they have been “talking” to you, but indeed, how long have you been listening!

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August: Five Silver Pockets Full!

Regardless of the hype and conflicting reports on the Internet about this August 2015 comprising an alignment of 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays, once in 823 years, (Chinese silver-pockets-full legend) the facts do remain that indeed this is the line up for the month. Perhaps the real gift in all the rhetoric is that this special aligning of 5’s is getting us to think about our resources, whether they be our personal monetary situation, our planetary resources, or abundance, in all its forms. It’s an opportunity to take stock in all things that feature our abundance and welfare.

Perhaps you have an unusually large bank account right now, but are feeling deprived in the relationship area of your life, or your health has taken a toll. Accumulating all that “wealth”, and spiritually you feel a void. August, the mid-way mark to the year is the perfect time to pause and reflect on the year’s goals and make some minor or even major tweaks to your life. Time to re-set the course and steer your ship of life in the direction that affords you balance and happiness.

Personally, I find even the smallest daily changes to be the most powerful. Others prefer to play larger and overhaul in a big way! Ultimately the changes you make and how they are initiated is up to you. The question we often find ourselves asking is this: what is the most important change we can make if we only had ONE to select?

This is where stillness and meditation come in. As the great Master Teacher, the Buddha suggested, all the answers we seek are indeed within us. Indeed.

Turn off the iPhone ringer, lock the front door, unhook the land line, if you still have one, dim the lights, light a candle, burn some sage or palo-santo (refer to previous articles for more on this practice), light your favorite incense, sit comfortably on your favorite couch, chair or meditation cushion. Remember you do not get more “spiritual points” for sitting cross-legged on the floor in agony. Are you meditating to sit (and to “look cool”?) or sitting to meditate? (to find answers). The latter, of course! Many of us lose sight of this fact and think nothing is happening if we are not sitting a certain way, wearing the latest yoga outfit or holding our thumb and index finger together. Meditation is as unique to each individual as a snowflake that falls from the sky…no two are alike. It’s your practice.

In fact, feel free to skip all the foreplay mentioned at the beginning if you prefer to meditate with noise and bright lights, or dislike incense, etc. Find what works for you. It’s not the method; it’s the intention and repetition that will garner results over time.

Once you settle in to a comfortable position, eyes closed, begin to simply watch your breath, listen to the rise and fall as it goes in through the nostrils and out again the same path. Allow the inevitable noises, smells and other distractions to be acknowledged, and then simply return to the breath, again and again for as long as you are able to stay and just be. That may be a few minutes, twenty, thirty or all day.

Now comes the tricky part. The part of all this that gives you the information you are seeking – that message you are looking for. For some it will come in the form of actually “hearing something verbally”, as in a conversation with a friend. For others, it may be a “gut feeling” or sensation, like goose bumps on your arms, legs or all over. I t may be an actual vision or picture in your minds eye, or it might be all three, or a combination of two. If you happen to have a journal nearby, which I highly recommend, take a few minutes post meditation to jot down your first thoughts, sensations or visions. Herein lies the pearl, the answer, the juicy part of all this inner work you just did. You might be surprised at how simple the suggestion is! Whatever is revealed, it is magical because it comes from the source of your own inner wisdom, your own personal compass.

As an example, I have been slowly working on ramping up income and clients for my new business, all while choosing to stay in balance with personal health, and in a way that also allows me to honor my own personal spiritual practices, like yoga, meditation and chanting. As a Feng Shui practitioner, I also know how important our personal space can be in reflecting balance to us and how important our surroundings are in attracting that which we choose to bring into our daily experience. Perhaps as a “nod” to the validity, however anecdotal or superstitious August’s “silver-pockets-full” declaration of abundance is, I was guided to drive to Downtown LA ‘s Chinatown district and walk the streets chatting with the local shop merchants until I found the tallest, healthiest money tree to replace one I had gifted to a good friend. I placed it in a regal position in the Southeast corner of my living room, blessed its abundant magnifying properties and, almost immediately, calls for new projects and proposals came flooding in. Word came from a company that owed me money that it would be deposited on Monday, and a check came in the mail. Perhaps you would say that these things would have happened anyway, without the “money tree” and my Chinatown sojourn? My reply to that is that now its time to go and water that money tree!

May your August be one of abundance, peace, joy and time for the personal practices that garner inner balance for you! Namaste!

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